This blog post takes a look at what Process Modeling really is - distinguishing it from Business analysis and exploring the importance of process maps
More often than not, process modeling is thought to be a very tool driven, stick-to-book kind of a task, where a process consultant creates process models on a modeling tool and that’s pretty much it! Isn’t it? No!!
It gets pretty difficult at times to literally explain to people about the kind of work a Process Consultant/Analyst does. A few days back, I met a senior Solution Architect (SA) over a cup of coffee. Here is how the conversation started:-
SA: “So, you are working as a “Business” Analyst for this engagement, right? How is it going?”
I replied: “Pretty good. But I am not a Business Analyst. I am working as a Process Analyst.”
SA: “Oh! Pretty much the same right -- A Business Analyst and a Process Analyst?”
Me: “Umm...not really. I am creating process maps for...”
He cut me short and said: “Got you! You are creating flowcharts!”
I was speechless for a few seconds. It took me some time to explain that business analysts and process analysts are not one and the same and yes, one more point – process maps and flowcharts are two different entities altogether.
In a typical modeling exercise, you meet the process actors and understand how they perform their day to day tasks. Post these discussions, you delve into the AS IS designs. Once the AS IS designs are finalized and validated by the client, you focus on to the TO BE designs.
While conducting different ideation workshops with the client to finalize the process designs, a process modeler also looks into the following points:-
These points are not the only ones that form the part of a process consultant’s armoury but are certainly the ones that are of paramount importance.
OFIs (Opportunities for Improvement)
A process consultant is always on the lookout for “loop holes” in the current process. These loop holes or the “OFIs” are actually the red flags that should be addressed while designing the TO BE state.
Recently, while conducting a workshop for one of my clients, I figured out that the client had automated a majority of their procurement processes but the Voucher Matching (Matching the Invoice with the Purchase Order and the Goods Received) was performed manually. They did not want to automate the process as they felt that they could monitor and control the matching process more effectively if it was done manually.
When we deep dived into the discussions, I found out that the matching rules related to the allowed tolerance limits as per company policy were different for different types of purchases and they were a bit sceptical about the system’s capability to undertake the matching process, keeping the tolerance rules in mind.
It took me some time to make them understand that all they needed was an efficient matching rule List or a rule criterion over which they could run the matching process online. This would save lots of manual effort and time.
Highlighting pain points
In order to understand the processes at a granular level, a process consultant connects with the process champions. Process champions are the experts who actually dirty their hands in the day to day processes and are the ones who will explain the real process story to you. While having these discussions, a process consultant tries to understand the pain points/issues that these process champions face.
While I was conducting a workshop with one of my client’s process champions; I figured out that this guy was performing several “extra” tasks which were not supposed to be done by him but by a different set of individuals. The current ERP system in place was a bit complicated to handle and many employees found it difficult to adapt. Considering this and the fact that these employees were not trained efficiently, the client was left with no other option but to ask the process champions to execute the tasks.
The senior management will not be aware of these pain points as their focus is on the bigger picture – the future TO BE Process. A process consultant highlights these pain points to the senior management who in turn, try resolving these pain points by procuring an improved/enhanced TO BE system in place. There might be cases where the client may require a change in company policy and procedures to address these pain points. This can only be done if these issues are adequately brought to the senior management’s attention.
Liaison with Change Management
There may be cases where the process team and the change management team need face time with the same process champion. These sessions can become redundant and time consuming for the client and the discussions might not result in the expected output which defeats the purpose of arranging such type of sessions/workshops. A process consultant liaises with the change management team to avoid such issues.
I faced a similar issue a few weeks back and it was decided that rather than conducting separate sessions, the change management team and I would conduct joint sessions with the process champions. We demarcated our scope of work in terms of questions to be asked, points to be discussed with the client etc. and the sessions went on really well.
These three points discussed above might appear to be pretty obvious but they are the ones that require undivided attention and are a complete must have in a process consultant’s repertoire.