BPI - Process Walk Through and Process Measurement Analysis

Business Process Improvement projects can be applied to any and every process in any industry. Using BPI it is possible to increase the efficiency of any and every process. Processes though designed well, can become inefficient over a period of time. Besides, processes need to be subject to review periodically to determine the efficiency as well as to bring about changes required in line with the requirements of the business. In many cases technology absorption into the business operations necessitates Business Process Improvement and review exercise.

Preparing for BPI involves selection of the appropriate and most critical business process for the BPI exercise and this is usually done by the Executive Implementation Team consisting of the senior management and the business leaders in charge of the business segment.

Project improvement Team selection and training of the team members in BPI concepts as well as equipping them with the technical and statistical analysis tools and techniques is a must for the project to be successful.

Once the PIT team is reading and trained the task of capturing the process in detail and mapping it using the right flow chart method begins. The resultant flow chart becomes the basis for process walk through. The process walk through has got to be planned well and executed thoroughly for it brings out the problems, the shortfalls and areas that contribute to or hamper the process efficiency.

For the process walkthrough to be effective the findings have got to be tabulated in the form of detailed report, discussed with the process owners and the action plan with timelines has got to be finalized. The problem areas can be related to inputs, output as well as lack of training, skills, attitude or the environment besides several other factors related to the process.

Process walkthrough provides a lot of feedback for the PIT team members on problem areas which can be fixed easily. However this does not complete the entire BPI exercise. The process has got to be further evaluated with reference to its effectiveness and efficiency using data and reports.

Process Effectiveness Measurement

Process effectiveness can also be measured in many ways. Effectiveness of the process refers to how well the process is functioning in terms of its quality as well as output besides customer satisfaction. Data and reports maintained by the department show the actual performance or output of the process. Several data and reports in the form of Customer complaints, defective supplies or output, late deliveries, incomplete deliveries, rejections and rework etc are the critical parameters that reflect the process efficiency. Therefore gathering data and analyzing data in conjunction with process walkthrough becomes necessary.

Process Efficiency Measurement

Another important factor that is considered for the study of the process is its efficiency. Process efficiency includes the cycle time taken to complete the process or the task as well as the resources utilized to complete one unit of output. Further we can also add the quality parameters to the output measurement and the overall value added to the overall output can also be computed to arrive at the process efficiency.

Measuring cycle time provides valuable clue to the utilization of resources as well as the time. By analyzing and working on improving the cycle time of a particular process, the cost per transaction can be reduced along with shrinking the cycle time, which will ultimately reflect in an increase of profitability as well as increased through put which can boost the sales too.

If the Organization has adapted Quality Tools and Methods in its operations, then the data with reference to the process, output and all criteria will be available. In such cases, the job of the PIT team becomes very simple for they can use the available data for their analysis. If there is no system of recording the data through the process, then the team would need to look for alternate sources of collecting, tabulating and analyzing the data. It might also warrant the team to look through the transactions and build the necessary data required for analysis. Alternatively the team can also conduct sample experiments on the process and gather data for analysis. In many cases, historical data if pulled out from the early times can often provide valuable information and understanding of the efficiency trends.

It is not enough to gather as much data and records from the process floor, the PIT team would then need to work through each segment of the process and work out the theoretical cycle time at optimum levels. This then would become the basis for measuring the current performance. In many cases, the optimum process cycle time may also be available with the department but the actual process on the ground may have changed and therefore the process time might need to be recalculated once again to obtain the base point.

Preparing for the process walk through including preparing detailed questionnaire, interview formats and process familiarization calls for patient and focused attention on the part of the PIT members. The preparation time can run into several weeks. Once through with the process walk through, the output in the form of publishing of walk through findings and the action plan against the points observed and discussed during the walk through is very important. This becomes the first visible output of the BPI project.

Going through the available data, tabulating and analyzing the data to work out the process efficiency and process time takes several more weeks. At this stage the PIT team might require additional hands or the assistance of analysts who can help with the statistical analysis. However, the PIT should always adhere to the project timelines and the progress should be reviewed by the EIT periodically. BPI project involves resources and costs and hence the program calls for priority focus and monitoring by the senior management. Only then can the BPI project become successful.

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