Recommendation of Process Improvement?

Will a trouble never happens on a Business Process that has been improved continuously?

==0. “Enjoy your Routine!”==


People from all over the world can make daily work “efficient” and “fun”.


Dreaming such an “environment”, I have been creating a Cloud-service, Questetra BPM Suite.


9 years, time flies…


This field where I am working is the system referred to as “Business Process Management”, in short, it is a “Business platform on which data can be conveyed”


And, the iteration of “redefining” flows of business operations are referred to as [Business Processes].


Then, will it be possible to prevent various troubles beforehand if the [Business Process] in the company becomes fair? (Being in the position of creating such a system, I shouldn’t say such a thing, though…)


Today, I would like to discuss that topic.


workflow-demo-offer-triggerExamples of Business Processes for Corresponding to product demo requests


==1. Issues flowing in it==

To begin with, I would like to clarify the “terminology”.


In a Business Process Management activity (BPM), the PDCA cycle is continuously iterated, which is:

Plan (Model): A Process owner designs [Business Process]
Do (Operate): General workers handle [Issues] according with [Business Process]
Check (Monitor): Supervisors monitor the status of flowing [Issues], and aggregate KPI
Act (Optimize): Supervisors and general workers share the empirical knowledge to take measures for speeding up handling or reducing errors
(Business Process Management)


Thus, we use terms and expressions such as,

an [Issue] flows on a [Business Process]
an [Issue] flows according to a [Business Process].


Though you may not understand intuitively, the following metaphor might help understanding.

-A. [Issue] ⇒ “a ball”
-B. [Business Process] ⇒ “a stream”

In other words, the person in charge of each Step will successively handle the “Issues” flowing to their place.

process-ball-downstreamingStream and Ball metaphor


==2. Issues Causing Troubles==

Then, what kind of [Issues] would cause “trouble”?


In the first place, even [Issues] flowing to the same [Business Process], there are differences in, every single variety of personality, such as

-“likely easy-to-handle Issue” or “Issues that need to be done right away”
-“Issues that are urgent” or “Issues with some time margin”

(Thin of your daily work, and come up with some of your own.)


As for Questetra, Inc. Ourselves, we have flowed 180 thousand [Issues].

* (Incidentally, we have in average of approximately 50 active [Business Processes].)


Speaking of our own experience, I have concluded that

“Issues created by humans” have a high rate of trouble occurrence.
(Excuse me for stating the obvious…)


==3. What Causes Troubles?==

I simply stated “Issues created by humans” above. More concretely, they are:

– “An Order report starting with purchase order handed to the customer”
– “An Examination starting with the proposed contract draft”
– “An Inquiry handling starting by an inquiry from outside”, etc.

And these [Issues] would often lead to troubles.


Since these are created by humans, each one of these are “very unique”.


Well, to enumerate while we still remember,

– This ball is too big!
– This ball doesn’t make sense!
– Is this a ball? (or trash?)

Balls like those have occurred rarely and led to troubles.


By the way, “Issues created by a computer” or “Issues created mechanically” rarely lead to troubles.

– Shipment of materials that starts with the reception of the claim form.
– Processing of hours-worked report that automatically occurs.
– Maintenance of Customer names that starts with scheduled processing every Sunday

[Issues] like these are easy to handle since its color and size fit the standard.


==4. Has “Recurrence” been prevented?==

Although I cannot explain from a fair position when it comes to ourselves, I think that “countermeasures” have been made to some extent.


Incidentally, even though I used the word “countermeasure” here, “countermeasures” in BPM activities means activities (Act) aiming to the improvement in a different dimension from “redefinition of” [Business Process] (Plan).

* Reposting
– Plan (Model): A Process owner designs [Business Process]
– Do (Operate): General workers handle [Issues] according to the [Business Process]
– Check (Monitor): Leaders monitor the status of flowing [Issues], and aggregate KPI
– Act (Optimize): Leaders and general workers share the empirical knowledge to take measures for speeding up handling or reducing errors


Well, even though I proudly wrote “countermeasure has been made”, honestly, I feel that the atmosphere which is “to point out the points to be corrected and be returned” or “to be redone from the beginning, relentlessly” is fostered year by year.


==5. Hate the Process, love the sinner?==

It sure is important to redefine over and over again, aiming for a better [Business Process] (a river that flows smoothly).

In Questetra,Inc., there are five [Business Processes] that have been updated more than 100 times in total.


However, I am thinking (especially recently) that there is a limit to respond to everything using a [Business Process].


That is, to assume every “ball”, and then

– to attach various sensors to the “river”
– to let the “river” flow gently

If you continue to do such things (although it may be possible to increase the number of “responsive balls” when you talk about only technology), it will not meet the cost-effectiveness at some point.


Of course, it can be said that the designation of [mandatory] data and restriction by [regular expression] should be carried out at least. However, when “the river became a certain level”, you should discuss on further revisions to analyze if “You need to deal with such rare cases”.


* By the way, the state where [Business Process] is undefined at all is very bad. If it is an organization, if it is a team, you should arrange the [Business Process] even a little so that [Issues] flow smoothly.



==6. So, after all, Human Education?==

That is the point I have considered many times before, but it is a difficult question.

– Organizational skills (?)
– Boss’s personal magnetism (?)
– Personnel evaluation system (?)
– Willpower does all (?)

There is the “Situational leadership theory” as well.


However, I suppose there aren’t golden rules for trouble prevention.

After all, I still believe “There is no other choice but to analyze the cause of the problem objectively” in the aspect of BPM activity. (Although it may seem quite textbookish…)


===6-1. Not recognizing the “Irrational ball” «Basic knowledge / Employment attitude»===

Sometimes the cases where a person who generated an [Issue] that resulted in trouble, he himself is not aware that it an “Irrational ball” occurred.

In Japanese-English translation, for example, to flow French sentences on a [Business Process].

I think it eventually it is a lack of effort by the Department manager or the Process owner. There will be no choice but to increase “occasions to learn about work”, if such an [Issue] has flowed. Also, as a team, you should consider creating a habit of mutual confirmation. In any case, management staff should be aware that it is necessary to improve basic knowledge (and attitude) of employees about practical work.


===6-2. Not seeking approval to flow an “Irrational ball” «Agreement within a Department»===

In rare cases, there are cases where big costs are caused by flowing a “ball”.

For example, it is a case where the an entire novel is put to flow in the [Business Process] of Japanese-English translation.

Certainly it may be “an [Issue] needed to be performed”. However, there are budgets in the company, there is also the problem of capacity (resource limit). When such an [Issue] has flowed, it is inevitable to consider “adding operational rules”. And if that rule was able to be incorporated into the definition of [Business Process], we need to consider how to deal with this by redefinition (redesign).


===6-3. Lack of consideration for flowing an “Irrational ball” «Agreement between other Department»===

There may be cases where we cannot avoid forcing to flow an “Irrational ball”, unfortunately.

In Japanese-English translation, for example, there are cases when “Japanese with mixed French” flows.

This is a subtle case with more subjective elements. As you can imagine from the word “consideration”, how you consider differs depending on people. When such an [Issue] was actually detected, you need to have the opportunity to discuss across departments on “what should have been done” and “what was a better option”. If you have a chance of having regular meetings, you should discuss face to face to ask “What did you think when you flowed it?” and “How did you feel when receiving it?”


===6-4. Actually, there was a way to avoid an “Irrational ball” «Advanced knowledge»===

There is a case where even though you have flowed an “Irrational ball”, it could have been converted to a “Fair ball”.

For example, it was a case that although you have flowed “Japanese sentences with mixed French” in [Business Process] of Japanese-English translation, you should have cut out the French part beforehand and put it in the [Business Process] of French-English translation.

That is about advanced know-how. For example, cases are were a veteran employee could be able to handle it as a “Fair ball”, or If it the person who received training could be handled it as a “clean ball”. If such an [Issue] can be confirmed, the department chief and Process owner should recognize “uneven distribution of knowledge” anyway. However, it is very difficult to tell how much cost should be paid to “share knowledge”. Regarding this case, I think that the judgment differs depending on department chiefs.


==7. Visualization is not a goal==

“Being visible” is important.

However, it is meaningless to be satisfied with “just becoming visible”.
From “what I could see”, what kind of Action was taken and what type of Re-Planning it leads to is important.


Improve everyday!

We, Questetra, Inc. ourself, would like to keep on iterating the BPM cycle, from now on as well.


About IMAMURA Genichi

CEO & Founder - Questetra, Inc. ||
View all posts by IMAMURA Genichi

Prev article - 15. Ambitions I Tried the Online Payment, Stripe
Next article - 15. Ambitions Who should Change the Work Style First?
Another article - IMAMURA Genichi Business improvement in the Cloud Era