It is first essential to identify where the gap is to improve a process. That is, you define the current situation, analyze it and find the opportunities for improvement, and with that, the future scenario is proposed, but how do you get there? That's what I mean by gaps. The difference between what you have today and what you should have tomorrow is the key to identifying what you need to change.
- What is a process?
- As-Is process
- To-Be process
- Motivations for using them
A process is defined as a sequence of steps that must be followed to complete a task or job. In addition to the flow, processes consider variables such as inputs (raw material, data, documents), outputs (product or service obtained), tools (machines, systems, electronic devices), people acting as suppliers or customers, as well as responsible parties.
In other words, processes need inputs supplied by one or several suppliers, which are transformed through actions performed in a step-by-step manner to obtain a product or service delivered to customers.
For example, for a restaurant to operate correctly, it needs suppliers to provide raw materials such as meats, vegetables, flour, etc. And customers to order menu items. The cooks are dedicated to cooking according to the orders that come in; serving the dishes on time to obtain a payment for the food and the service in return.
Having a general understanding of a process, let's explain the difference between an "As-Is" and a "To-Be" process.
An As-Is process defines the current situation. Whether of the organization, a department, or a sub-process, the As-Is diagram portrays the present state of the process as it is done today.
For an As-Is diagram, it is necessary to get involved with the users, the people who perform the process every day, and know the step-by-step, the tools they need, the departments involved, and all the pertinent information.
The objective of an As-Is is to pose the reality, whether it is a messy flow, without standardization, with dead times, not very agile systems, without clear responsible users, or a relatively orderly process; the idea is to identify the points of improvement.
The key aspects to analyze in a process are:
- Flow: step by step activities.
- Decision points: processes are rarely entirely linear. In some activities, it is necessary to make decisions based on a criterion, and there are bifurcations in the flow. These decision points can also result in control points.
- Time: duration of the tasks and the time between them.
- Interdependence: some activities have dependence. Until one is finished, the other does not start. You must take the critical path into account. In addition, interdependence can also refer to the relationship with other departments.
- Variability: lack of standardization.
- Those responsible: each activity must have a clearly defined decision-maker; otherwise, who takes responsibility if it is not done?
A To-Be process defines the future state. Whether of the organization, department, or sub-process, the To-Be diagram portrays the improved form of the process and where you want to get to.
However, determining who to involve depends on the improvement points that have been identified. For example, if the improvements are to be made at the level of software and automation, it would be ideal to have one or more people familiar with the subject. But, in general, since a To-Be process defines a future and improved state, it will probably require investment. It is essential to have management involved since they will be the ones to approve the changes.
The analysis should involve people who understand the As-Is process and have the ability to question the current situation, thus finding points for improvement.
Motivations for using As-Is / To-Be processes
If you have any of the following objectives or motivations, you might consider analyzing the As-Is / To-Be processes to support you in finding a solution.
- Improve current processes.
- Reduce costs.
- Desire to automate.
- Increase customer satisfaction.
- Improve customer experience.
- Comply with new standards.
- Adapt processes due to an abrupt change in the organization.
- Increase productivity.
Remember, to improve a process, it is necessary to understand it, hence the importance of diagramming an "As-Is" that reflects the current situation and a "To-Be" that shows the proposals for improvement.