Gap Analysis of Your Sub-Optimal Business Processes

'Gap Analysis' is the next installment of a series of articles about creating efficient government. Read the beginning of the series here

In the last article, I outlined the steps necessary to efficiently map organizational processes ; now let's look at process gap analysis, i.e. how to identify causes of performance gaps. Here's a few common 'fails' in business process design:

Performance gaps at process boundaries. Process 'hand-offs' can cause performance gaps for a number of reasons; the most common are due to wait times, and lack of accountability. In other words, work can 'queue up' while waiting for the receiving unit to continue the work process; and because of this hand-off, no particular work unit or individual is accountable for process success.

The solution here is to look for opportunities to reorganize where and how work is done. This means compressing the responsibility for a larger part of the total business process and assigning it to one person or work team. Reducing hand-offs, and increasing accountability will generally result in a more efficient and customer-effective process.

Performance gaps due to complex processes. Bureaucracies are great at creating monstrous, cumbersome solutions intended to handle all eventualities. Sometimes this complexity has accreted over time i.e in response to new requirements or expectations placed on the work unit. But the results are business processes that seem to have more exceptions than rules, with all the excessive checking and error detection that is necessary to make sure 'the rules' are followed.

So, step back, and see if multiple versions of the process might better accommodate multiple requirements. Different versions or streams of a process can be designed to address requirements of differing complexity or risk. Overall this approach usually results in a less onerous solution than trying to build a single complex process to handle all cases.

Performance gaps due to non-value-added tasks. Many common business activities do not contribute to business needs or customer value. Any time the process includes activities such as checking, logging, validating or approving work already done, there is inefficiency, and an opportunity for improvement.

You need to question why this excessive re-work is necessary. Note this may be due to the first point above i.e. too many hand-offs. Each contact or information transfer point between organizations may result in a need to reconcile data; this can be alleviated by reduction or elimination of transfer points. A well-designed process has quality built-in, and replaces error detection with error avoidance.

There are more gap analysis 'symptoms' to look for, but these are the biggies.

Next newsletter: Getting ready for change.




If you would like to discuss process performance issues in your organization, contact PRS Vice President Charlie Snelling 613 744-4084 Charlie@public-sector-performance.com.

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