At its most basic, this is about looking at all aspects of the part of the operation being examined, identifying the way it is being carried out at the moment, assessing areas that can be improved on, identifying ways to make that improvement, selecting the best and most realistic way to make that improvement within the given constraints and then making the change(s).
It involves carrying out a User Research Study (or two, or three…), producing User Cases for each process element, producing a User Case Map, understanding factors affecting each and capturing those in a User Case Profile, building the composite picture in a User Case Master Profile and working out how to communicate it all.
This may require observations, focus groups, facilitated group sessions, workshops, involvement of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), surveys, questionnaires, multi criteria decision matrices and many other techniques.
All of these enable a full picture of current state to be built. This is essential before potential improvements are identified and prioritised. A common mistake is identifying improvements and working to implement them, which later lead to the realisation that they were not appropriate or relevant.
When looking at an IT system it will definitely require the involvement of a User Experience (UX) specialist. When looking at a Business System, it may be beneficial to involve a UX specialist.
In October 2008 Logica Management Consulting with the Economist Intelligence Unit, carried out a survey of 380 senior executives in Western Europe. In this survey they studied success rates for business process change projects, many of them having a significant IT element, and covering a cross-section of different industries. This survey report “Securing the value of business process change” revealed that:
- 35% of organisations abandoned a major project in the last three years
- 37% of business process change projects fail to deliver benefits
- 30% of business process change projects fall short of expected benefits
- The companies surveyed were losing €10 billion annually
These facts underpin the need to periodically look at processes, their effectiveness and appropriateness, and make changes to them in a structured and purposive way.
A key aspect which is overlooked, is the validation of obtained requirements, at the point at which it is most cost effective to do so.
There is no question that requirements should be validated, scientifically checked to ensure they are appropriate. Far too often this process is not scientific, as it relies on one or more peoples’ beliefs and is therefore, too subjective to be fit for purpose.
Building in one or a few steps to ensure each requirement is validated, is essential to obtaining a Product Specification that meets the Customers Needs and Expectations, which will be later measured through the use of Acceptance Criteria.
A further necessary step is encouraging, or requiring, the different teams to discuss their findings, as a way to build veracity and robustness into the process. Having such discussions mean the team members are able to ensure their own ideas are incorporated, even when they have not been part of the original observation party and such ideas may have been gained through “organic research in the wild”. It also means they feel a sense of ownership for the output, that such ownership is longer term in nature and increases motivation to achieve.
A key tool or methodology enabling process design and process redesign is Six Sigma, Lean Sigma and Agile Sigma.