The article What VUCA Really Means for You from the Harvard business review defines the VUCA characteristics and how to approach them.
The unpredictable changes that result from VUCA are why organisations need clearly defined, consistent and simple business processes that can be rapidly adjusted to new requirements. Many of the organisations I work with have multiple, overlapping and inconsistent processes that have evolved without guidance and which result in a tangle of complexity where management don’t really know what’s happening.
The RACI chart below is an extract from a RACI implementation plan for ISO9001:2008 within a UK public sector operation. Getting John and Kate to agree that they had responsibility and accountability for the actions defined under What was essential to turning this plan into action.
For more on RACI charts, see the Accountability Framework Policy from Avon & Wiltshire NHS
The editable word document is here QMS Implementation_example
Examples of different ways to document a business process: process maps, BPMN, UPN and ancient poetry about beer making.
I’ve been using this trick ever starting to use Visio about twenty years ago. The example in the document below was created using Visio 2016 but will apply to older versions as well.
Business process mapping typically starts by writing each process step on a sticky note and then putting that on to a large piece of brown paper. It’s a simple method that works well, especially when all in a process workshop are physically involved in the process rather than sitting around a table. When electronic versions of these maps are created, the tool used is generally Visio or one of the many free BPMN mapping tools such as Bizagi.
Too often, people who don’t really understand process-mapping use BPMN to create process maps which are inconsistent, over complex and hard for business users to understand. The belief that putting a new graduate in front of a modeling tool can result in good process maps is misplaced!
Understanding and optimizing the processes and decisions made by people needs a more understandable approach. Reading a business process should be no more difficult than reading the original post it notes on a wall. But the complexity of BPMN is indicated by the current specification for BPMN V2 being massive 7.1 MB PDF download of 538 pages. Knowing how to use BPMN effectively is a daunting prospect and training institutions, consultancies and authors have a made profitable business by selling BPMN knowledge and skills. A typical three day course will cost around £3000. BPMN is an expensive choice, and the wrong one to use for business process improvement, although perhaps appropriate for process automation.
In contrast, UPN is described in five pages on the Tibco Nimbus website.
Although the simpler, more intuitive UPN (universal process notation) was published in 2004, the only tool that supports it has been Tibco Nimbus. Which means that if you want to use it, you have to engage a consultancy. This puts the cost of it out of reach for small businesses who may be outgrowing their existing business processes and ways of working and urgently need a simple, inexpensive methodology to map and examine their business processes. (See my article The Greiner Cycle: Process Failure and Rebirth. Has your start-up outgrown its processes?)
UPN is loosely based on NASAs IDEF0 functional modeling notation which itself spawned the IGOE diagram. It is simple and intuitive to use and describes work by using one simple process building block:
Figure 1: Diagram from https://q9elements.com/upn/
Compare that to the BPM symbols set here. And it’s not only the symbols that are confusing. The language of BPMN, which includes terms like throw, catch, signal and choreography, is not part of the vocabulary of business.
The simplicity of UPN makes it quickly understandable to all involved in business process review, design and use. This also makes it ideal for remote, online, process mapping.
Please contact me if you would like to know more about UPN or remote process mapping.
Processes need to be understood before they can be made agile. This is a great TED talk that explains process mapping.