Process Maturity – Documenting the “As Is” Process

There are many challenges to defining and documenting a process for ongoing continual improvement and to ensure process maturity is in alignment with the overall business strategy and outcomes.  One such challenge is to be able to document the “As Is” process.

When documenting the “As Is” process caution must be taken not to accept the existing documentation, or flowcharts provided as the true baseline of what is really being done.  What are the current activities and procedures that are being used and what is the step by step workflow that participants and stakeholders are actually performing?  The actual is what really needs to be captured. 

The complexity of this challenge is exasperated by the fact that frequently when determining and “As Is” state for immature processes the assessor or process design engineer will discover that there is not one single process that is being followed but in fact many?  What then?

Non adherence to process is generally due to little or no governance, training, tools and a variety of cultural reasons.  The fact remains that we must document the actual.  The actual documentation of the “As Is” state when just starting out might require that you document several process flows.   

A recent initiative to document such a process for a national service provider in central US ended up taking months.  You cannot imagine the war room discussions that took place in the workshops to ascertain the current way they followed a specific process.  As is frequently the case, this organization had originally rated this process internally as a level three maturity. The documentation and assessment report that followed was a real eye opener to the business sponsors and IT staff for how out of control the service management processes really were.  They discovered they had not one but eight different processes and varied procedures, lots of redundant data, lack of control, frustrated staff, no visibility to business outcomes or cost… and the list goes on. This effort paid off because it helped to establish sponsorship and further commitment to improvement.  Information is an amazing thing!

Some helpful tips for getting started when attempting to improve process maturity:
  • Establish a project and define both the customer and process requirements and be sure you have the appropriate project team.
  • Document the “As Is” (remember this the actual) and baseline current performance to the requirements that you have previously agreed upon. Benchmark current performance.
  • Once you have the Gap Analysis Report you can design or redesign the new process, solicit feedback and fine tune before implementing the new process.
  • Realize a process is never perfect.  The most critical element is to ensure that you have a measurement system in place for ongoing monitoring and reporting that enables future improvement that can adapt to the dynamic nature of the business outcomes that this process is supporting.

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