I’ve been involved in business improvement activities at customer sites aiming to improve the efficiency of organizing monthly data.
The main point of the business improvement I will introduce in this article is to clarify the location of the «Token» (The indicator of the current active Step in a Process).
Workflows where multiple Tokens move simultaneously
The target task to be improved is the creation of an activity report for the department.
The task is that the member in charge of creating reports asks each team leader to submit the required data, and compiles the submitted data to create an activity report for that department on a monthly or weekly cycle.
I have precisely organized the order of this task as follows.
- The member in charge of creating reports e-mails each team leader to submit the data.
- Each team leader submits the attached data in an email.
- Once the member in charge of creating reports completes the report, they ask each team leader to check it.
- The team leader checks and requests corrections and improvements as needed.
- After repeating  and , the member who creates reports completes the report and submits it to the department manager.
- The department manager approves the completed report (completing the report).
The problem with this task is that the location of the Token is not clarified (especially in correspondence).
Even though one person in charge of creating reports passes the Tokens to several team leaders (regarding data submission and report confirmation request), it might be difficult to keep track of whether every Token has been returned, moreover, the reporter sometimes might forget to pass the Token to the team leaders due to the number of Tokens.
As a result, the cost of checking where the Token is increasing, and mistakes such as forgetting to pass the Token can occur.
Let’s clarify how the Token moves
To clarify the location of the Token, identifying the route (i.e. drawing a business flow diagram) is necessary as the first step.
In order to be able to grasp the location of the Token, you need to know the route that the Token takes.
I drew a workflow diagram referring to the contents of the task described in the previous section. (I just set two team leaders in the diagram to avoid it becoming a bigger diagram due to having many team leaders)
In a diagram like the above, you can print it out and stick a pin in it to clarify where the Token is.
Business platform to clarify the location of the Token
In the previous section, I described the analog method using pins in a printed workflow diagram. Of course, electronic systems are provided that can handle the task.
It is generally called a workflow system or BPM system. This system not only indicates the location of the Token, but it is a business platform where the members involved in the business can carry out their tasks.
In the next article, I’ll show you how the task is accomplished and the location of the Token is clarified with a workflow system called «Questetra BPM Suite» (BPM System).
That’s it for this time!