Sunday, April 27, 2008

Human BPM/BPI-game and my key lessons

Recently I attended a good training on process modeling and analysis. One of the final parts was a group exercise where we simulated a process. A lot of fun - first we got the specs of a process, e.g. activities, flows, business rules and resources. And each of us was given a role in the process. Based on a computermodel we received "customer orders", and we performed the tasks, delivering the requested product, while the computer was measuring %on-time delivery and leadtime (+ variances + some other KPI's).
Then we had the opportunity to discuss the process, our observations on performance, and as a group suggest and implement improvements. Of course we used various techniques, we just learned in the training, such as elements from value added analysis, bottleneck removal, leveling, and other lean + common sense techniques. Then we performed the process again, with again KPI measurement. And one last round of improvement and simulation.
We did fine in the end - the process was definitely improved. And - both leadtime went down, resourcing went down, cost went down and predictability went up (less lead time variance).

My key lessons:
1. A lot of improvements is FREE
We often have the idea that improvement comes at a cost. Yes - for most improved processes that will probably be true. But the start process we were given was not so unrealistic. Yet, with surprising little improvement changes, we were able to improve on all major performance elements.
Wandering around various organizations, I have often been puzzled by the lack of view on processes and the great, yet unattemped potential for improvement...

2. Change management is hard....
Running the process went fine, but as a group coming to terms with the analysis, improvement ideas and selection/implementation - ough. A lot of discussion, confusing, different angles, lack of leadership.
It learned me the valuable lessons:
-Business Process Improvement (BPI) needs a mix of people from the floor and people with general process improvement skills
- BPI workshops need a strong facilitator
- BPI needs someone that takes decisions - e.g. management that understand the BPI ideas and is able to prioritize and select

In real live I see these things too. So much room for improvement. Coming up with good improvement ideas is often easy. But getting all the people aligned and agreeing- that's the hard part. In terms of evolution, I guess that's our next challenge. We are great survivors. But in the future collaboration will define our real survival. Not sure if we humans are equiped enough for this task...

1 comment:

Mike said...

Hi Roeland,

I googled "business process transformation" and was saddened to see that you'd taken the top spot from me. I enjoy your blog and really liked this post. Your two points are right on target. I used to be surprised at how wasteful most processes are; now I just wade in assuming I'll find lots of room for improvement. I have also learned that the human side of change is the difficult one. Your suggestions are excellent. You and your readers might also enjoy a video I made: What's Going On In There?.