Business Process Analysis:

Your Key to Quantum Leaps in
Process Improvement

Business process analysis is a critical tool to have in your process improvement tool box. Analyzing the current business process is a key learning tool that will enable the team to achieve dramatic improvements when designing the new process.

Michael Hammer emphasizes the importance of business process analysis in surfacing the unwritten rules embedded in a particular process before attempting to reengineer it.

In his landmark article published in the Harvard Business Review, Reengineering Work: Don't Automate, Obliterate" Hammer emphasizes the critical importance of business process analysis in the reengineering process. He states,

"Reengineering strives to break away from the old rules about how we organize and conduct business. It involves recognizing and rejecting some of them and then finding imaginative new ways to accomplish work. From our redesigned processes, new rules will emerge that fit the times. Only then can we hope to achieve quantum leaps in performance."

Business Process Analysis: The Basics

• Finalize Project Charter and Scope Document

• Map the Current Process

• Develop Process Cost and Time Data Model

• Document and Prioritize Process Issues

• Perform Root Cause Analysis on Key Process Issues

• Identify Customer Values

• Identify Embedded Assumptions and Work Rules

Key Business Process Analysis Activities

Finalize Project Charter and Scope Document

The process of finalizing the project charter and the scope document occurs at the beginning of a high-impact workshop. At this time, the sponsor meets with the process improvement team to share his expectations and allow the team the opportunity to ask questions.

During the question-and-answer period, the sponsor and the team clarify expectations and deliverables. This becomes the final scope document and project charter.

If changes become necessary during the course of the workshop, the team leader and the sponsor will meet to modify the project charter and scope document, as necessary.

To learn more about this process check out, Finalize Project Charter and Scope Document.

Map the Current Process

The current process map is a visual representation of the process that will be-improved. The input to this activity is the high-level process map developed during the scoping phase. On the scoping document , the high-level process steps are listed. These high-level process steps are used as a basis for developing a detailed process map.

The detailed process map will be used as the backbone for the team's business process analysis. The current process map will assist in identifying opportunities for improvement. For more information on how to develop the process map, see the Process Mapping page.

Develop Process Cost and Time Data

After the detailed process map has been developed, it's time to develop the cost and time data for the process. This is an input to developing a cost and time model that will be used to compare the current process with the redesigned process.

It involves determining the amount of time required to complete each task in the process and identifying the cost of each process activity. To learn about the cost-time model, go to the Cost-Time Profile page.

Document Process Problems

The detailed map of the current process is used as a basis for identifying issues or problems experienced in the current process. The process improvement team members brainstorm and record issues on Post-it notes. They post these notes at the appropriate places on the process map where the problems occur. After posting all of the team's issues, the team uses a nominal group technique to identify the most pressing problems. The key issues are then subjected to root cause analysis. The root cause analysis might take the form of the 5 Whys? technique or the fishbone diagram

For more information on how to document process issues, see the Process Problems page.

Identify Customer Values

A key component in process analysis is identifying customers values and assessments as to the performance of the process in meeting their requirements. Process team members interview key customer groups and gain the customer's perspective about what is important to them in the current process and how well the company is doing in meeting their requirements of the process. To learn more about developing customer values see the customer values page.(Coming soon)

Identify Embedded Assumptions and Work Rules

As Michael Hammer and James Champy indicate their book, "Reengineering the Corporation", it's extremely important to analyze the current process to understand the hidden work rules and assumptions that place limits on the current process. It's critical to identify these barriers so that they can be eliminated when designing a new and improved process.

Sometimes it's difficult to get the team engaged in this exercise. Some team members might feel that it's a waste of time to look at the current process and identify assumptions implicit in it. To learn more about this process, check out the Identify Process Paradigms page.(Coming soon)

Juice Your Results by Using a Workshop Format

I recommend that the entire process improvement team participate in analyzing the current process the context of a intensive process improvement workshop.

It's important to have the process improvement team work together throughout the analysis, redesign and implementation phases of the project. Why? This helps the team to:

. Develop a Common Frame of Reference

. Build Commitment of the Team Members
(who represent all of the stakeholders in the process)

. Achieve Synergistic Results from Having an End-to-End Process Perspective

To ensure the success of the team, I recommend that the intensive workshop be facilitated by a person with process improvement expertise.

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