All posts by: alainbrault

Organizations have a lot of information associated with their business processes.

Some of this information comes in the form of document such as procedures, work instructions, training materials as well as lessons learned from past team projects, but other knowledge exists only in the minds of employees who design, direct or execute the processes every day.

In order to make continuous improvement a key element of the corporate culture, we quickly realize the critical role of knowledge and the recording of that knowledge.

Without a simple methodology for recording this knowledge, in the form of visual mapping of processes, the gains of continuous improvement are lost over time with the movement of employees or simply by the changes, for better or worse, that everyone brings all along.

With a simple and visual method like Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), it is possible to map processes to describe the knowledge associated with each key business process that is overseen by the different functions of the organization such as as operations, human resources, finance, sales – marketing, etc.

Then, these processes can be organized in an intuitive architecture specific to the company, following the “best practices”, and can be visible and accessible through the organization in order to be able to train all the staff.

From then on, it becomes easier to harness the collective intelligence of the entire team to improve these processes for even more effective execution: “continuous improvement”.

The top-level enterprise process architecture might look like this:








In each of these high-level processes, there are the key processes associated with the function. Here is an example of a description of a process (BPMN) under the HR function:









The main idea is to describe WHO (the role) is doing WHAT (the task) and HOW (the methodology).

In this way, we succeed in empowering the “collective intelligence” of the team without falling back over time in the gains that have been made.







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You surely know the “bottleneck”?

Let’s go with an example:

The company starts with its owner, the only employee, and he wants to progress as quickly as possible. He invests hours and hours every week. Finally he can not do more: he is the “bottleneck”, right ?

He hires employees and collaborators. He must show how things work, the processes (which are not yet described), … and at the same time he must keep  up the momentum. He still misses time in his week … he is always the “bottleneck” !

Employees and collaborators begin to understand how things work, and in turn, they start to create value. The owner, as a “bottleneck”, gets a little rest, and the business continue to grow.

The processes are getting better, but we must always train the new ones. While we train the new ones, everyone then suffers the fate of the “bottleneck” while being very busy.

Now, because of the fast and random training, people are more or less familiar with WHO does WHAT and HOW (the processes). Everyone is doing their best…in their own way. The mistakes begin to appear and the team must spend hours to correct them while maintaining current operations. Each one becomes a “bottleneck”. It becomes more difficult for the morale!

There is also the turn around of some employees, which must then be replaced by new ones. These employee replacement costs may represent, say, 40% of the first year salary. Here again, everyone must invest a considerable amount of time to hire and train, even if everyone is already a bottleneck.

In the end, what is the % of time spent on adding value, VA (VA = Value Added doing the right things), and % NVA (Non-Value Added), or waste ?

The answer for Quebec or Canada is on average: VA = between 40% and 80% with an average of 60%. So there is an average of 40% NVA!

Imagine this cost of 40% NVA of your payroll! Let’s say 40% x 50 employees x $ 40,000 = $ 800,000 NVA!

It is then time to move to another level of organizational maturity with a good description of the key processes.

Now imagine that with these improvements, you make a 10% payroll gain, and this is possible! Let’s say a gain of 10% x 50 employees x $ 40,000 / year = $ 200,000 gain!

The description of key processes is the basis of process improvement, and everyone can contribute by participating.

The BPMN (Business Process Modeling and Notation) visual method and the use of user friendly and affordable software technology can make quick wins.

As long as the key processes are well described and known, WHO does WHAT and HOW, there are fewer mistakes and therefore there is more time to spend adding value. at all levels of the organization. This has positive impacts on the finance as well as the morale of the team!

The “bottleneck” can be then transferred to sales 🙂 so they can bring bring even more water to the mill!

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First, why describe the way things are done?

If we were alone in our organization and our memory was infallible, then it would not really be useful to describe our ways of doing things right?

But again, if you wanted to sell your organization to someone else, could a manual of ways of doing things would add value to your business? Probably so !

In short, describing the ways of doing things in production, sales, HR, accounting and so on, can save a tremendous amount of training time and minimize mistakes because everyone in the team knows clearly WHO does WHAT and HOW.

The standardized Business Process Modeling and Notation (BPMN) method, developed in 2005, simplifies the process description as much as possible. This method is very visual and has 3 basic figures or objects:

A process, a procedure or an instruction, starts with a start event (the circle), followed by a series of tasks (the rectangle), with if necessary conditions or choices of direction ( the diamond), and ends with an end event (the circle). Here is an example of a HR process -Select candidates according, to 2 views, or perspectives:
flat model or swim lanes.




We can then describe the HOW of each task …

To quickly find your way through your global processes, it is a matter of establishing a simple hierarchy, for example by organization function, or following a model such as APQC …

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Simply because it helps to drive the implementation of the strategy and action plan throughout the year and to bring about changes proactively instead of waiting at the end and having to make adjustments, sometimes drastic.

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, management gurus, have studied the subject and built a very effective tool; the balanced dashboard.

Why balanced? Because it does not only include financial indicators, but indicators according to 4 balanced perspectives to ensure that the 3 pillars of the organization are satisfied (Customers, HR, Shareholders) and that the key processes involved are effective:

 HR
 Customers
 Shareholders
 Key processes

One of the strengths of this tool is that it involves all departments and employees of the company so that everyone can work in the same direction on common objectives.

Because of its visual appearance, it becomes easy to communicate progress to the entire team.

Once the high level objectives have been developed and KPI indicators have been deployed, it is important to identify the key processes that need to be mastered or improved in order to guide your improvement efforts.

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