One of our earliest large clients had a CEO that was tearing her hair out. Over a coffee, she explained that reports came across her desk, each one having sourced data that was different. No consistency existed, month after month and every time she asked where the problem came from, no one could provide an answer. Meeting after meeting amongst her staff to get answers was grinding the organisation into the ground and things weren’t getting better.
When this type of situation occurs, you need to go back to basics and that consists of getting a group of the right people in a room to document the process across the business all the way from customer enquiry to invoicing. In larger organisations this may involve several departments and staff. It is crucial to engage as many of the staff in the workshops as possible with a strong facilitator that is experienced in ensuring every member is heard. This step must be conducted before any attempt to fix the issues can occur. It is like trying to build the walls of a house with strong foundation.
If you try and go straight to designing the future process (particularly if it is only in 1 part of the business) you will end up creating a slightly better version of what already exists and at most, the band aid is a short-term measure. Take the time to look at the business from a helicopter perspective.
Ensure that the following points are taken into consideration. The team must be cross functional to those that represent all levels of the process, for example, staff that:
- Manage the internal tasks or system (administration)
- Touch the customer (customer service or sales)
- Create the marketing campaigns (marketing)
- Make the product (manufacturing)
- Get the product out the door (logistics/supply chain)
- Enable the systems (IT)
- Try and limit the number of participants to 8 as any more than this is hard to manage from a personality perspective and remove the C suite representatives, treat C suite as the important stakeholders they are but if part of the workshop, the risk is that staff will feel uncomfortable in airing the problems as they see them
- Keep the workshops to a maximum of 5 hours and don’t allow laptops in the workshop
- Ensure each team member’s objectives are captured
- Document the process step by step and measure each step from a time and cost perspective
- Ensure the touchpoints with the customer are captured
- Capture the documents and key performance measures that exist within the current process
- Note the roles that are responsible for each process step
- Capture the opportunities for future process change based on the frustrations with the current process
Only when the above has been captured across the product/service chain with feedback given to all stakeholders (others in the business that didn’t attend the workshops, senior managers, project sponsors, C suite, external customers (if relevant)) should the organisation attempt to redesign the current process to meet the needs of the business tomorrow.
Interested in chatting further? Don’t forget, the coffee is on us!