How to Halve the Elapsed Time of Business Process?

This photo of a chemical plant visualizes the way process optimization works.

In my last blog I talked about bureaucracies. We discovered that changing a bureaucracy in some way is difficult. You need program separate of the organization for that. That prompted one reader to ask how to halve the elapsed time of a core bureaucracy business process. Yes indeed, how?

The photo of the chemical plant gives a good visualization of a complex business process. The photo shows the blue sky, the fast developing thunderstorm, the steam of the plant, the valves and other chemical apparatus, all placed in a desolate countryside. Optimizing a business process is like peeling an onion. From the outside going inside the view on what is really going on becomes more and more clear, and how you can improve things. This way the blue sky turns slowly into a desolated landscape.

The best solution for a bureaucracy is probably to leave it alone. I know it does not change the processing time, but it does not give you headaches either.

Approaches That Do Not Work

So you are stubborn, and still want to change the bureaucracy. As the mentioned blog explains you cannot leave it to the people in the organization, as that is not going to work. So you must be looking from the outside in.

What also does not work, is performing this task top-down. So starting with a business strategy assessment, and take it from there, is not going to do the job either. So the solution must be sought in solving this bottom up.

The problem also cannot be solved by trying to let the current employees work differently, while they are part of their original department. The 'normal' procedures will override all suggested changes. So you need a small group of people, working together in a project separate from the organization to solve this. Once a successful approach is established, you can start with changing the organization.

The Algorithm for Halving the Business Process Elapsed Time

Compared to the previous part the algorithm to halve the elapsed process time is quite simple. Use the term orders for a profit company. If your company uses another term, such as in not-for-profit organizations, use that instead.

  1. Create a list of processed orders. Include after service issues.
    This list should contain at least the following items:
    order -> name customer, date order, amount order, date invoice, date invoice paid, comment
    order-line -> name product, quantity product, amount product
    This list is your basis for improvements. It should be enriched and validated in a number of steps.
  2. Analyze the list, and discuss it in detail with a staff member of the involved organization unit.
    Take this list, and walk step by step through it, until you fully understand the list and how this organization exactly works. Aspects are:
    • How does the order, delivery, and invoice process exactly work?
    • Which organization units are involved, and in what way?
    • Is each order type processed in the same way, or is the routing dependent on the order type?
    • Draw the process chart. Make sure that organization units, products and process steps get their own colors and symbols.
    • Add per order line the exact start and end time per organization unit, and calculate the elapsed time.
    • Add properties per organization unit, such as the number of fte, the number of employees, average schooling level, and technology. Also, add specific conditions which control the process flow.
    • Wrap up. What are your findings for people, process and technology? How much capital is needed to deliver each product? What is the performance? How does the performance compare to other organizations is this class?
  3. Sort the list on urgency ("low hanging fruit").
    Urgency is here defined as in relation to the original question to be answered: Can we halve the elapse time? What are the most important causes of the current elapsed time? Are there ways of reducing this time? What requirements must be met to be able to succeed?
  4. Validate the sorted list with the project sponsor.
    Put the most important findings from your list together in a presentation for the project sponsor, and validate it with him.
  5. Define together with the sponsor the next step: Iterative implementation of a solution.
    Create an implementation plan for the issues validated by the project sponsor.

How do you change halve process elapsed time? We like to hear from you. Share your experiences with the Results2Match Community!

Are you looking for ways to substantially reduce the order processing time? Do you want your options validated by an independent management consultant? Have you ever considered a business process change round table that let you inspect your organization from a complete new perspective? Read now the Process Innovation flyer from Results2Match, and discover all advantages!

Do you prefer your own employees to be capable of guiding strategic sessions? Did they have the appropriate training? Are they guided and coached? Let Hans Lodder run your business competence improvement program!


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