People are the Key to Process Streamlining
I've been brought in to a few different businesses to review, streamline, "clean-up", and redesign administrative processes, and though all of the processes I've looked at are a bit different, one thing is consistent throughout: people are the key to the success of any process streamlining in a business. People have the knowledge you need to even begin to review the processes as they exist, the needs of the different parties, and the goals you want to achieve.
It all starts with interviewing the different parties at the very beginning, before you start to map what you think the process is, and before you set your mind on what an outcome of all the change should look like.
You are going to interview 4 different categories of people at the beginning of the process:
1. The person at the “top” of the process: what are their goals – both immediate and long-term? What problems can they spot from their position? What system / process / organizational changes are already planned? When were the last changes to the process?
2. The people “inside” the process: What is the process from their perspective? (This should be asked of as many people inside the process as possible – this can help identify who is “out of sync” or where there are cognitive disconnects with what the process is or should be.)
3. Any identified “SMEs” on the process: They should theoretically know the most about the process as it currently exists.
4. Any other stakeholders in the process: You may not be able to identify these right away, but process changes hardly ever exist in a bubble and will impact other people somewhere along the way. It is best to check in with these people when you identify them and ask what they need from the process, so you don’t inadvertently eliminate something essential for someone else. It may look like just a piece of paper to one party but be an auditable document for another.
All of this information is essential to really understand the moving environment around a process, the people involved in and around the process, and the end-goal of what kinds of change need to occur. Whenever you are looking at process change, make sure to start with and center it around the people!