Episode 2. Establish the Trigger of the Business Process
2-1 Begin with leader-initiated
Once you establish the deliverable (final output) of the business process and the QCD of each deliverable, the next effective step is to think about how to initiate the process. In contrast to the deliverable (final output), which is the condition for ending the business process, we are now talking about the condition for starting the business process. The funny thing is that discussions about business processes tend to exclude considerations on how to initiate a process.
It is true that in some cases the trigger of a process is already fairly clear, for example responding to external inquiries, or processing applications from outside the organization. These can be considered passively initiated processes, and in most cases do not allow the possibility of not starting the process.
On the other hand, submitting proposals is an actively initiated process within an organization. For instance, if we envision an output as “Proposal for company A,” several people can potentially be in charge of initiating the process. For example:
- Sales member in charge of company A
- Sales leader in charge of sales division
- Decide by majority rule in a meeting
When operating business processes, it’s good to focus on a goal such as “consistently completing 10 proposals each week.” In this case, an effective initiator of the Proposal Preparation process could be the leader, who selects 10 appropriate cases to be worked on, and assigns appropriate staff members to each.
Consider the possibility of member-initiated
Alas, there are always problems with a system that does not allow the creation of a proposal without the leader’s initiation. For example, a sales member that just finished meeting with a prospective client will most likely want to start creating a proposal as soon as possible. He/she may come up with great proposal ideas while writing up the record of proceedings, and regardless of business rules may not be able to wait for the leader’s orders.
A process owner should contemplate the trigger of each process with an understanding of the whole, including the:
- Characteristic of the business process,
- Level of the organization’s maturity,
- And progress of the organization’s business
It may be necessary to change the process to member-initiated, in order to realize a more maneuverable business process.
2-3 Prepare several starting points
Within one organization, there can be members who are good at actively and independently creating projects, and those who contribute by performing work provided by their supervisors. In reality, there are many business processes where it is not realistic to limit the initiator of the process to only the leader or only members. In these cases it is good to define a business process in which both can initiate the process.
In the above Proposal Preparation process, we can think of some tasks that fall under the management of divisions other than the sales team, such as reviewing the rough estimate and judging the feasibility of the proposal. (In the above figure, this applies to 3. Review rough estimate.) It is questionable whether the utilization of the production team’s resources should be allowed every time a sales member has an idea.
Even in an Estimate Preparation process, we can think of some tasks that significantly use the production team’s resources, such as preparing detailed estimates and assigning resources to each factor.
We need to consider who can start the business process, and whether or not to limit how many times one is allowed to start the process, with an overall understanding of the process’s characteristic.
Define the input format
Establishing the trigger of a business process includes not only “WHO starts the process,” but also “WHAT to start the process with.”
In other words, we need to define the input format for starting the process, regardless of whether it is initiated by the leader’s whim or by a member’s desire to meet his/her quota.
For example, the input format for creating a proposal may include:
- Name of client
- Expected date of proposal submission
- Rough estimate
In reality, there may be many cases where proposals are initiated with too little information; therefore, to avoid this and to clarify the generation of tasks, it is important to clarify the trigger of a process.