Digital Roadmap Series: Define Where You Have Opportunity to Improve

In this series, we are learning how to simply and quickly get on the digital journey.  Last week, we learned about defining the problem statement.  This provides focus to the strategy and gives you a true north for the team.  This week it is all about where you have room for improvement.

Long ago, I was taught a valuable lesson.  I took someone’s process flow and assumed that it reflected what people were actually doing.  It bit me in the booty big time.  (Not sure if that was appropriate, but roll with me here…)
What I learned since then it that there is a big difference between the process flow and what is actually occurring.  In this step, we will take the time to clearly define what is actually occurring and where there is opportunity for improvement.  This is important to do because if you are going to change something, you can create a clear “as is – to be” to describe the change.  It also is critically important to understand what you should prioritize first in your journey.
To identify your opportunities, here is the approach I have found works best.
  • Before the meeting gather all “process flows” that people have within your scope.  Ideally, you do not want to build the actual process from scratch, but if you have to, it can be done.  Take all of those process flows and try to combine them into one flow.  Indicate where there was conflicting information.  I have found that using Visio is the easiest way to create process flows, but there might be up and coming tools that you prefer.
  • Get the same group of people together as the problem statement meeting.  In fact, I recommend this being held with the problem statement meeting, especially if you are flying people in or holding a 2 day session and get it all done.
  • Post the process flow you created from your examples collected up on the wall.  Make it big, because we are going to draw all over it.  If you do not have a process to start from, put up blank paper because you are going to need to create it in the session, my friend.    This will take longer, so plan that into your schedule.  I would plan for 3 additional hours.  Just had to do this myself and it was not fun…sorry.
  • Next, I like to reuse the same technique as in the problem statement session. Have everyone use their sticky notes again to write down what is not working for them within the process. Again, one idea per sticky note and then have them place it on the process flow on the wall. o You will notice typically large concentrations of sticky notes at the beginning of the process and certain steps along the way. Those are likely your biggest areas for improvement.
  • Then, walk through each step of the process with a big red marker (or other bright color of choice).  Touching on all of the below:
o   Is this what actually happens today?  If not, change it on the wall.
o   What does not work well within this process step?  Write down why.
o   Does this step create a rework loop (where you go back to previous steps to redo work)?  Mark the loop.
o   Do you have all the information or data to make an effective decision?  Write down what data is missing.
o   Is the process step manual?  Mark that down.
o   Prone to error?  What errors, mark it down.
o   Does it take a long time to complete? Write down the estimated time if known.
  • Now, you have this crazy masterpiece on the wall and a ton of areas for digital and process improvements. To close the session, create a summary of the session with the people in the room, listing the top areas of opportunity that were identified. REMEMBER – you are not solving in this session. This is a listing of opportunities to tackle.
  • If you want to go above and beyond, you can break out Visio (or enlist someone with that capability), to document three artifacts from the session.  The process flow, the marked up process flow, and the summary of opportunities. 
With that completed, you have a problem you are trying to solve and a listing of opportunities to start tackling.  You are well on your way to having a digital roadmap.  Next week, we will be covering re-imagining the process and building the plan.