Friday, 4 October 2013

Process improvement interviewing over the phone

Some things are better done face-to-face.  Process mapping is one of those things, but when your wife is a week overdue, then you're probably not going to risk being at the wrong end of the country.

So I spent a fairly frustrating couple of hours discussing reworking of a V1.0 process map that I'd done a week or so ago.  It was only a draft, came from a meeting that I'd had with the chap doing a review of their department and clearly was never going to be right first time.

So, it took a couple of hours and may be closer this time than last time, but again it most likely won't be right.  That's not a problem really, the idea is to get towards it being right and map the actual 'as is'.  What is really obvious is that the current process is really complex.  I'm not sure if we can make it better, but I'm fairly sure that there are a few tweaks that can be made here and there.

My initial take is that the process is too complex and there also needs to be some more formal QA in the system.  In a way, it's OK if the process is complex, but if it can be simplified then that makes sense.  The lack of QA is clearly more disturbing.  I'm sure that there is QA in there, but it wasn't obvious from what I was hearing today.

I think of an old-style photographic printing lab here.  They get photos in to process within 24 hours and also ones that only need to be back within a week.  The 7 day ones fit around the 24 hour ones, but even the slow lane is being checked to ensure that it's running at sufficient speed to complete everything within the correct timescales.  So they have monitoring processes and sufficient additional capacity to ensure that the backlog of work can still be done within reasonable timescales.  Even then, they can still run faster and for more hours if they need to catch up, and they can even outsource if something really bad happens, like a machine breakdown.

So, more QA and perhaps the ability to work a few more hours if they get a backlog and need to catch up?  Hardly groundbreaking really.  Well, no...but then it is 'improvement' and not 're-design'.