BPI Exercise - Process Walk Through & Analysis

Business Improvement Projects are great way of unleashing the operational efficiency and increasing the effectiveness of the entire business operations. It helps Organizations prune their processes and eliminate redundancies when reviewed from time to time.

Business operations are dependent upon well defined documentation and detailed as well as efficient processes no doubt. However, the processes are operated upon by the people, making the processes vulnerable over a period of time. One positive factor that is achieved out of process driven operations is that the functions become process dependant and not people dependant. However, this need not be true in all cases and over a long period of time. In many cases, the process efficiency can go down depending upon the lack of right skills and attitude on the part of the manpower as well as lack of training.

Miscommunication or lack of review of the performance and gap in understanding on the part of the human resource with reference to the exact expectations of the given role and task can be the reason for lack of quality and inefficiency of performance on the part of the employees.

Preparing for Process Walk Through

Keeping the above point in view, the PIT (Process Improvement Team) has got to plan a detailed process walk through exercise on the floor covering the selected process. Before the detailed process walk through, it is important to plan for multiple teams consisting of two PIT members with one of the process supervisor or departmental head to be set up. The team should be familiar with the environment, the process as well as have a back ground information on the employees managing the process.

It is important for the team to work on a detailed questionnaire covering all aspects of the process including the process efficiency, effectiveness and other measurements including cycle time, cost as well as checking out the possible factors hindering the performance. At this juncture the experience of the PIT team comes in handy to be able to anticipate, observe and elicit information from the employees on the floor and be able to detect problem areas during discussions.

Get Ready With Home Work

Detailed questionnaire should include not only the review of the process and the documentation, but include interview of the employee concerned. Interviewing the employee should cover several angles including but not limited to the qualification, the skills, the attitude and ability of the individual to carry out the task assigned or in short his suitability or fit with the job role as well as the amount of training that he has been provided with. The training requirement should cover the frequency and type of training including soft skills and the technical skills training as well.

Employee Interview

It is also important to question the employee on his views about the work atmosphere and the support that he perceives from his department, his team and colleagues as well as his superiors. Management style as well as communication can also be important factors inhibiting or supporting employee motivation and performance and hence are important points to be covered in the interview.

Interviewing the employee in detail about his work and his understanding can reveal lot of information that is helpful for the study. In many cases, lack of clarity or understanding or lack of detailing in the documentation can lead to ambiguity of the process on the floor. Sometimes it is also seen that the employee is not aware of how he is performing and what is expected out of him. Lack of customer feedback and lacking of knowledge of the overall process and how the particular task on hand is relevant to the entire process is seen to hamper the process efficiency of the operator.

Having a supervisor or a colleague from the same process as a PIT member is very helpful in understanding the soft issues as well as in bringing to the surface hidden problems and issues that are hampering the productivity and efficiency of the individuals and the process.

The interview during the process walkthrough has got to be conducted in the right and friendly manner to be able to elicit the right participation from the employees on the floor. It is important for the PIT members to be neutral but friendly in their approach and be fair in their assessments.

One of the most critical and important point that has to be kept in mind at this juncture is that ‘It is important to share feedback and action points with the employees after discussion’. The PIT team needs to tabulate the points for action and share it with the employee as well as take it up for discussion with the departmental head and work out an action plan based on the outcome of the discussions. The detailed action plan covering the actions, the timelines and the responsibility for the action needs to be exhibited on the floor too.

In many cases, the problem areas are normally identified by the employees during the discussions itself and the problem resolution too happens from the employee’s end for they know the process best. If the problems and issues are due to lack of time and review, then such issues get resolved automatically during the walk through.

Post Walk Through Home Work

End of the process walkthrough exercise should result in a detailed case study for each process, detailing the findings, the gaps, the problems and the controllable and non-controllable factors impeding the process efficiency and effectiveness. Problems that are controllable should be accompanied with solutions and detailed action plan with timelines. The problems that are non-controllable should be referred to the next level for problem resolution.

The process walkthrough by itself does not solve all the problems. To be effective it needs to be reviewed along with other factors of measurement including process effectiveness, customer feedback, measurements, cycle time as well as cost of operation etc.

It is also important to collect the historical data of the process output and other criteria that has been maintained and the same needs to be analyzed. The problem areas in the process can also be identified through the analysis. Analysis of the performance and other measurement criteria at this stage will help track the process improvements and the performance of the process after the changes and improvements have been affected.

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