Transformation implies big changes but does it really deliver?

The word transformation implies big changes. To achieve them businesses invest considerable time, effort and money. You are justified in expecting a sizeable return for all that effort.

However most businesses finish a transformation program having only achieved minor performance improvements or nothing at all.

Aims v Outcomes

It’s a sad fact that the word transformation often symbolises the amount of pain and effort a business goes through. It is rarely about the benefits intended. 

Businesses often plan to carry on working in the same way as before whilst transformation focus tends to be technology driven. This doesn’t work because new technology might make things faster but if you’re NOT doing the right thing in the first place, you end up doing the wrong things faster.

Your focus is on changing the tools the business is using, not enough on testing their original processes and changing the fundamental ways of working. 

What does this mean to you?

If your business is pinning hopes of survival on the outcomes of your major transformation project.. If they plan on carrying on doing what they’ve always done…If they just want  faster tools… They’ll just go out of business even faster.

What it means is that, once the dust has settled, all your team can hope for are marginal gains. Some of the steps in your processes are now automated, or you’ve pushed some tasks out to other employees. Simply you’ve moved the effort to another part of the business rather than truly transforming anything.

The original vision for the program got lost and instead of a 25% cost saving or a 37% revenue increase, it became focused on “we need to get the system implemented and working”.  

It’s all too easy to focus on the tangible aspects of the technology you are implementing and ignore the need for less tangible changes on how the business gets stuff done.

Those opportunities for genuine transformation haven’t gone away. You just didn’t go far enough with the change process.

How do you prevent this?

Time for discovery

Allocating ample time at the start of the project to undertake a thorough discovery exercise is vital. In order to understand the potential barriers, there must be a deep understanding of the current situation. This stage is not just about gathering detail about your current state and processes. It’s about engaging with people early, understanding their role, listening to their individual hopes and fears and learning what they know about ways to make your business better.

Raci Role Description

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Understand your ways of working and identify what’s holding you back.

Crucially, you need to understand what’s preventing it from being better and is holding you back. It might be the technology you use but more often it will be because things are done the way they’ve always been done with little consideration to how they could be done differently.

Work with the vendors to design your future

Armed with the knowledge of what slows things down you can start to design your future state processes to tackle these issues. If possible, do this with the vendor(s) of the platform being implemented. Alternatively, make sure your implementation partner has expertise in the technology and will follow these critical steps.

This is the point where you take what you think will make things better and marry it up with the capabilities of the new system. Without this you’ll simply be automating what you have always done.

Support your team in the new ways of working

When your new system is launched it should be in tandem with your new ways of working. Train your team on the ways of working and then on how the system supports them. Include the ‘why’ in the training so that your team have answers to the questions: 

Why are we doing it this way?

What are the outcomes I am expected to produce? 

Your training should show clearly how the new ways of working and technology achieve these outcomes.

Process cost Dashboard

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Conclusion

Transformation means just that. Transforming the way you and your business works. If you aren’t investing in the initial discovery and investigations, if you don’t know your own business processes; how can you expect to make successful changes? All too often the investment is in the final technology solution but if you don’t invest in your people and their processes you’ll never achieve it. Its all too easy to blame the term Transformation but change starts with you and your approach. 

The Skore Digital Discovery platform enables you to gather all the information you need during the discovery phase. Simply and quickly create a model of processes, people, systems and data in a single place that can be accessed and understood by everyone.

Skore’s simple approach means anyone can understand how the business works and how the new systems support it. It engages people in live workshops and interviews and allows your company to find the solutions that work for them.  

Why not request a free trial to see how you could deliver transformation right first time with Skore

Digital Transformation in Construction – Keep it Simple

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is on the mind of every leadership team across all industries, not just construction. But what is digital transformation? A search online will return mountains of articles, research, opinion pieces and many more all describing wildly different descriptions.

You’ll hear about the customer journey, digital first interactions, reducing friction etc. A lot of what you read about will be from the retail industry or finance, disruptive business models and so on.

From a construction perspective how do you make sense of this all?

Digital transformation in construction

Today digital transformation is relative and depend on your industry as a whole and where it sits in relation to digital. It is about where you are today, your starting point, where you are trying to get to and how you can use digital technology to get there. In essence it’s about improving productivity, profitability, experience, automation and, perhaps most importantly, innovation.

In that sense it’s no different from any sort of industrial improvement technique that has come before. Except now the pace of change in digital technologies is so high that you need a new capability in your business that can keep on top of it and continuously implement the latest innovations.

Back to basics

For construction it will come as little surprise to most in the industry that things still tend to happen largely on spreadsheets. Even basic task automation found in other industries will be completed on spreadsheets and shared via email in construction. Files are still stored on shared drives and approvals are made with wet signatures.

Given this starting point I’d urge anyone considering digital transformation in the construction industry to not get carried away and take advantage of the enormous opportunities for improvement right in front of them.

Tools for creating simple workflows, with approvals, controlled document storage and mobile friendly are readily available and easy to use. More traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools are easier to use and easier to configure than ever before. Most tools nowadays include some sort of Application Programming Interface (API) that allows it to connect to a variety of other tools so you can reduce data entry and emails.

However, given how easy to use and accessible these tools are it’s very easy to implement the wrong thing in the wrong way. And that’s where this new capability comes in.
Digital Discovery for digital transformation

Creating, or configuring, automated workflows may seem easy, but to do so in a scalable and future proof way requires a bit more skill. It’s important to consider the wider business to understand how this new workflow fits in. What are the inputs required, what outputs are expected, who will do it, what is the escalation path when something goes wrong, what is the data model required, who else needs to know?

Using a digital discovery tool such as Skore will make this much easier. It will allow you to rapidly build a model that describes how your business works, where the gaps are and answer the questions above. You can use this model to build and test your new automated workflows before you roll them out to your team.

Infact digital discovery is best started before you’ve even selected a technology for your transformation. The model produced will form the requirements for that system and can be used in the vendor selection process. Simply take the model to the different vendors and ask them to show you how they would deliver it.

Successful digital transformation

In construction, successful digital transformation is all about being aware of your starting point. Don’t try to over think things, or build something that no one would recognise. Keep it simple, identify the things that can be easily automated today that will have the largest impact on the business.

There is a lot you can do right now to reduce risk and increase productivity, simply by getting rid of those spreadsheets.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you on your digital transformation journey please get in touch.

Asking WHY can save your business a fortune!

As a consultant, one of the most powerful questions in my ‘toolbox’ is “why”?

Why do you do that? What’s the value?

It forces you to think beyond the superficial and dig into the real meaning of a piece of work. To understand what it ultimately adds to your business or customer.

It’s easy for me, to turn up at a new client’s premises and ask those questions. But why don’t businesses ask it enough of themselves?

What do you do to ensure you constantly challenge yourself and every person in your organisation, to consider the value in all that they do?

Asking ‘WHY’ is a great example of how the Skore approach consistently helps businesses using it, stay at the top of their game. It challenges team members at all levels within a business, to think about what they do and why. To always challenge the status quo and ask;

  • What value is this process adding to the customer?
  • How does each step contribute to that value?

When I am training clients teams on using the Skore approach, I often find the following anecdote highlights the importance of asking WHY.

Several years ago, I was working with a large construction and services company helping them define a standard process for a back-office function. A mundane but necessary step in their wider improvement programme.

In one session we started by capturing all the key steps in the process. These were displayed, in the order that they happened, on the screen for everyone to see. The room was full of heads nodding in agreement. A great start!

I then started to walk the team through each step, asking “why does this step happen?” or “what value does this step bring?”. As we moved through the steps it generated some great discussion and opened up a whole bunch of improvement ideas for the future. Ideas I duly captured and shared with the client team later.

Eventually we arrived at this innocuous step “produce weekly reports”. Again, I asked the question, “why do we do this?”. The team turned to look at the person who had described the step. “So that the weekly reports are produced?” was the response.

Hearing the past tense used to describe why something is done often rings alarm bells to me as it usually suggests that there’s little, or worse, no value in the activity. It’s hard to articulate, and isn’t always the case, but is a pretty good indicator that we need to try a little harder to uncover the value. I tried again, this time “OK, what do you do with the report once you’ve produced it?”

“Print it out and file it in the cabinet at the end of the office” came the reply. At this point the colleagues all looked at each other. My next question, “does anyone use that report?” was met with a sea of blank faces.

After investigation it transpired that this person was spending three hours every week producing these reports. The reports were filed away and never looked at. What’s more, we found no compliance reason for them to exist.

It turns out that when the colleague had joined the organisation 18 months before, their predecessor had included this activity as part of their job handover.

In that time over 210 hours had been wasted and if we hadn’t caught it, many more would have followed!

Through the application of the Skore approach, the identification of these types, and levels, of waste are commonplace.

Traditional methods of process improvement require a high level of discipline to apply it correctly, or alternatively, for a consultant to come in and do it. The more commonly used approaches to capturing and visualising ways of working don’t generally ask “why” at each step and therefore improvement opportunities, such as those described above, are easily missed.

It is for this reason that we built the “why” questions directly into the Skore platform.

When Skore is used to define and describe work processes it routinely asks;

  • What happens?
  • Who does it? and
  • Why?

If the questions are not answered, they remain visible until the are completed, acting as a reminder to investigate and understand them fully at some later point during the process.

Want to learn more about Skore? Request a Demo today!

Don’t let hidden costs damage your profits

When a business is embarking on a project, that will fundamentally change the way the organisation works, there are a number of steps to go through in order to properly identify the business aspirations and to understand exactly how change will impact the business. But these projects don’t tend to focus on finding hidden costs.

Typically, when the Skore team are called in to support this type of transformation project, our client will already have a specific goal, such as implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application.

As a client you will have acknowledged that you have recurring problems, often including; the duplication of effort, repeatedly making the same mistakes, or simply not being able to keep on top of things with your existing working practices. But what other hidden costs might be lurking in the business?

Perhaps the system being implemented promises a new feature that will allow you to exploit a new process – for example, a client recently benefited from the introduction of an online chat widget, meaning that customers were able to interact directly with the support staff through the website.

In 2017, we published this article How we saved 80 days of waste during a system implementation. This project saw our client, a tier 1 engineering company, implementing a training administration system to manage the multitude of internal and external training courses they offer.

With well defined goals for the system implementation, Skore was selected for gathering the requirements. During the early project stages of the initial requirements workshops, we quickly identified the aforementioned extra 80 days of hidden cost!

Using that article as the catalyst, we decided to review other projects we’ve been involved in and see what additional benefits we helped our clients achieve.

Another client engaged Skore to support the definition of business processes in preparation for the implementation of a new order processing system. During the definition phase, we once again identified a number of improvement opportunities outside the scope of the core project, including time savings in the processes for ordering, stock management and returns.

The Skore approach also helped the team identify areas where data duplication was taking place. By addressing these instances, further time efficiencies were achieved through the reduction of duplicated effort and rework.

In our third example, the project looked at the clients’ product development process. A key factor in using the Skore approach is the detailed understanding of the interactions between all interfacing processes, people and technology. It was within these interfaces our client identified additional pain points that were adversely impacting their customer experience. The additional value added by Skore was being able to assist with resolving these problems outside of the core project.

This is just a small sample of our projects. However, our ongoing review process found one common theme – that additional benefits are consistently being identified outside of the defined scope of our projects.

What is most surprising, is that in virtually all cases, these unexpected benefits represent a significant cost saving to the client despite never having previously been identified. In fact, the teams were often not even aware they had a problem until the Skore approach was applied.

This is why the use of Skore tends to grow within organisations. After its initial introduction as a tool to support the delivery of a specific project, its value in identifying additional, or unexpected, benefits soon becomes clear. Skore can easily be applied to other parts of the business in order to optimise working practices, reduce costs, identify new opportunities and, in turn, increase profits.

To find out more about how Skore is helping organisations transform their performance and customer satisfaction, take a look at our case studies.

Or, to discuss how Skore could be applied to your own business, leave your details for one of our transformation specialists to arrange a call.

10 Steps to the Perfect Process Map

This blog article was updated on 7th August 2019

Skore’s success as a software platform undoubtedly demonstrates it’s importance as part of the process capture solution. However our own experiences within the Skore team have also enabled us to master the ability to map out and analyse processes effectively.  We’d like to share with you our best way to create a process map that will engage and inform your organisation. 

A simple structure and approach is the most effective. It will get you started, guide you, enable you to learn and build experience. That’s why Skore is based on a simple, yet powerfully flexible, framework for describing and aligning processes, people, systems and data.

Indeed Skore has the framework built in to it and it makes it quick and easy to apply. However underneath there is still a basic approach that underpins the application of the framework. After the numerous training and discovery sessions Skore have been involved in we’ve put together the following 10 simple steps to creating the perfect process map.

So if you want to create good quality and insightful process maps for your organisation in 10 simple steps read our recommendations:.

10 STEPS TO THE PERFECT PROCESS MAP

1. SCOPE

Ask yourself – what is the scope for this process? Make sure you capture the title, initial input and final output

2. ACTIVITIES

What is the work to be done? You only need to record the verb and noun for each activities, don’t worry about sequence at this stage or trying to write full sentences. Just get them all down.

3. OUTPUTS

For each activity, add the output – our tip is to try to avoid just putting the past tense of the activity, think about the now. 

4. FLOW

Only once all the activities have an output should you hook them up. What does this output trigger next? This checks you’ve got the right activities at the right stage of the process. You may be surprised at this stage how many people may disagree with you.

5. WHO

A process is never complete until the ‘Who does it?’ is filled in for EVERY activity. For higher levels, who is responsible? For lower levels, who does it? Again this is a very enlightening exercise for the whole team. 

6. ENRICH

Add in things like systems, data, document links, requirements, etc… depending on the reason you’re process mapping. Make sure these are captured in the software to show reach and priorities.

7. TIDY

Remember this process is for all and you want it to be visually pleasing. Align the tops, space apart… a neat process is a happy process, and it’s pretty satisfying too. 

8. SHARE

Don’t keep the process to yourself, make sure the access rights are set up correctly and share the link to a wider audience. Switch on Comments if you want feedback directly. Allow your process map to become a community builder within your organisation. 

9. REFINE

Take the feedback and improve the process, update it. Look at the insights generated and use that information to clarify and hone your map. 

10. PUBLISH

Decide who should approve the process (usually the Process Owner!) and Publish. Remember, this is just a line in the sand, it will change and need to be re-published. You can always roll back to an earlier version if needs be so don’t be reluctant. A process map is only a useful tool if seen and shared by those who need to. 

The Skore Digital Discovery Platform is a process mapping, improvement and insights platform. Live workshop functionality, instant updating and shareable, it enables you to align your people, processes and tools. Find out more here

The Magic of Hierarchy

The importance of hierarchy

Probably my favourite tool in the arsenal of analyst techniques has to be decomposition. Whether it’s functional or process decomposition there is nothing like it for arranging problems into the big picture. Then breaking that picture down into its component parts so that you can start to make sense of it.

And yet hierarchy, in recent years, has got a pretty bad reputation. As Stanford professor Bob Sutton wrote this weekend in this LinkedIn article. He was brought up to believe that hierarchy was bad and led to inefficiency, yet research for his new book showed that hierarchy is unavoidable.

Hierarchy is nature’s gift to us in helping us understand the World around us. Citing research by his colleagues Deb Gruenfeld and Lara Tiedens he describes how hierarchy is found in every single group of animals found in nature. To quote Gruenfeld and Tiedens directly:

“When scholars attempt to find an organization that is not characterized by hierarchy, they cannot.”

Hierarchy structures the relationships between people and things into parent, child and peer relationships. This makes it easier for us to remember those relationships, it provides an organising principle that is standardised across everything. We simply have to know how hierarchy works in order to understand something that is new to us.

This is what makes decomposition so powerful. It comes naturally to us human beings so is not really something that needs much in the way of education. When we apply it, it’s often to an area that seems chaotic and complex. By decomposing we overlay a hierarchy that allows us to understand what was previously incomprehensible. It allows us to break problems down into component parts in order to tackle them effectively and even start to predict what will happen when we make changes.

It doesn’t just aid understanding, it also helps us to remember. Instead of having to remember every single discreet component of an organisation you simply need to remember a small subset. You can then use this along with the hierarchical organising principle and you will be able to fairly accurately calculate the missing pieces.

Skore and decomposition

This is what makes decomposition one of the first things I do when introduced to a new problem and this is why we made decomposition one of the central parts of Skore. It surprises me how few products there are out there that help you do this easily, one of our favourites is Workflowy.

Right from the beginning we wanted to give people the ability to decompose as thought it was second nature. With Skore you simply capture a few high level actions that describe the ‘big picture’ then use the details button on each What Box to decompose to the next level creating a hierarchy as you go. This means it is really important that you complete the Why Box for each step. The Why Box is used to determine the outcome of each step, what’s expected once the action is complete. By doing this consistently you are setting your scope for the next level of detail and making it easier to focus on that detail.

Detail button on a What Box in Skore

When looking at any new problem Skore is one of the first tools I reach for, sketch out the big picture and then explore the details of any relevant parts.

3 things to remember

Hierarchy is all around us – it is an organising principle built into nature and helps us understand otherwise complex situations.

Use decomposition to organise and understand problems – start at the ‘big picture’ and break it down into component parts in order to understand what it is and what to do next.

Use the Details button in Skore to decompose a step – each What Box has a details button, clicking this will give you a clean canvas with the context of the parent step including the descriptions of the What and Why boxes. You can break individual steps into detail views as often as you need until you reach the right level of detail.

This is an extended version of an article from Human Automation.

Whiteboard versus software

This is a question that comes up from time to time when introducing Skore to new teams, “is it better to run workshops using whiteboards or software tools?”  I’d argue that it’s not a question of one versus the other, they each have their strengths, the question should really be “when should I use a whiteboard and when should I rely on technology?”

What is a workshop?

A workshop is a very powerful collaboration and innovation tool. It normally involves a group of stakeholders with different areas of experience and expertise. It takes place in an open space where  the team have room to move around and interact. It is typically facilitated by someone that helps guide the team toward reaching a desired outcome.

Workshops are used to understand problems, identify solutions and allow the key stakeholders to provide their input. The purpose of the whiteboard, or a software tool, is to help visualise the ideas under discussion and to explore them in more detail.

So how do I know what to use?

I’ve found that it depends on the stage the team is at in terms of their understanding of the issues. In the early stages of a project there’s a lot to figure out and everyone has a different point of view. This is the blank page phase where you have to get thoughts aligned. Using a whiteboard here is perfect. Thoughts are very unstructured and the freeform nature of a whiteboard allows the team to get all these thoughts visible. Once you have achieved this you will start to see relationships between the ideas and it’s this point where things start to become more concrete. (see Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin for guidance on how to visualise ideas)

This phase is where I would start to look at using a software tool. You’re starting to dig into the details, and the devil is often in the detail. At this stage the expertise of the participants really comes to the fore and conversations can be very quick and passionate. It’s important to keep these energy levels and concentration high to be most effective. The problem with manual driven workshops is that ideas come thick and fast, they get clarified and changed very quickly. It’s difficult to keep up with the flow and stopping and waiting for the facilitator to update a sticky note can sometimes be enough to distract the participants.

By the same token the software tool itself needs to be visual and quick, this is not always the case. Whether wireframing, or producing flows, a quick and easy tool is required to get the best out of the workshop. And if you can get the content directly into the tool then there’s no need to follow up later putting the content into the tool based on some poor photo you took with your tablet.

Having said all that, when I’m using a tool projected on to the wall I always have a whiteboard or flipchart available to capture additional ideas.

The bottom line is that workshops are incredibly powerful ways to collaborate and engage with different stakeholders but it’s important to use the right tool at the right time so that you can get the most value from the experience. As a rule of thumb I’d start with the whiteboard in a very early stage, as soon as ideas start to firm up and the nature of the challenge is understood then it’s probably time to switch to a laptop and projector.

We’ve designed Skore with this very much in mind. We’ve used many tools over the years, some are better than others in a live workshop environment, but they mostly rely on experienced users to get the most out of them. We wanted to create something that anyone could pickup and use to capture flows and user journeys with very little practice. 

Skore versus MS Visio, Lucidchart and Gliffy

For the purposes of this article we will consider Lucidchart, MS Visio and Gliffy to be general purpose diagramming tools. Given its ubiquity we will refer mainly to MS Visio for the examples.

How is Skore different to Visio?

This is the most common question we come across when introducing Skore to new audiences, especially analysts and consultant. We use Visio to create flowcharts and we create flowcharts in Skore so how are they really that different?

It would be easy, but rather boring, to try and explain the difference feature by feature.

Instead I would describe Skore as a strategic tool that helps organisations better understand themselves and therefore better able to improve and change. Whereas Visio is very much a tactical general purpose diagramming tool. I can design a business process flowchart in Visio, and I can design my new kitchen.

Process – a strategic view

For decades business leaders have considered their organisation’s processes as strategic assets. Processes flow through organisations, transforming inputs from suppliers into value for customers. They are the reason businesses function. And yet, after all this time, executives continue to struggle with problems of efficiency, standardisation, quality, risk and effectiveness.

When taking a process view of an organisation it’s easy to see where the problems are. Bottlenecks and breakdowns happen most often where the process moves from one team to another, from one department from another, or from one person to another.

Inefficiencies and errors thrive where different people deliver the same piece of work in different ways. Or design new work every time they do the same thing.

As an organisational improvement tool process flowcharts are used to show us, and help us fix, these problems.

So why do these problems keep coming back? Why do so many leaders still consider process and process efficiencies as a strategic priority? Why have we not solved this once and for all

Process – a tactical view

At a recent client the chief executive complained that he couldn’t understand why people still kept making the same mistakes despite his efforts to make the whole organisation more process focused. This reflects the fact that in most organisations ‘business’ processes are confused with flowcharts.

Flowcharts are fantastic tools for visualising flows of activities or data. They say a picture paints a thousand words and a flowchart allows you to layout complex sequences of activities that may be sequential or parallel or both. Something a text document does very poorly.

So can you draw a ‘business’ process using a flowchart? Absolutely, however it’s not so easy to create true business processes, at least not as easy as it is to draw any old boxes and lines. Something many people confuse with business processes.

In practice flowcharts are created for many reasons, as very low level task instructions, decision trees, or for implementing specific parts of a system. When created in Visio they are flat 2 dimensional diagrams with the only guidelines and rules based on the experience of the user.

Or they are created on whiteboards, they are large, complex and with varying levels of detail all displayed in one noodle soup of a flowchart.

The problem with thinking of process as a strategic asset

The problem is that processes exist at many levels of an organisation. There are the big strategic chunks of work that describe the core value chain. Or there are the management routines required to ensure work is optimised and continuously improved.

There are the key activities that describe what the organisation, team or department needs to do. And there is the implementation level of work such as tasks or requirements for systems.

These different levels of process are still often drawn in Visio but they require considerable expertise, skill and experience to create and manage them. In fact, in most cases, the same expertise is needed just to explain them and how they fit together.

This expertise takes years to develop and individuals that fit this bill are rare and sought after. They are most likely to be interim roles or expensive consultants. Organisations bring them in for specific projects and programmes.

This type of skill rarely gets embedded into an organisation and once the consultants leave their ability to update and maintain a true process view of the organisation goes with them. The organisation gradually reverts back to type.

A further problem, and one that any good process consultant will be perfectly aware of, is that processes do no exist in isolation. A process doesn’t work without people to do it, nor does it work without the inputs and resources that are to be transformed. Again, without the systems, rules, machines and equipment that make it work, a process is nothing but an idea.

To really understand an organisation’s strategic processes it is essential to have a good understanding of how all these interlocking pieces form the complete picture. Our experienced consultants have created a myriad of tools to assist them but it generally boils down to flowcharts and spreadsheets.

Spreadsheet upon spreadsheet of data all related to specific parts of our process. Creating this monster requires a PhD in astrophysics and an army of analysts to create and keep in synch. No one understands how it hangs together expect the original artist that created it. And although they can answer any question using this resource, it appears as a clouded crystal ball to virtually everyone else.

How Skore solves this issue

What we’ve just described is a status quo that has existed for many years. Visio, Lucidchart and similar tools have simply created an electronic version of brown paper and string, or it’s more modern equivalent, whiteboards and sticky notes.

It doesn’t bring a fundamental change in thinking. It doesn’t address the issue of getting an organisation to recognise, articulate and love it’s processes in an ongoing and strategic fashion.

Skore is different first in its approach and secondly how that is applied in the tool. Skore is designed to make it easy for more people in an organisation to learn how to capture and describe processes.

And when I use the term ‘process’ I mean multi-level flowcharts that include all the other things an organisation needs to function. Not just the work activities, nor even the people, but all the systems and other information required.

All this information is stored in a single model, not multiple flowcharts and multiple spreadsheets that need to be kept in synch manually, but a dynamic model that includes all the information linked together.

This is also not some technical architectural tool. Skore follows some very simple rules that makes it very easy to understand and use. It’s not for everyone and while everyone can create boxes and lines in Visio, a significantly larger portion of your organisation will be able to develop good quality processes in Skore.

A model in Skore can start at the top of the organisation showing our strategic buckets of work and, clicking a button, you can zoom into any level of detail you wish.

It becomes a true strategic view of an organisation’s processes where the CEO is looking at the same model as everyone else.

Contact us to try Skore today.

How we saved 80 days waste during a system implementation project

Mapping a process is an essential step at the beginning of a system implementation project. It ensures the right requirements are identified and delivered to the users and should drive the right business outcomes.

But what else can you expect to get from this exercise? What are the additional benefits that can be derived from taking the time to map the process early on in the project?

Recently we helped one of our partners identify and remove an additional 80 days of waste in a customer system implementation project. The business case had long been agreed, contracts signed and the project underway. And yet we were still able to identify further benefits for the end customer that may not have been recognised otherwise.

We work with system implementation partners in this way for two main reasons. For a successful system implementation you first need to provide a solution that adds value to the customer. A solution that really makes a difference to their business, otherwise their return on the investment is nil. Secondly, you need to help the customer adopt the new solution, that means they need to move from their old ways of working (and often old habits) to new ways of working with the new solution.

Building the right solution

In the case above the system being implemented was based on a standard process. There was little change required to the core workflow. However, there was a significant amount of configuration required and not all parts of the application would be used. It was important to understand what was required, what wasn’t and why.

We ran a 2 hour process workshop with the core team of users and the business owner. There were 8 people in all and each would have a different level of interaction with the system. For example 3 members of the team would be using the system daily to track and communicate with their customers. In contrast the two managers would use the system mainly for reporting, roughly once a week.

Using the Skore approach we quickly identified the key areas of work. Then we broke those down into more detail, capturing the steps they each performed. At the same time we used attachments against the activities to record documents, templates and other systems they used.

As we mapped out the processes we also made a note of any challenges they faced on a day-to-day basis and additional requirements. In one example they identified a compliance requirement that had to be tracked. This was never part of the original business case but could be easily added to the system and was a significant improvement on their current ways of working.

Ideas, challenges and questions are captured as notes

Finally we made a note of how long each activity took and how often they did it each day. This was very interesting because during the workshop the durations ranged from 5 seconds to an hour per activity. Once these were multiplied up by the number of times each activity happened per day it was a significant amount of time.

system implementation
Duration and direct costs are captured against each activity

With this information, and back at the office, the solution team could then look at how the system laid over the existing business processes. We quickly sketched out a configuration for the compliance requirement and defined which modules needed to be configured and how.

Next we looked at which activities would be automated by the new system. Based on the information gathered in the workshop it was here that we identified an additional 80 days of savings on top of what they had already agreed!

Delivering the right solution in the right way

Of course the real reason we were there in the first place, and supporting our partner, was to do something that all too often gets forgotten about in system implementations.

“How do you actually move the customer from where they are today to the new solution to ensure they adopt it successfully?”

This partner had previously complained about how customers would waste hours of training arguing about how stuff was done. When the system was implemented team members would complain it didn’t fit in with ‘how they did stuff’.

Our solution was to ensure the end customer was clear on their current ways of working BEFORE the implementation. This was achieved through the workshop described to understand the requirements. Everyone sat together and had their chance to dispute the process and amend it accordingly.

At the end of the workshop they all agreed on the process and it was shared with them online, in Skore app. In the days following the workshop they made a number of minor tweaks. Now they had a baseline that they all agreed on.

Moving to the new system was then a case of remapping the process according to the new solution. Then we identified the differences between the two processes and these became the focus of the training. At the beginning of the training the process was used to realign the team and demonstrate how things would change.

Supporting the solution

Once implemented and trained the processes were made available to the team for reference. Questions about how something worked could first be asked of the process before a call was made for support.

When a support call was made the support team would use the same process as the user to identify where the issue occurred and to explain the solution.

Skore app’s simple approach and process framework makes it possible for anyone to read and understand the process. The processes are delivered through an interactive online portal and users can leave feedback and improvement suggestions at any time.

This is how you effectively capture requirements, delight users, align the team and save 80 days of waste in your next project! And all of this was achieved in a single 2 hour workshop!

Contact us to learn more about how Skore app can accelerate your next system implementation.

Affected by WannaCry? It’s time to perform an IT process review!

perform a process review to help prevent future attacksThe WannaCry attack, in the last week, has apparently taken many companies and computer users by surprise. The scale of the attack appears to be unprecedented with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) particularly affected.

That attack, which uses an exploit in the Microsoft Windows platform, claims to encrypt your files before demanding a payment to recover them. Microsoft issued a patch to the latest versions of the Windows operating system in March 2017.

However it appears many users were left vulnerable after systems had not been updated in over a month. Microsoft believe that a majority of home users will be protected as they generally have automatic updates and will have been protected.

So how did many of these organisations get hit by such an attack when there was already a patch available?

What went wrong?

It’s clear that a lot of organisations had either not yet installed the patch, had not considered it important enough, or worse, they simply missed it. Another reason is that they are using outdated and unsupported versions of Windows. While this is perhaps more common that many people realise it doesn’t always cause issues of this nature.

Many IT teams will carry out regular risk assessments of their hardware and infrastructure. Unsupported systems may be perfectly safe in the right environment.

Which ever of these reasons caused the attack to be successful in each organisation it’s probably time for those companies to review their processes to ensure the risk of similar attacks is minimised in future.

Review your IT processes

Using Skore app to map out processes and perform an IT process review will help identify and close gaps in existing processes. The simple approach makes it easy to for everyone in the team to have a say. Threats can come from anywhere and getting a broad view of how things work today will ensure that you cover as many angles as possible.

The Skore approach is based on a framework that helps you identify gaps in your process. This makes it particularly effective in this instance. It follows a set of simple questions which asks what happens, who does it and why. This may sound very simple but really challenges the team to ensure that every step in a process is there for the right reason.

In contrast other process tools do not force these questions to be answered. Invariably when teams find it hard to answer these questions they are skipped over. Unfortunately it is these very difficult to answer questions that highlight the inadequacies in a process. In this case Skore app has you covered.

Why not try Skore app today to review and evaluate your current IT processes.