Increase the number of people who contribute to improving a process
Often, when we are trying to improve upon a business process, we want to gather ideas from as many users of that process as possible. This is not always easy to do, especially when we have a larger group of users. Consider using brainstorming as a great way to gather input from a large number of users. Brainstorming works well even when the users are in different locations and it is not practical or feasible to get them together in one location.
Consider these best practice steps to brainstorm with a variety of individuals, across a variety of locations, to gather as many thoughts and ideas as possible:
- Put flip charts in a variety of locations in each of the offices impacted by the process improvement initiative. For example, you might put them in a cafeteria, in hallways around departments, in a conference room or any other location that is accessible by employees only. (For one of my clients, we utilize a room that has white board walls and post questions related to the process improvement initiative on each wall in the room.)
- At the top of each flip chart page – ask the question or state the problem. For example, The current process of paying vendor invoices is creating delays in meeting our goal of paying vendors within 30 days. What improvements might be made in the process to ensure we pay all vendors within a 30 day timeline?
- Hold a number of virtual meetings and send an email around and let people know about the process improvement project and state that you need and want their ideas! Let them know about the flip charts in each office and where those flip charts are located. Ask them to take some time throughout the day over a specific period of time (say one or two weeks to gather ideas) and write down an idea, suggestion, thought, concern or question on a flipchart in a location near them.
- Be sure to designate a point of contact or two in each office location who can: check in and tape filled up flips to rooms and ensure that there is always flip chart paper handy for participants to write on as well as markers to write with. This person may also serve as a point of contact if any participant from their office location has questions.
For a two week time period to respond to the question(s) asked, send at least one reminder after the first week. This keeps the initiative fresh in people’s minds and encourages further participation.
At the end of the time period for participation, ask the point of contact at each site to gather up the flip charts, compile the information and share with the business process improvement project team. One central point of contact designated by the project manager should then compile all flip chart data and sort and categorize as appropriate.
This information will then be used to craft an initial draft (or two) of a new process in order to share back with the individuals impacted to get their thoughts on a potential “to be” process.
I have used this best practice at a number of clients as part of business process improvement (BPI) initiatives and have seen great success in getting significant participation in the BPI initiative.
Remember, we don’t want to limit the number of individuals contributing to improving a process. The more individuals we can get involved, the more likely that we have champions of our BPI initiative who are, therefore, more likely to actually utilize that new process.