5 key stages to process improvement whiteboard friday

5 Steps to Business Process Improvement: Whiteboard Video

In Process Improvement by Tamara

Reading Time: 5 minutes


Welcome to itas Whiteboard Wednesday, my name is Hannah Lincoln and I am the lead solution consultant here at itas.

This particular series is all about BPI. It’s about helping you improve efficiency and streamline the processes within your team. In this episode, we are going to cover the 5 critical stages to process analysis.

Now we’ve all heard the stories of those projects that don’t quite go to plan, perhaps they don’t deliver the results that are needed, perhaps they never finish or they take too long to finish. Okay, so we are going to help you avoid all that with these 5 critical elements.


Stage one is our understand phase, there are two key elements to this particular phase our initial diagnosis and our process mapping.

The initial diagnosis is actually the most important part of this entire project, this about identifying where to focus. There is absolutely no point spending hour’s process mapping when you don’t need to. I’m sure you don’t have the resources the time or the inclination to do so. The initial diagnosis actually tells us where to focus our process improvement efforts, this particular area should take no more than 2-hours, max. It’s not a big job and it should be done fairly quickly.

The second, process mapping is all about understanding the detail behind each process, identifying the areas that take too long, any bottlenecks and really getting into the deep aspect of that particular process. Process mapping can either be done incredibly well or incredibly badly. If you’ve got somebody in your teams that’s experienced with this then fabulous, if you’ve never done it before then I suggest you have a look at some of our future videos. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel and we will be releasing those shortly or alternatively, you can download our Getting Started Guide to Streamlining your Processes, which has also got a section on process mapping.


Our second phase is our analyse phase, again there are two key elements to this one, brainstorming and business case. So our first stage, brainstorming is where we understand the possible solutions to our process problems. This is the fun bit! My colleague Tamara has actually written a really great article on different creative ways to brainstorm and again, we’ve got some information in our guide should you wish to download it. The whole point behind this is to get other people involved, so don’t just limit yourself to your team members, speak to other people in your organisation and even get external parties involved, it’s really helpful.

So, our second part of this is the business case. It is where we understand the return on investment from implementing the solutions. I.e. there is no point implementing a solution that isn’t going to deliver a cost-benefit to the organisation. What we do is we delve deep into the costs of the different solutions identified and start to look at where the value for money is going to be.


Stage three is our decide phase, this is where we understand the how, the when and the what… So, what are we going to do? When are we going to do it? And how are we going to do it? This is where we actually figure out which solutions we are going to go forward with based on our business case.
This is one of the critical stages, so make sure you take your time with this one and you get it right, part of this phase should be a change plan. Make sure you plan what resources you are going to need and what budget you are going to need. Remember, all of that information should come out of your business case.


We are almost there! Stage 4 is our execution phase. There are two critical elements to this one, motivate and project management.

Firstly motivation, one of my favourite ways to keep your team motivated and into the project is to actually put it in as part of their KPI’s. By putting project goals into their KPI’s you’re actually managing performance as part of your standard HR structure and it makes sure they are as driven as you are to make sure this project succeeds.

The second element, project management. There is a huge amount of resources on project management, so I’m not going to go into exact detail but a couple of critical things I’d like you to consider. So firstly, a project plan. Really, really important. Make sure you plan out how you are going to do everything.

Secondly, make sure you’re monitoring that project plan, it’s really important that you are getting regular reports and updates on project progress and also your progress against those particular deliverables.

Thirdly, don’t try to do everything at once. With a project plan, chunk it down into smaller, achievable phases that you can then tick off as you go.


Okay, we are nearly there! Stage 5, this our review phase and in my opinion this is one of the most important. During this time we actually look back at what we did and not only do we look at what we did wrong and what we could improve but also what we did well, what learnings could we apply to future process improvement projects. With any luck, you would have staged your project management in your execution phase, so actually this review stage should be after each phase not right at the end, so you can apply those learnings across the board.

Things to think about are ‘did you achieve all of the goals that you set out?’, ‘If you didn’t how far away were you from achieving those goals?’. Do a gap analysis. Another couple of things to consider are ‘How was your resource?’, ‘Did you resource it correctly?’, ‘Did you fall within budget?’. All those things should form part of your review stage.


Okay guys, so in summary! There are 5 key stages of any good process improvement project… Understand, analyse, decide, execute and review. Don’t miss any of them!

Now I hope you’ve enjoyed this particular Whiteboard Wednesday if you’ve got any feedback we’d love to hear it. Please comment in the comment boxes below. For those of you that are interested in learning more we do have a free guide The Getting Started Guide: Streamlining your Processes.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Whiteboard Wednesday, give us a follow on Twitter and hopefully we will see you next time!

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