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The Design Phase: Evaluate Potential Solutions and Model Improvements

 

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Introduction
Design is the second phase of the business process management lifecycle. At this phase your expert team regards process improvement requirements (which were defined during the previous, Analyze phase) for planning an improved process environment. It also identifies and evaluates possible solutions that can be applied to improvements. Then the team designs a flow chart of an improved process environment and creates a model of key processes existing within the environment.

The Design phase includes the following two essential processes:

  • Evaluating potential solutions – Your expert team needs to determine and select one or several process configurations that meet identified requirements and can be used to implement improvements.
  • Modelling improvements – The team uses information gathered at the previous step to design process orchestration by creating a flow diagram based on specifications and documentation of selected process configurations and then build a model of an improvement environment.

These processes are easier to manage by dividing them into a range of simple, measurable tasks. Your team can use VIP Task Manager to plan the processes by tasks. Let’s find out what sample tasks can be created to step through the Design phase and carry out its processes. Then we will know how VIP Task Manager can be helpful for managing those tasks.

Evaluating Potential Solutions
First of all, your expert team needs to use requirement specifications as the key conditions for defining, evaluating and selecting potential solutions. This activity requires using a systematic approach that could help determine performance gaps of the existing processes and identify possible ways for eliminating process variation and non-value-adding activities. The PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) can be such an approach.

The cycle is to be applied in order to achieve the following goals:

  • Meet identified requirements
  • Define improvement solutions
  • Map out potential configurations of a new process environment

Obviously, the PDCA cycle includes four steps. The team needs to take all the steps in a consistent manner. Below you can see a description of every step of the PDCA cycle.

The Plan step
This step can be characterized by the following chain of elements: Identify – Define – Problem – Cause – Solution. The first four elements of the chain have been already regarded during the Analyze phase when current process environment of your organization has been examined and requirements for process improvements have been listed. The remaining element "Solution" requires your team to identify possible solutions that can be used to realize improvements while meeting requirements. In this context, the term "solution" means a certain layout or configuration of existing processes.

The Do step
The team selects a solution or a subset of solutions offering optimal process configurations. Then it tries to do "pilot implementation" of the solutions (or test the solutions) to evaluate possible effects to the process environment. During the testing procedure the team needs to carefully analyze behaviors of existing processes which are changed under influence of the solutions. Results of tests should be recorded.

The Check step
Now your experts need to measure the new condition of the processes and compare results collected at the Do step against expected results identified at the Plan step to ascertain any differences and variations. Charting data can make this activity much easier and visually understandable.

The Act step
Finally, the expert team analyzes differences between obtained and expected results and determines those solutions that allow applying changes including required improvements. Now the team knows what solutions can be used to implement improvements. It can switch to the next process of the Design phase.

Modelling Improvements
Your team needs to take some steps for modelling improvements which are based on solutions selected at the previous process. This purpose of this activity is to create a visual representation of the improvement design for further modelling and implementation of a new process environment.

The BPM methodology does not specify strict guidelines and instructions for modelling improvements. It’s a matter of a process and its nature to identify key steps of the designing procedure. So you can discuss possible ways of modelling with your team.

We suggest using a 4-step scheme for modelling improvements. Below you can see the steps:

  • Identify key stages for implementing improvements.

The team needs to define possible ways of implementation while considering selected solutions and configuration requirements. Through analysis of these ways the team identifies the one having the highest cost-efficiency rate. It means the best implementation way will be a way that entails the lowest cost, minimized time duration, and minimized number of stages and their iterations.

  • Define relationships between the stages.

When the optimal way of implementation is found your team needs to define relationships between implementation stages. Prioritization can be used to solve this issue. Priorities should be set for every stage so that the entire stage sequence will be defined. Along with priorities, timeframes and boundaries should be set. The team needs to estimate duration per stage and then determine stage boundaries (the entry and exit points of inputs and outputs of every stage).

  • Build a flow chart.

When the two previous steps are completed, now it is time to create a flow chart to design the improvement process and its steps in a graph view. The expert team can use the input data (priorities, durations, boundaries) to start drawing squares and triangles and arrows between them. In essence, the team repeats the same activity carried out during the Analyze phase. In such a way it designs a flow chart illustrating implementation stages.

  • Create a model.

Finally, the team develops a comprehensive model describing how to create an improved process environment according to defined requirements. The team uses the flow chart along with a process modelling method to construct a descriptive, prescriptive and explanatory model of a new process environment.

Using VIP Task Manager
VIP Task Manager allows your team to use simple tasks for planning the processes of the Design phase. The software features Task Tree view to categorize tasks and create task hierarchies. It lets plan the phase as a project consisting of groups, sub-groups and multiple tasks. Below you can see an example of project tree.

Design phase

  • Evaluating potential solutions
    • Describe desired results (expected output) to be delivered in accordance with requirements
    • Identify a number of possible solutions that can address identified problems and fix determined causes
    • Use a comparative analysis to compare the solutions with each other
    • Identify selection criteria (e.g.: the number of requirements met, the success rate, cost-effectiveness)
    • Select a solution or a subset of solutions that allow applying improvements in the best possible way
  • Modelling improvements
    • Create a list of possible implementation options
    • Conduct a comparison analyze of the options
    • Choose the most cost-effective option
    • Identify stages of the implementation process
    • Set priority per stage
    • Set duration per stage
    • Set boundaries per stage
    • Create a process flow diagram
    • Build a model of improvements.

VIP Task Manager offers a range of features to plan, do and track status of tasks. For example, your team can use Task List view to plan tasks of your project. It can use Filter bar to track tasks by various attributes such as Name, Due Date, Priority, Status, Assigned, Duration, others. When a task is completed the software sends an email message to assigned resources (team members). Collaboration between team members happens in real time. This capability of VIP Task Manager makes it easier for the team to manage tasks of the Design phase.

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