Process Improvement, Part 3

Last Friday’s call and net meeting focused on building a practical solution to a business user’s process problems.  We drew a process flow chart for a key customer service process for one of our attendee’s companies.  We identifed the SharePoint document libraries and lists needed to meet the process flow.  We developed one of the lists in SharePoint.  This week we will continue with the same process flow, lists and document libraries.  We will demonstrate some advanced SharePoint capabilities and process improvement techniques.   .  (This series is based on lessons from running a large process improvement project, using SharePoint, which saved $7.5 million dollars.  See below).   CLICK HERE to join our weekly SharePoint® Process Improvement Forum.  (Fridays, Noon to 1 pm, Central time, no cost) 

 This week’s focus: 

1.  Process Mapping:  Big Deal, Lost Art.  Continuing with the example from last week of improving a key service process…  We will discuss the concept of an “AS_IS” process flow and a “TO-BE” process flow – and when you need each.  We will discuss what symbols and tools to use in your flow charts.  How detailed should you get?  How do you handle approval decisions?  How do you handle escalating problems with SharePoint?  How do you reduce hand-offs between departments?  How do you reduce approval steps?  Can we design a process flow where 80% of the transactions flow through automatically, and only the exceptions have to be touched by a human being?

2.   Process Mapping Practice.   I will ask each participant begin mapping a process of their own.  Our goal will be to identify SharePoint document libraries and lists needed to solve the business need.  If you plan to join us, see Key Processes Where We Have Used SharePoint Effectively and Process Inventory for Services Industry Master.  Think about what business process problem you would like to solve with SharePoint.

3.  Basic and Advanced SharePoint® Features that Help with Business Process Improvement:  Here is my short list of SharePoint features that work well and help with process improvement efforts.  We will discuss them as we develop process flows together.

  • Check in / check out documents, avoid conflicts, avoid lost work
  • Version retention
  • Search file names and document content
  • Meta Data “Data about Data”, requiring Meta Data to be completed
  • Access / security / permissions – especially for those customers and vendors outside your organization
  • Usage tracking
  • Document retention policy enforcement
  • Manage storage space
  • “A SINGLE POINT OF TRUTH”, using ONE COPY of key documents, minimize duplicate files
  • Alerts when documents changed or added
  • Assigning tasks and alerting people when work is assigned

Stay tuned, check us out at or CLICK HERE to join our weekly SharePoint® Process Improvement Forum

CLICK HERE for full case study.  Some results from the project:

  • $7.5 million in labor savings over three years. 
  • Consolidated 36 offices to 13 with nation-wide set of standard processes
  • Removed 250,000 potential errors per year. ($30 saved per error prevented.) 
  • Reduced order error rates from 15% to less than 5% in some cases. 
  • Freed up 63,000 sales and sales support hours per year. 

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