Process Design: 10 Steps to Success

March 08th, 2013

Tags: Process Design, Design for Six Sigma, Process Design for Six Sigma, DFSS, Business Process Improvement

Businesses require structured processes for operations to perform effectively, efficiently, and with the quality required by customers. In many organizations operations just seem to happen because the staff knows what to do with no formal process or documentation. The question to answer is, "Given this scenario is the process efficient, effective, and produces quality results?" If your answer is, "I'm not sure", then the following 10 Steps to Success will guide you through Process Design to build the formal structure and documentation that will optimize your operations.

Step 1: Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements are the key to designing processes that perform effectively, efficiently, and deliver the quality results that the process' customers expect. Your customers will either make you or break you. Don't forget that customers are often internal within your organization and not just the final paying customer.

Step 2: Functional Model

The Functional Model describes in detail just what a process is supposed to do. Building the Primary Function is the first step. In one or two sentences answer the question, "Just what is it that the process is supposed to do?"

After the primary function has been described the next question to answer is, "How do we achieve the primary function?" This leads to a series of How Statements. How Statements dictate the processes that must be designed to achieve the primary function.

Step 3: What is Important?

In this step you determine the most important of the How Statements based upon their ability to meet the multiple Customer Requirements that have been defined, rated, and ranked for their importance.

The highest ranked How Statements dictate the processes that must be designed to meet functional requirements that in turn meet customer requirements. The goal is to assure satisfaction of all customer requirements both internal and external.

Step 4: High Level SIPOC Process Map

SIPOC is an acronym that stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process Steps, Outputs, and Customers. This high level process mapping technique is the foundation for Conceptual Process Design. All inputs that the process requires to operate are identified along with who supplies them.

Only 5 steps are considered in SIPOC process mapping. Step 1 is where the process starts and step 5 is where the process ends which determines the scope and boundaries of the process.

Each step generates some type of output that is provided to a customer which could be either an internal or an external customer.

Estimates are made for process cycle time and frequency of process execution. Finally you determine how many full-time equivalents (FTEs) are required to execute the process which determines staffing levels.

Step 5: Staff Skill Requirements

Now that the process has been defined along with its functional requirements a skill set matrix can be developed. Answer the question, "What types of skills will the staff require to fully execute the process?" Use the matrix to prioritize the skills from the most important to the least important. The goal is to assure that the right people are selected to execute the process.

Step 6: Performance Measures and Controls

Feedback on how a process is performing is essential from a management and control standpoint. Are the customer requirements being fulfilled? Is the process efficient? How long does the process take? Customer requirements lead to the performance metrics that are appropriate for the process. A performance board and daily start-up meetings for the process participants are a simple and effective method for process control.

Step 7: Detailed Process Maps

Detailed Process Maps can be drawn using the swim lane mapping method where each swim lane represents the players who participate in the process. The players can be participants, groups, or departments within the organization. Each activity is defined for the process, step by step. The focus is to include only value adding steps.

A value adding step does three things.

  1. It physically changes the thing that moves through the process.
  2. It is executed correctly each and every time.
  3. The customer considers the step to be important to them.

Step 8: Work Instructions

Each activity on the process map requires an instruction that defines how to execute the step. The work instruction includes the Process Name, Process Activity, Who is Responsible, Inputs Required, Outputs Expected, and the sequence of detailed work steps to complete the activity.

Step 9: Conference Room Pilot Testing

Review each step of the process map. Assure that the work instructions can take you from step to step until the process is complete. Wherever the process stops, write a work instruction to get moving again. Once the process can be executed from start to finish without stopping Pilot Testing is complete.

Step 10: Training and Implementation

Using the detailed Process Map and the Work Instructions train the Process Participants on how to execute the new process. Assure that performance measures can be tracked. Implement and begin executing the new process.

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