Who’s Holding the Ball?

Who is working on which Step, now? Let's make it visible.

Hi, there!


Currently, I am working on business improvement activities aimed at improving the efficiency of monthly tabulation work, at a customer’s site.


The point of this business improvement is to clarify « Who is holding the ball? »


Business flow in which multiple balls are thrown at the same time


The target business to be improved is the work of creating the section’s « activity report ».


It is work that considers, in a weekly or monthly cycle, the staff in charge of creating the report requests each team leader to submit the necessary data, collects the submitted data, and creates an activity report for the entire section with it.


making report outline


The detailed flow of this work is as follows.

  1. The person in charge of creating the report asks each team leader to submit data by e-mail.
  2. Each team leader submits the data by attaching it to an email.
  3. When the report is completed, the report creator asks each team leader to review the report for any problems.
  4. Each team leader confirms and requests modification and improvement if necessary.
  5. After repeating steps of 3-4 as necessary, the report creator finishes the report, then submits it to the section manager.
  6. The section manager approves the final report. (Report completed)


One of the challenges in this operation is that it is hard to see where « the balls » (of work) are. (Particularly with email exchanges…)


One report creator throws job balls (requests for data submission, request for report confirmation) to multiple team leaders. Since so many balls are thrown, it is difficult to keep an eye on things like if every ball is thrown back properly, or if it was in fact thrown in the first place.


As a result, the cost of checking who holds the ball increases, or a mistake such as dropping the ball occurs.


Let’s visualize how the balls are flying


To solve the problem of « Where the ball is? », the first step is to clarify the routes through which the balls of work go, in other words to write a flow chart of work.


To answer the question of « where the ball is » with « Here it is! », first you must know every path the balls could take.


I tried drawing a flow chart of the work to illustrate the contents of the work mentioned above. If there were a lot of team leaders, it would become very big, so for this example we only have two team leaders.


 activity report flow


If you have a diagram like this, you can print it out and stick some pins on it to represent the balls, then « who is holding a ball now » will become visible.



A business platform that clarifies the position of the ball


In the previous section, I mentioned you can stick pins on it to show where the balls in the flow chart , but of course, there is a system to do this electronically.


Generally it is referred to as a workflow system or a BPM system. This system is not only to merely show the position of the ball but also a business platform on which the people involved in that particular work can carry out its specific tasks.


In the next post, I will show you how the tasks are carried out, and how the locations of the balls are indicated using a workflow system (BPM system) « Questetra BPM Suite ».


making-report-process monitoring


That’s it for today!


About YAHAGI Hajime

幸せを生み出すITを追求するクエステトラの一味です。 国産の BPM ソフト Questetra BPM Suite で日本・世界を幸せにしたい。
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