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The Analyze Phase. Examine Current Process Environment and Identify Requirements

 

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Introduction
Business process management starts with analyzing an existing process environment of a commercial organization, determining open issues, and identifying requirements for transforming existing processes into a new, more improved environment. All these activities are managed within the Analyze phase. This phase intends to conduct a process environment analysis which is an evaluation of possible or probable effects of internal forces and conditions to an organization's survival and development strategies.

In order to carry out the Analyze phase, you need to focus your expert team on implementing two high-level processes, such as:

  • Examine the existing process environment – The expert team needs to examine current processes, design comprehensive implementation scenarios, and document the entire process architecture of your business organization.
  • Identify requirements for continuous improvement – The team needs to outline the optimal path of developing a new, more improved process environment and then determine possible conditions for existing processes to fit into the new environment.

Both processes are made up of smaller procedures and tasks to be assigned to your expert team. It’s best to use a task management program to divide the processes into tasks, plan activities of the team, and monitor performance. We suggest using VIP Task Manager software for this purpose. In this article we describe what tasks you can plan for implementing the processes of the Analyze phase and how you can use VIP Task Manager to manage the tasks.

Examine the Existing Process Environment
The first step to carry out the Analyze phase is to create a complete representation of the process environment existing in your organization in order to get the right understanding of present issues. To take this step your team needs to analyze the environment and accomplish the following goals:

  • Activate the decision-making process and move it forward.
  • Forecast future process trends based on historic analysis.
  • Uncover hidden relationships between existing processes.
  • Provide decision makers with access to process data.

The team needs to implement the procedure of examining the current environment while taking into account these goals. The implementation requires your team to understand current activities and their relationships and determine values of relevant metrics. It includes the following four tasks:

  • Define process boundaries
  • Design a process flow chart
  • Determine process capacity
  • Identity process bottlenecks

The first task is performed by defining boundaries (the entry and exit points of inputs and outputs of every process). It means the team needs to identity what is in and out of the organization’s process environment. For example, the selling process starts with prospecting (the entry point) and ends up with customer service and follow-up (the exit point).

The second task is performed while considering results of the previous task. The team needs to design a flow diagram for analyzed processes. For example, such procedures as Prospecting, Initial contact, Presentation, Handling objections, Sales close, and Follow-up are included in the selling process. The team creates a flow diagram that represents the process boundaries (Prospecting and Follow-up) as triangles and the rest procedures are squares. Arrows between the components of the diagram are added to show the execution order and relationships (look at the picture below).

The third and forth tasks are closely linked to each other. They are done by determining the maximum output rate of a process, measured in units produced per time period. Then the expert team needs to estimate capacity for current processes by defining the slowest throughput rate (meaning the longest time to complete a process). Procedures having the slowest throughput rate will be bottlenecks of a process.

Identify Requirements for Continuous Improvement
When the flow diagram is developed, your expert team needs to take the next step: identify needs and requirements for continuous improvement of your organization’s processes. First of all, the team evaluates further limitations (along with bottlenecks or procedures having the slowest capacity) to quantify the overall impact of bottlenecks to every process. Secondly, the team determines what process inputs and outputs can be changed to remove bottlenecks and eliminate their negative impact. Finally, it makes a list of requirements for modeling a better process environment.

If summarizing the said, your expert team needs to complete these two tasks:

  • Evaluate process limitations
  • List requirements for process improvement

The team can use "what-if" analysis to do the first task and evaluate further limitations. For example, what if we have a 15% increase in process performance; what if human resources do the same tasks with a 10%-reduction in productivity; what if manufacturing the product with a new technology. Such an analysis lets create "what-if" scenarios until tolerant limitations are found.

When the scenarios are written, the team needs to proceed to the second task and make a list of requirements for improving your company’s process environment. Cost, flexibility, quality, speed and time are the key parameters for setting up requirements. For example, your team can develop the following requirements:

  • Reduce work-in-process inventory (lead-time)
  • Engage additional resources (speed)
  • Increased efficiency of the bottleneck activity (quality)
  • Increase process capacity (quality)
  • Avoid using bottleneck resources (cost)
  • Minimize non-value adding activities (cost)
  • Redesign processes for higher capacity (quality)
  • Outsourcing certain activities (flexibility)

When requirements are defined and documented, the team can proceed to the next phase of the business process management lifecycle – the Design phase. This phase will be explained in our next article.

Using VIP Task Manager
The processes and tasks of the Analyze phase can be managed with help of VIP Task Manager. Your expert team can use this software solution to develop a BPM project that consists of a hierarchy of tasks assigned to team members. Bellow you can see an example of project tasks that can be created in Task Tree view of VIP Task Manager.

Analyze Phase

  • Examine Existing Process Environment
    • Define the entry points of process inputs and the exit points of process outputs (the boundaries).
    • Make the process scope document describing the boundaries.
    • Determine content (steps and their interrelationships) of every process.
    • Construct a process flow chart illustrating the process content.
    • Evaluate capacity of each step in every process.
    • Identify bottlenecks for every step in every process.
    • Determine processes having the lowest capacity rate.
  • Identify Requirements
    • Create "what if" scenarios.
    • Quantify the impact of the bottleneck.
    • Evaluate tolerant limitations.
    • Determine requirements in terms of cost, flexibility, quality, speed and time.
    • Document requirements.

The given screenshot demonstrates the hierarchy. You can see that VIP Task Manager features a range of tools for better task management. For example, Task Tree view lets plan projects by sub-projects and tasks; Filter Bar helps monitor and track tasks; Notifications panel allows receiving updates of task changes. Notes panel helps specify tasks by additional information. There are many other features that help manage your projects and tasks. You can try all the features of VIP Task Manager by downloading a free evaluation copy.

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