Reduce Order Process by 1 FTE:
Business Process Tune-Up

The company knew they needed to look into a new system to run their business more effectively.  Wisely, they recognized that many of their business processes had evolved to either follow or work around the limitations of their current highly-customized system.  Rather than start a search for a system that would try to match the processes dictated by the current system (and build in obsolete practices), they decided to update their business processes and then look for a system that would match how they wanted to do business.
 
CIO onDemand was asked to assist, by teaching a group of employees how to map and optimize business processes, and then to advise and facilitate until the internal people had developed the expertise to do it themselves.  At the conclusion of the engagement, the company would have the ability to continue the continuous improvement cycle themselves.
 
We began with a workshop on how to flowchart a business process, using our proprietary methodology.  This is an eight hour workshop, held one afternoon and the following morning, starting with the basics of flowcharting (shapes, arrows, roles, etc.) and quickly transforming into hands-on flowcharting of an existing process in the business.  The team chose to follow the process for issuing an accounts payable check.  Once the team has flowcharted the process, they learn how to optimize the process by analyzing the characteristics of the flowchart.  Characteristics include frequency and repetition of shapes, color patterns and flow columns.  The team learned how to spot non-value-add activities and where the current system restricted best practices.

Now that the team had learning the skills for mapping and optimizing, they jumped into mapping other processes.  Next up was the sales order process.  Applying what they had learned in the workshop, the process for taking what the customer wants and turning it into an order in the system was flowcharted.  One of the keys is to clearly define where the process starts and stops.  For this process they chose the two points based on where the sales department first and last touched the transaction.

Key Takeaways:
  • Map & optimize business processes before undertaking system change

  • Training your own people in business process mapping pays future dividends

  • Even basic business process changes can yield large paybacks

After flowcharting the sales order process, the next step is to validate what had been mapped.  To ensure that the flowchart accurately reflects what happens in the real world, one of the mapping team members takes the flowchart and follows a transaction through the entire process in the business.   This involves sitting down with the employee who does the first step (the salesperson) making sure that the flowchart includes all the steps performed and noting any differences.  They then move to the next step, then the next, and so on until the end of the flowchart and process.  During the sales order process validation, it was discovered that the order went for approval three times – for pricing, for inventory, and for customer information.  The flowchart was then updated with the corrected information.
 
Next up was analyzing the characteristics of the flowchart.  Right away, the team focused in on the three approval cycles.  Even from just the pattern (three circular paths), something did not look right or efficient.  Diving deeper, the approving managers were asked about the approvals, specifically how often they disapproved an order.  In each case, the approving managers said they never disapproved an order – a clear indication of a non-value-add activity!  Looking at the process as a whole, the team saw the salesperson captured the customer order information, but someone else further down the line actually entered the order – a duplication of effort.  Just from looking at the flowchart, the team could see two major improvements.
 
By optimizing the flowchart of the sales order business process, the team was able to develop much more efficient procedures.  The changes implemented resulted in a savings of a full time employee and a reduction in the sales order cycle of two days!  Even with all internal time included, the company had a payback of their investment in three months.
 
Key takeaways:

    Map & optimize business processes before undertaking system change
    Training your own people in business process mapping pays future dividends
    Even basic business process changes can yield large paybacks
 
Business Process Tune-Up is a powerful tool, enabling significant cost savings, and when coupled with the preparation for a new system will result in reduced risk, better results, and shorter implementation time.

To learn more about our proprietary Business Process Tune-Up methodology, contact us today! – (206) 876-9229 or
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