121
Chapter 13
Workow Characteristics
By the end of this chapter, the process management team will be able to identify
the non- value- added activities in the process and make some adjustments to
immediately improve the eectiveness and eciency of the process.
Consultants love low- hanging fruit. ese small, immediate changes can
be made to boost client condence and to prove that the consultant is working
assiduously to improve the process. e easy- to- grab fruit are usually found as
an existing opportunity or an indisputable weakness. ese changes are usually
obvious to sta, but not management, and can be easily implemented. However,
when the process has not been thoroughly analyzed and the root causes clearly
identied, quick- win recommendations may prove subversive, in the end.
Analysis of the process workows may give the process management team
some accolades. Immediate recommendations that will positively aect process
results can be made. e owcharts can be used to develop improvements and
discover the root causes of problems within the process. e team should present
the changes to executive management and share the glory with other stakehold-
ers. e business process improvement (BPI) project has already made a positive
impact and provided returns on the investment.
Introduction
Standard workow characteristics represent low- hanging fruit because they can
readily be improved or eliminated without hindering long- term solutions for
the improvements.
122 ◾  Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual
Value- Added Activities
Value- added activities transform and directly contribute to the conversion of
inputs into desired outputs. For value- added activities, focus on reducing the
time taken to complete. Examples include the following:
Approving the invoices for payment
Preparation of the checks
Approval of the disbursements
Non-Value- Added Activities
Non- value- added activities do not directly contribute to the conversion of inputs
to outputs. Examples include handovers, delays, rework, duplications, inspec-
tions, and redundant activities. Non- value- added activities in the process are
identied and dened as follows:
Bottlenecks—points in the process that slow down the rest of the process,
like the neck of a ketchup bottle that narrows to control the ow. URHere
bottlenecks are found at the receptionist as she has other mail to log, at
the accounts payable supervisor, the accountant, check signatories, and
the contract owners who have other responsibilities to pursue. Identify
where the process slows or where there is an excessive buildup of work. Is
there any point in the process after which the work ows faster? What part
of the process is longest? Reduce any pressure points by diverting work
around the bottleneck.
Delayssitting … present in all of the aforementioned processes. Where
in the process does work stop or wait? Whom or what is waited on across
the process? e reasons for the delay need to be investigated.
Duplicationssame actions are repeated at dierent points in the process
with the same results. Internal duplications can be eliminated. ose that
occur externally to the process or department are dealt with during process.
Handovers—whenever a document is handed over to another agent (or role),
electronically or manually. Count the handovers and try to eliminate or
reduce as many as possible. Most problems and ineciencies are introduced
when transferring outputs from one activity to another, typically in a dif-
ferent role. Our illustrated accounts payable process, in Figure 12.2 in the
chapter on Workow Diagrams, has four potential handovers.

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