How to Conduct Business Process Management (BPM) Workshops

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A state map details how a process currently works.
A state map details how a process currently works. (Image: Handout/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)

Conducting a Business Process Management (BPM) workshop is fairly challenging. However, it is rewarding in that it involves company experts improving existing processes. The objectives are to map out a current and future state map highlighting processes, opportunities and risks. A business process review workshop is often called a value stream mapping event. Typically there is pre-work, work done at the time of the event, then follow-up work, or homework, that is expected to be completed within a short period of time such as 30 days.

Things You'll Need

  • Team charter
  • Expert participants
  • Objectives
  • S.M.A.R.T. goals
  • Baseline data
  • Post Its
  • Markers
  • Large work surface
  • Large easel-sized Post It paper

Establish Team Charter, Objectives and Members

Create a team charter and identify team participants. Establish team objectives: anticipated outcomes, area of focus, process boundaries, and S.M.A.R.T., specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely goals.

Engage employees who are experts as well as newbies. Keep the team size relatively small (under 10 if possible). If it is a complex process, pick your experts wisely. Too many people (over 20) can keep the group from being productive simply because it is too hard to manage with so many inputs.

Book a location for the event for three days. Handle the logistics of travel and meal requirements, negotiating rates after finding out participant availability and establishing a date.

Send an agenda to the participants in advance, along with a meeting notice. Explain to them the expectations and direct them to gather any data that they may need prior to the event. If they will be expected to walk out on a shop floor, identify any protective equipment they may need such as a safety glasses or safety shoes. If a business process is being reviewed, identify any data that is required for the employees to bring to the event. This might include total current time to deliver product today, total costs, total number of units, total number of customers.

Event Activities

Prepare room with necessary equipment such as internet connections, water for guests, and easels where the team will be doing their mapping. Ask a manager or executive to do the opening remarks, providing support and detailing expectations and boundaries for the team's objectives.

Ask participants to introduce themselves and what areas of expertise they are representing for this activity. Request that they specify what they hope to accomplish by being at the event. An example might be, the purchasing manager wants better internal communications when orders are cancelled. Next, review the team charter to share objectives and goals.

Explain the process of value stream mapping. Tell participants that you will hand out post it notes that you will use to map out the existing processes. Hand them different colored post it notes that they can use to jot down ideas, concerns, or data that they must gather. Keep the meeting moving by not getting bogged down with ideas in the beginning. Set an area in the room for these ideas and concerns to be reviewed later in the afternoon before the meeting closes.

Affirm the boundaries of the process by talking through it quickly at the very high 30,000 ft. view or level. For example you might say, "We start with a customer quote, for example, and we end with the customer paying us for the product. That is the value stream." Next, highlight the quote process, the pricing process, the manufacturing process, the packaging process, the shipping process, the invoice process. These are usually broken down by functional groups that do buckets or sub processes of work. Sometimes these processes are serial in nature and other times parallel.

Use markers and post it notes to map out the current state map, chronologically, step by step through each functional group, identifying major tasks that are required to move the process along. Identify rework loops, approval loops, decision points, and note times where waiting (queue time) or inventory pileup occurs. At the end of day one you should be through the charter, the mission and the current state map normally.

Review team charter quickly on day two, and update if anything changed from the prior day. Educate employees on the seven deadly wastes and explain to them that you are going to be working on the future state map. Challenge them to envision a future state cuts lead time by 50 percent, reduces scrap by 50 percent or improves lead time by 50 percent. Discuss ideas and opportunities to achieve the team's objectives. Take them for a physical walk through the process to trigger their thoughts about new ways of looking at things.

Begin mapping the future state map, again chronologically on new paper. Combine steps, align processes, and use pull systems for inventory (kanbans) or administrative communications. Review current state and the future state maps on day three. Add a lead time ladder that shows number of steps, average time of processing per step, note any queue time, inventory, and scheduling bottlenecks to both old and new maps.

Compare the future state map to the team charter expectations to close any gaps that might exists. If team needs to collect data, assign actions and due dates to the action plan. Prepare the out brief report and make arrangement for the next team meeting.

Complete actions

Meet regularly with the team. Close gaps on action list, report on progress and assign new items as necessary. Actions may include but are not limited to purchasing equipment, re-aligning work processes, adjusting roles and responsibilities, and obtaining IT support for system modifications.

Survey the team participants after the event to make sure they were satisfied with the meeting logistics and outcomes. Measure team's effectiveness by measuring the success of their new current state against their S.M.A.R.T. objectives. Continue to report progress to executives until final actions are completed and new process is ready to be tested.

Document the new process, train everyone impacted and update existing procedures to accommodate improvements.

Close out the team once actions are completed. Reward and recognize the efforts of the team.

Tips & Warnings

  • Engage team by getting them to participate. Delegate with markers, stickies and assigning actions. Explain that the tools you are teaching them can be used for problem solving in any environment.
  • Be sure to set clear expectations, due dates and ownership at the beginning of the process. Do not re-direct the team or expand scope.

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