Are your internal business processes letting you down? You wouldn’t be on your own there. Most businesses have certain ways of doing things, and they’re not always the best ways. Clunky processes lead to employee frustration, lost sales, poor customer feedback and a host of other problems you’d probably rather avoid.
A process discovery workshop is the starting point for fixing those problems and increasing efficiency right across the board.
What is a process discovery workshop?
A process discovery workshop is a lot less complicated than it sounds. It’s a business term used to describe how you can identify process problems and find solutions. You gather all the relevant stakeholders in a room and discuss the processes you want to improve.
Both humans and technology usually share the blame when things go wrong. But what if it’s actually the processes that are causing the problem? Well, here’s a newsflash!
Broken processes are generally at the root of most business problems.
During a process discovery workshop you will:
· Clearly map out the process from start to finish
· Identify who is involved in the process
· Discover how much time, effort and cost is applied to each step of the process
· Identify pain points
· Prioritise what needs to change
Intrigued? Let’s look at why a process discovery workshop is so valuable.
Signs your business processes are broken
There aren’t a lot of businesses that experience significant growth while getting bogged down in admin. When humans spend too much time on repetitive, mundane tasks, they can’t focus on the more important things.
You know, like being creative, winning clients and developing strategy. The things humans are inherently good at. Machines, like computers, are great at boring tasks, and they don’t complain anywhere near as much!
That’s why process discovery workshops are so important. They let you identify everything that works well and everything that could work better. From there, you can find ways to improve your business processes.
Then your humans can focus on more human things.
Here are some of the signs that your business processes are broken and need some love and attention.
Leads falling through the cracks
Let’s set the scene. You’ve put heaps of effort into your website, it’s ranking well on Google and plenty of people are visiting. They’re even signing up for your newsletter and lodging sales enquiries online.
Sounds great, right? So why aren’t your sales figures increasing?
It’s because you’ve done the hard work to attract customers, but you don’t have the right systems in place to follow up on leads.
As a result, customers don’t get a swift response, and off they go looking for another company to give their money to.
This one should be pretty obvious to everybody. If customers are complaining about any aspect of your service, it’s likely you don’t have the right systems in place. Take a close look at what your customers most commonly complain about.
Long response times? No responses? Not being able to find the information they need?
These are all signs that something is breaking down when it comes to customer service. If you don’t want Karen knocking on your door and demanding to speak to the manager, your processes need to be fixed.
Processes take too long
Have you ever been in a workplace where simple tasks seem to take forever? We know, it’s annoying, right? If you question those processes, you often get told, “It’s just the way we’ve always done it.”
Well, if we took that approach to everything, we’d still be travelling by horse and cart.
There can also be an assumption that you don’t have enough staff. That might be true, but often by improving processes and systems, the tasks become a lot faster and easier.
Staff are bogged down with checking and reviewing
When you have a lot of manual processes, particularly around data entry, you also need processes in place to check the accuracy of that work.
Yes. You’ve got the initial process which is already clunky, let’s say entering data into a spreadsheet. Because it is human to err, you then need to check the work you’ve just done before using that data. So, there are two processes that could become one if you automated the original task.
Remember, when it comes to numbers and raw data, computers don’t make mistakes like we do.
Lack of accountability for mistakes
When something goes wrong in your business, where does the blame fall? Well, it should fall exactly where it belongs – on the person who made the mistake. It can be addressed, and you move on.
But what if you can’t even identify why a mistake occurred, or by whom?
Yep, that happens more than you realise because your processes and systems are fraught with danger to begin with.
Don’t blame the player, blame the game.
How to do your own process discovery workshop
Process discovery workshops usually have the best results when you work with a process improvement specialist. It might be a business consultant or your friendly tech company. But that’s not to say you can’t run them yourself.
Here’s how to make it happen!
- Start with your goals
Just like anything in business, it’s hard to reach goals if you don’t set them first. When running a process discovery workshop, you need to choose which process you’re going to fix. Common ones include:
· The customer journey
But it can really be any aspect of your business where you’ve identified some issues. Once you’ve decided which process you’re going to run your workshop on, you can start planning in much more detail.
Just a reminder, this can be a reasonably lengthy process depending on the complexity and scope of the process you choose. So, try to limit each discovery workshop to one process rather than trying to map your entire business in one effort.
- Who is involved?
Next, you’ll need to plan who is going to be involved in the workshop. As we touched on, the workshop can feature as many or as few people as you like. But, for best results, you’re going to want everybody involved who can add value to the workshop.
Some discovery workshops include all staff members, while others may only include a few key personnel. You’ll know what’s likely to give you the best information in your workplace.
Make sure you allow everybody involved the time and space to participate fully without feeling pressured to get back to other work.
It is always a good idea to get as many people involved who are likely to be impacted by the change in processes. Experts will tell you that building new processes is not the hardest thing to do but getting your staff to adopt them is.
Get them invested in the building process rather than just handing them a finished process and you’ll find your change management process much easier to roll out.
- Discuss the existing process
Now we’re into the meaty part of the discovery workshop.
What you’re going to do here is map out the process from start to finish. For instance, let’s use the example of a business still utilising manual processes for payroll processing. You’re going to look at every step of the process in detail, including who is involved and the effort and time required to complete each step. It might look a little bit like this:
1. Employee fills out a paper timesheet. (5 minutes each day).
2. Employee hands timesheet to payroll department each week. (5 minutes each week).
3. Payroll officer checks the timesheet for accuracy or anomalies. (5-10 minutes each timesheet).
4. Payroll officer enters timesheet information into payroll software. (10 minutes each timesheet).
You’ve now clearly established who is involved, what the action is, and the estimated time and effort required for each action. When you multiply steps 3 and 4 by the number of employees you have, you’ll get an idea of how long this entire process takes.
- Identify pain points
Next, you’re going to discuss the pain points. Pain points are basically all of the troublesome steps that annoy people or cause problems. Let’s be honest, this step is going to be reasonably easy because most people are more than happy to vent about the things that DON’T work well.
In the example above, even though there are only 4 steps, there are pain points everywhere. The employee wastes time filling out manual timesheets. The payroll officer wastes time checking paperwork, and then all of the manual data entry.
Pain points look different for all processes. When you examine the customer journey, for example, you may find various points along the way that customers aren’t really stoked about.
- Vote on the severity of pain points
Once you’ve got all of those pain points gathered together, it’s time to prioritise them. The best way to do this is with severity voting.
Just ask each person involved in the workshop to rank the pain points they consider to be most frustrating.
What you’re trying to get at here is not just how annoyed an individual person finds something. It’s more about the impact on the business. So, back to our friends in payroll, we’re looking at which step poses the most risk to the business if not fixed.
For example, the manual completion of timesheets may present a risk of employee dishonesty. The manual data entry step is susceptible to human error.
Identify which ones can impact the business the most, because you’ll be using that in the next step.
- Create a technology matrix
The final step is to create a technology matrix. A technology matrix helps you identify two factors:
1. The benefit to your business of automating a process.
2. The time/effort/cost required to automate a process.
You’ll then have a clear picture of which processes you can automate or improve, based on how much benefit they give you and the time or effort involved.
The obvious ones to look for are those with high benefit and low-cost. It’s a quick win that offers a substantial improvement. However, high benefit/high-cost improvements can also be extremely worthwhile if ROI demonstrates a real uplift.
Now, the ball’s in your court
So, while your work isn’t completely done until your broken processes are fixed, that’s basically the end of the discovery workshop. You should walk away with a clear idea of what needs to be improved and of course a plan to implement it.
Remember, that implementing those improvements, whether through automation or other means is the end result so that the time spent is of real value to the business. You don’t want it to turn into just a gabfest!
Oh, one last thing. It is a really good idea to run process discovery workshops on a regular basis to pick up gaps in your newly implemented processes. Continuous improvement will keep you on track!
Now if all of this seems a bit much to do when you have a business to run or if you feel that outside eyes might be able to bring some additional perspective that you might be too close to, then Human Pixel can help at any point, either by running process discovery workshops with you or discussing solutions once you’ve run your own workshop. Business process automation comes in many forms, and if your solutions are technology-based, such as CRM implementation, custom software development or even artificial intelligence, we’re the experts you can call.
What are you waiting for? Discover what impact a fixed process can have on your business today!