Gustavo A. Diaz
Gustavo Diaz is an Associate Professor, College of Business at University of Phoenix, and a Six Sigma Black Belt. Gustavo is also an independent quality and process optimization consultant. He is a senior member of the American Society for Quality and a member of The International Society for Process Improvements (ISPI).
Is not unusual during an acquisition or a merger of two or more organizations, to perform a large process mapping exercise (fifty or more), before management can decide a course of action for existing business process, as far as eliminating, combining or replacing them. This paper presents a practical, combined methodology of a traditional swim-lane process mapping followed by completing a team-driven Pugh matrix and a process simulation exercise, in order to prioritize for analysis large number of process maps. After the maps creation, the Pugh matrix will comprise metrics categorized by customer line of sight, employee, operations, financials, as well as functional areas or different geographical sites. These metrics are then weighted during the ranking stage. Once the prioritization phase is completed, this hybrid methodology would entice the analyst to perform process simulations for the top ranked process. This step should be easy to perform, as we would have most of the data required already available. The simulation / process mapping tool of choice is iGrafx® Process 2013, due to its appealing price-performance, ease of use and centralized repository for maps.
Keywords: Process Maps, Swim-lanes, metrics, Pugh Matrix, iGrafx®.
Introduction – Business Process Improvements
Improving business processes begins with a high-level understanding of the process and its surroundings, using a SIPOC (suppliers-inputs-process-outputs-customers) diagram, as a way to encapsulate the process at hand. More detailed process maps follow. There are several commonly used mapping techniques used to document the various business processes within an organization. For organizations that prefer to take a graphical view of their processes, swim-lane maps are utilized. Among the advantages of these cross-functional mappings is the ability to communicate processes within your organization and identify touch points, hand-offs and lines of visibility with the customer (Szymanski, 2010).
The experience from quality initiatives in business and industry over the past twenty years show that improving the work content of a process, improves the work itself and the employee morale. A large toolset has been developed to implement these methods and to understand, analyze, and improve the business processes in an organization (Rosen, 2009).
Process maps address the key Six Sigma foundational concept of Y = f(X), or simply, outputs are a function of inputs. A well-developed process map can help to uncover the different inputs and their quantification, as well as potential rework loops, unnecessary inspections and help to avert failures in performance or delivering customer requirements (Kubiak, 2007). Process analysis require consideration of cycle times, elimination of unnecessary processing steps or looping activities within the process; it should also look for financial opportunities for process improvement, including cost savings, efficiencies, reviewing controls, or isolating the root cause of process problems (Verschoor, 2010).
Usually the analysis and evaluation of these processes is according to criteria like performance, cost, and timeliness, and compared to benchmark indexes, which are defined as attributes of the best in class practices. These benchmarks typically only pertain for some of the steps in the process, and are therefore difficult to evaluate overall. Relations among different benchmarks cannot typically be defined. Benchmarks help to compare relevant quantitative aspects for a business process analysis and optimization in the form of metrics concentrated in some aspects of the business processes significantly reducing an overall performance metric (Neuscheler, 1998).
However, during the research stage, there was no indication of an existing overarching methodology where a large series of business maps are evaluated as a portfolio with the aim of prioritization and ranking. Maps and their evaluation are usually treated as standalone work. The literature research shows mostly procedures relying on metrics like cost, time, revenue, ratios like cost/benefit, throughput yield, or labor required to perform the operations, etc. There are some prior attempts to create an overall procedure to compare and rank dissimilar processes. One of them asks to rank the process by opportunity result (revenue gain, cost reduction or other value add criteria) and opportunity effort (cost and time). Then it looks at these rankings to determine those with the maximum benefit/cost ratio and decide the order in which the changes are to be made (Cowan, 2005).
Methodologies Using Process Maps
The proposed methodology is heuristic in nature. The components utilized are proven methodologies in their own right. Their use together as a procedure has been successfully proven in several acquisitions and mergers taken place during 2010 – 2014. The four steps used in ranking a large number of process maps are delineated next.
a. Start with a classical swim lane map, along with an exhaustive series of metrics and operational parameters (see Figure 1).
b. Utilization of a Pugh Matrix exercise, where subject matter experts reach a consensus of the weight and the risk associated with a specific metric. A Pugh matrix methodically assists in the evaluation and prioritization of competing attributes or options.(R., 2012). A partial detail of a working Pugh matrix is shown In Figure 2.
c. Creation of a matrix multiplication of the Pugh matrix results and the metrics gathered during the process map creation. A partial prioritization results is presented below (See Figure 3).
d. The last step of the heuristic is to utilize a process mapping to create what-if simulations scenarios to validate the prioritization of process maps from cost and cycle time perspective. This aspect is addressed in a separate paper to be published in the summer of 2014. The tool of choice for this heuristic is iGrafx ® Process 2013 (iGrafx Process 2013 Solutions, 2014). This is a very cost effective process modeling and discrete simulation tool.
A detailed flow of this heuristic is shown on Figure 4.
Conclusions and Next Steps
This paper addresses a very practical approach to rank and prioritize a large, concurrent number of process maps for further decision making, like elimination, consolidation, or partial migration into other processes. A future step in the evolution of this algorithm is the automation of all matrix manipulations, and the creating of a cloud application to make it portable to any organization in the process of acquisition.
Cowan, K. (2005). The Lean Enterprise: Mapping out the process. Materials Management and Distribution, 50(2), pp. 1-44.
iGrafx Process 2013 Solutions. (2014, Apr). Retrieved 2014, from iGrafx, Inc: http://www.igrafx.com/products/process-modeling-analysis
Kubiak, T. M. (2007). Reviving the process map. Quality Progress, 40(5), pp. 59-63.
Neuscheler, F. (1998, January). The economic view-a concept using metrics to analyse and optimize business processes. International Journal of Computer Integrated Manufacturing., 11(1), pp. 52-59.
R., T. N. (2012). Pugh Matrix. (ASQ, Editor) Retrieved March 2014, from American Society for Quality: http://asq.org/learn-about-quality/decision-making-tools/overview/decision-matrix.html
Rosen, D. H. (2009). Process maps in clinical trial quality assurance. Clinical Trials, 6(4), pp. 373-377.
Szymanski, R. (2010, August 18). DRIVING BUSINESS SUCCESS WITH PROCESS MAPS. Savannah Morning News.
Verschoor, C. C. (2010). BUSINESS PROCESS MAPPING: IMPROVING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION-2ND EDITION. Internal Auditing, 25(3), pp. 46-47.