Monday, June 14, 2004

Business Process Mapping (Jacka and Keller)

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
President, Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

In her Talk Asia show at CNN, Lorraine Hahn asked Giorgio Armani how he is now ensuring that his very successful Emporio Armani outlives him. Mr. Armani’s immediate reply was by structuring the company esp. the creative, commercial and financial processes and to manage the cash flow. And since he has no children to succeed him, he added that he is preparing many successors, not just one.

Indeed, how do we keep our high-potential and high-productive employees? How do we help employees be motivated? How do we foster a culture of service excellence for internal and external customers? How do we make sure that what we are doing and offering are what our customers want?

Otherwise, our employees will simply follow existing systems, processes and rules without question. How do we encourage learning & innovation at work when we emphasize strict compliance to policies and procedures. How many times do we get frustrated when we a service provider tells us, “sorry, that’s our policy,” instead of doing something to help us?

In the book, Business Process Mapping: Improving Customer Satisfaction, Authors J. Mike Jacka and Paulette J. Keller wrote about process mapping and evaluation as a powerful tool to ensure that true value is being provided to customers, both internal and external.

The authors cleverly used movie making as example to explain the subject of Process Mapping and made reading the book easy and fun. “At its core, the story of Pinocchio is a process. As all good processes do, it as an input (Geppetto carving a puppet and wishing it were a real boy), it has an output (Pinocchio becoming a real boy), and in between it has a series of events—the actions—that achieve that transformation. Disney’s animators documented that process by the use of story boarding.” Process Mapping is to business what storyboarding is to movies.

Having done these, the benefits derived from Process Mapping are:

1. It is a holistic approach that helps explore the interrelationships of processes in the entire organization.
2. It is accomplished in a way that allows all employees—from executives to line personnel, including janitors—to have buy-in to the finished product.
3. It helps employees understand how their work adds value and instill additional pride in their work.
4. It focuses on the customer, both the next process and the final user of the product, and how that person sees the company.

The book contains lots and lots of examples and easy step-by-step instructions. The four major steps are fully explained. The book jacket described them briefly as:

1. Process identification – attaining a full understanding of all the steps of a process.
2. Information gathering – identifying objectives, risks, and key controls in a process.
3. Interviewing and mapping – understanding the point of view of individuals in the process and designing actual maps.
4. Analysis – utilizing tools and approaches to make the process run more effectively and efficiently.

Included in the book are various specialized tools like questionnaires, process analysis worksheets, hierarchy/ownership maps, and the techniques to be used in developing effective process maps.

The challenge is not only to make it stick, but to glue it, as in the words of the authors, “drill it down.” The authors quote Professor Diane Ravitch of Columbia University Teachers College: “The person who knows “how” will always have a job. The person who knows “why” will always be his boss.

The book is a must for HROD people and others in the management level. It is also for all employees who want to take the initiative of improving their jobs, making it worthwhile to understand how their work makes the world a better place.

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