Establishing a baseline for tasks and overall processes.

7. jul 2022 | By: Morten Andersen

This is an essential activity because all too often, SLAs and KPIs are based on what the business needs to achieve and with what resources.  Put simply, if your team receives 500 sales orders in an average week and you have three full time equivalents, then each one needs to be able to process 167 sales orders per week.  There are significant challenges with this approach – firstly, business is cyclical and in addition to industry specific seasonal variations, there are other factors at play such as the variability of orders and the combination that you’ll receive in a given day, week or month.

There are two elements to this;

  • reviewing the different paths that users take to complete the same process
  • recording the time taken between various “way points” on these paths (typically the start and end of discrete tasks).

For a baseline to be credible and useful, you will need several hundred measurements and importantly, these must be recorded across the working day, the working week and must also include critical times like month end processing.  For these reasons, it is entirely impractical to time each process and task manually; you have no options but to use an automated mechanism to collect this process data.

Once you have the baseline data, analyse it, and spend some time reviewing bell-curve distributions and ranges.  You may or may not want to remove some “outlier” data as this can unfairly skew results.

This process is beneficial as it finally provides you with the data you needed when setting KPIs and SLAs.  Some of the other factors to consider are:

  • The variability of the process – standardised tasks and processes are easier to baseline and understand. In contrast, complex processes can be segmented into discrete categories for detailed analysis.
  • The scope of each process – if one user is processing a complex sales order then this will take longer than simpler orders. A good monitoring tool will allow you to drill down to the individual tasks and steps that make up the overall process.
  • The amount of autonomy that users need to perform the end-to-end process; where many tasks are performed manually, this is will reflect in the number of diverse ways different users execute the same process.
  • Risk taking by cutting corners or missing critical steps in processes may become clear – the purpose isn’t to judge the risk but if cutting corners is a broken process then it should be flagged as affecting the overall baseline.

Applications Adoption Solutions can be invaluable in the assessment of real-life baseline performance and compliance metrics for processes and tasks.  These work by allowing process specialist such as business analysts to define a “perfect path” for each process within a web application.  Once configured, the system will record every execution of the process associated with the path; these will be recorded for compliance, deviation, and timing.  Once this has run several thousand times across a few hundred different users, you will finally have an exact picture of how the process performs in reality.

It will be possible to review the completed vs abandoned processes, the time between steps / tasks and the comparison between disparate user groups.  You’ll see the outlier situations as well as the behaviour of the main group of users.  Drilling into the detail will find those application areas that are ready for streamlining, e.g., fields that users regularly loop back on, or process stages that consistently take longer to complete (indicating that the users is waiting or seeking further information before proceeding).  If there was ever a great example of the old adage about “the devil is in the detail”, this is it.

This analysis of detailed Application Usage provides the insights to accurately deploy the user improvement elements of the Application Adoption solution. These include provision of appropriate help content, training snippets and guided workflows.

If you’d like to learn more on how the team at Scansolutions can assist with improving your supply chain process or establishing a baseline for other tasks and processes, please get in touch.  We hope you’ve found some value in these blog posts and if so, look out for Part 2 in this series.

Series: Supply Chain Improvement

This blog post is part 1 of the introductory post titled “Five Ways You Can Avoid Blockages in Your Supply Chain Without Sacrificing Your Entire Budget”. It covers the subject of establishing a common starting point (baseline) for tasks and overall processes.

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