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BPI ‘As-Is’ Process Assessment – Focus Phase

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown

BPI ‘As-Is’ Process Assessment – Focus Phase


  1. Graphical representations of current processes to be redesigned, depicting:   
    1. Key activities performed as part of the process       
      1. ‘Who’ (person or unit) performs each key activity
      2. Inputs and outputs of each activity (indicating inter-dependencies)
      3. Information/data stores (e.g. in databases or paper files)
      4. External players or ‘stakeholders’ who influence or form part of the process
      5. Major decision points within the process.
  2. Analysis of the current performance of selected processes, identifying problem areas (as indicated by rework, multiple approvals, delays, etc.), potential performance improvement, and related constraints/risks associated with implementing suggested solutions.

Client Value

  1. This documentation provides the knowledge and foundation upon which all process design, improvement, or redesign decisions are based. It allows the design team to visually represent how a particular process is executed, so that it is uniformly understood by External Consultant and the client, and key analytical questions are accurately addressed. The process mapping serves three major purposes.
    1. To help employees visualise how their work duties contribute to a larger, ‘end-to-end’ business process (that typically crosses over internal organizational boundaries)   
    2. To identify major problems and potential opportunities by examining in a systematic fashion the work that is ‘actually’ being done by employees (often not known or documented)
  2. To establish ‘baseline’ performance measures (often estimated by staff) against which the future performance improvements of the BPI exercise can be assessed
  3. If this deliverable is not completed, a situation may arise whereby:
    1. Current processes are not adequately understood to perform meaningful redesign.
    2. Redesigned processes do not address key problems that exist with current processes   
    3. Required inter-dependencies between processes are not identified
    4. Understanding and ‘awakening’ is not pervasive throughout the team members and management (e.g. because the current performance baseline is not viewed as credible).


The Focus Areas selected are now documented in greater detail. The team members decompose (down to the step level) each activity in the process, and analyse the results and present the findings to the sponsor. Throughout this activity, the team members draw upon information gathered during the Internal Organizational Overview or gather additional information, as required.
Processes are usually depicted in high-level process models or data-flow diagrams. Particular problem areas on these models are ‘drilled down’ an appropriate level of detail to provide a basic understanding of the key activities (and the underlying opportunities for improvement they present).
  1. Determine the type of process model required (Process Mapping.)   
    1. Define process-modeling requirements   
    2. Select modeling tool
  2. Develop ‘As-Is’ process models
    1. Gather information, as required, on the current process
    2. Conduct process modeling workshops and/or interviews   
    3. Document the process as currently performed   
    4. Identify:    
      1. Activity work-steps            
      2. Position (or unit) responsible for each activity step
      3. External customers and stakeholders (e.g. suppliers)
      4. Information (and, where appropriate, raw material) inputs, outputs, stores            
      5. Sub-processes (if appropriate)
      6. Major decision points within the process (if appropriate).   
    5. Develop initial model and review/revise with it design team       
    6. Measure the current performance levels of processes   
      1. Coordinate efforts to assess current process performance with the parallel ‘As-Is’ I/T Assessment and the ‘As-Is’ HR Assessment
      2. Determine the specific minimum set of performance measurement data     required to create a meaningful picture of the current ‘baseline’ performance of the process           
        1. To obtain a meaningful picture of the performance of the processes being studied, the data collected must align well with the scope and activities reflected in the process flow diagrams.    
    7. Develop, as required, data collection templates to ensure consistent data gathering.
    8. The process of gathering internal information on current process performance typically includes:       
      1. Reviewing previously-gathered information on performance levels
      2. Determining additional performance information needed for analysis
      3. Developing survey templates, logs or other methods for collecting additional information
      4. Defining frameworks for summarizing the information (e.g. barcharts, scatter diagrams, etc.       
    9. Common process performance measures include:   
      1. Speed applied and ‘elapsed’ time to complete all or a portion of the process; processing versus delay time
      2. Volumes e.g. number of applications processed per day; inventory levels; number of boxes shipped
      3. Total numbers e.g. total number of approvals, process steps, hand-offs between departments, etc.
      4. Percentages e.g. percentage of value-added time
      5. Output quality e.g. error rates, rejection rate, frequency of returns and rework, accuracy of billing, etc.
      6. Trend data e.g. strong seasonal variations based on historical periods of the past 2-3 years or more.   
    10. Collect and compile any additional current performance data from internal sources
  3. It is often useful to attach ‘applied time’ and ‘elapsed time’ estimates directly to the process maps (during process mapping workshops or interviews.)
  4. Gather relevant external benchmark data to determine (or refine) the size of performance gaps with other comparable organizations (Benchmarking)   
    1. Gather comparative quantitative information from external sources on the particular aspects of the processes, technology and organization under review.
    2. Utilize customer input (Requirements of Process Customers, Customer        
    3. Profiling) to validate the size of the gaps between current and desired performance.
  5. Analyse and compile findings from all assessments to assist in the identification of Priority Opportunities and Quick Wins.
  6. Review with the appropriate client authorities for validity/accuracy.



  • Do not create process models that are too complex or difficult to use. Even if the process it represents is complex, the maps should be easily explained to others. The objective is not to map how the organization handles every ‘exceptional’ situation encountered.
  • When measuring process performance, it is often helpful to request employees to allocate (estimate) the percentage of time they spend per year on each major process step identified in the process map. (Such an exercise might be compared to a mini version of Activity Based Costing. The roll-up of these numbers typically provides a revealing picture of the activities to which employees dedicate large portions of their time. However, care must be taken to explain to employees how this information will and will not be used. Otherwise certain employees may intentionally exaggerate their participation in some activities (e.g. if they feel that management favours one kind or activity over another).

Tactics/Helpful Hints

  • Throughout this entire exercise, the level of detail must be balanced with speed. Map only to the minimum appropriate level of detail (e.g. ‘what happens in 80% of the cases’) just far enough to estimate current performance, identify problems, and propose potential     opportunities and no further.
  • Employ an iterative approach when developing process maps. As a team, document and review the high-level flow diagrams of the processes. Repeat this one or more times until the team is satisfied that it has a general understanding of the ‘end-to-end’ steps of the     process, and that the major problems and opportunities have been identified.
  • When asking interview or workshop participants to suggest preliminary improvement opportunities, insist that they provide at the same time their best estimate of the benefits and costs associated with each idea they put forward.
  • One tactic to communicate the nature of process problems to key decision-makers is to simulate the static process models (e.g. using simulation software). Be aware, however that developing simulation model can be time-consuming and thus their creation should therefore be cost-justifiable.
  • Remember that since multiple variations of the same process may exist in different locations, multiple process maps may need to be completed (or a single generic map, with local variations documented in plain text).
  • Use random observations and sampling techniques to collect data that may not be readily available.
  • Create a ‘parking lot’ on a flipchart for ideas that are unrelated to the process being analysed, especially if workshop participants express concerns that their ideas will not be addressed.


  • To create a sense of ownership, allow team members to take a major role in driving the     creation of the process maps and performance measurements. The use of client team members enables organizations to transfer knowledge and ownership of the project so that client personnel will be prepared to take on the implementation at the end of this phase. Client participation in the team is important for organizations that are interested in skills transfer as a means of building internal change capability.
  • Ensure that the appropriate management team has been assembled for this phase. There should be representatives from all the major functions/areas. Customers and suppliers may also be included if deemed appropriate.   
  • Regular checkpoints with the team and consultants should be established to ensure that data collection efforts are underway and to work out any problems. Data collection is an excellent opportunity to use extended client team members who are involved in the process and may know how and where to locate information. An extended client team member from the finance/accounting function may be very helpful for information access and analysis.
  • Vary the time-frame for this activity according to the complexity of the processes. Factors influencing the duration of this activity include:
    • Availability of information required for ‘As-Is’ process documentation
    • Number of processes being documented simultaneously, which impact the resources available to complete the activity
    • Complexity of process being documented
    • Geographic dispersion of design team participants required to conduct the necessary workshops.

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