Blog Posts Process Analysis

Process Streamlining and Simplification

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown


  • A systematic approach to improving/optimising business performance by eliminating unnecessary complexity in the current business processes of an organisation.

When to Use

  • This technique is used to evaluate and optimise the current performance of existing processes (as opposed to reinventing processes using a “blank-sheet-of-paper” approach).  This approach should be used when there are barriers to completely reinventing the process; there are regulations preventing complete change; or if used as a starting point to orient and stimulate the design team for other process redesign activities. (“As-Is” Process Assessment and “To-Be” Process Model)


The design team evaluates the work tasks and other elements of the current processes to determine unnecessary work, inefficiencies and redundancies. For each identified work step the team establishes the need and purpose of the task through a series of probing questions.
What is being done and why is it necessary?
    • Does this step add value?
    • Can the step be eliminated altogether?
    • Can the step be consolidated with other operations?
    • Is the work being performed by the right people and in the best sequence?
    • How could the entire flow be reorganised to reduce complexity and cross department interaction?
    • Can this process, or any part of it, be simplified or eliminated?
How is work being performed?
    • Why should it be done that way?
    • Are there too many inspections, storage or transport actions?
    • Is it too complicated in its present form?
    • Can it be performed in an easier way?
    • Should different forms or supplies be used?
    • Is the proper equipment and technology available?
    • Is required information available in the appropriate form?
    • Can safe mechanical shortcuts be adopted?
When should this step be performed?
    • Should this step be performed earlier or later, or combined with some  other step?
    • Is it in the proper sequence of the operations?
    • By performing the step at this particular time, is it slowing down other operations?
Where is the step being performed?
    • Why should it be performed there?
    • Can it be performed more easily in some other place?
    • Are files, reference, and material sources close to users?
    • Is the walking distance held to a minimum?
    • Should some other section be handling this work?
    • Can the office/plant layout be improved?
Who should perform the job?
    • Why should he/she perform it?
    • Is someone else better qualified to perform the work?
    • Who can perform it most easily, practically, and economically?
Typical topic areas for analysis to supplement the above general questions include purpose, sequence of operations, workflow, and  work checking.
Purpose of procedure
    • What is the purpose of the procedure?
    • Does the procedure accomplish the purpose?
    • Is the procedure justified?
    • Can the procedure be eliminated?
    • Can part of the procedure be eliminated?
Sequence of operation?
    • Does the operation unnecessarily duplicate, either in whole or in part, work performed in other steps?
    • Does the operation unnecessarily record information that has been or  will be recorded elsewhere?
    • Does the operation require the employee to make a substantial new  study of the information?
    • Is the operation performed at the proper place in the procedure?
    • Can the operation be co-ordinated and/or combined with another?
Work flow
    • Is the work received in a controlled fashion, so that items will be properly distributed and accounted for?
    • Is workflow planned and scheduled to meet external or inter departmental deadlines?
    • How does the work enter the unit, and how is it removed?  Is this the most efficient method?
    • Is there unnecessary writing or copying in the procedure?
    • Should any forms be improved or analysed further?
    • Can this step occur in parallel with another step?
    • Should a step, or series of steps, be done along multiple parallel paths simultaneously?
Checking work
    • Are control steps incorporated into each process to check work status and workflow efficiency?
    • Are control steps incorporated into each process to prevent and/or detect and correct errors, thereby reducing company liability?
    • Is a notation that a step has been performed worthwhile for control or delegation of responsibility?
    • Is the work checked; and,  if so, how many times?
    • When would an error be caught, if each present check were eliminated?
    • Would the result of an error be serious?
The answers to these questions then support the building of the “To-Be” processes.

Results of process modeling

  1. Review “As-Is” process maps
  2. Evaluate the current processes for unnecessary work (see above questions)
  3. Generate ideas for design
  4. Create new design
    1. Eliminate non-value-added steps.
    2. Simplify procedures (e.g. inspections, paper work, etc.).
    3. Review “As-Is” process maps
    4. Evaluate the current processes for unnecessary work (see above questions)
    5. Generate ideas for design
    6. Create new design
      1. Eliminate non-value-added steps.
      2. Simplify procedures (e.g. inspections, paper work, etc.).


Tactics/Helpful Hints

  • Do not let streamlining and simplification of the “As -Is” limit the design activities.  This will achieve process improvements but not wholesale rethinking of processes.
  • Eliminate redundant and unnecessary work steps.  Every work step within the overall process should add value to achieving the process output.  Throughout the process design each step should be examined as to the consequence of its elimination.  This will help to determine the value associated with the step.
  • Look for places to compress or eliminate cycle time from the process.  Places where there are wait time or delays are obvious target areas.
  • Ask if work steps can be performed in parallel instead of sequentially.  Computer information systems provide opportunities for the sharing of information enabling work activities to be performed in parallel.
  • Pain chain analysis is a useful tool to support this activity. This has been covered in a previous BLOG (click on link).

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