Posted by: buzina | July 16, 2009

The 10 steps of successful process design

In my recent consulting works, I found out that quite a few people working on ITIL® process definitions are not sure how to proceed with their definitions. Especially after they have defined (or copied) a rough process diagram along with some responsible roles they are unsure how to continue.

I recommend using the following 10 steps to get to a defined process.

  1. Identify the main stake holders
    Find out who sponsors your process, who should participate, who triggers it and who benefits from the results. Also identify the main supporters and your main opposition. Make sure you select the opinion leaders of the participating teams.
  2. Define and agree the goals, high level roles and basic rules of the process
    Do this with the most important stake holders. Make sure your goals are exact, measurable and complete and that your rules are simple, verifiable and realistic. Remember the rules are subject to change based on your further findings. Name the most important contributor’s roles for the process.
  3. Define the main process activities or phases
    If you are redesigning an existing process, take the view of the current process participants into account. Also use frameworks and other information to define your basic process steps. Do not overcomplicate things and stay away from complete process diagrams (incl. events, decisions and other things). Best is to use a simple tool like powerpoint to represent the flow.
  4. Define the target and roles (RACI) of each of the phases
    Focus on responsible and accountable roles and make sure that you can define the real target for each step. Again let targets be exact, measurable and complete. The summary of all individual targets should result in the overall process goals.
  5. Detail the individual steps back to front
    Start with the last step of your process and talk to the people targeted for the responsible & accountable roles. Define the output, input and trigger(s) of the step, add required consulted or informed roles and, if necessary, detail the step into subtasks. These subtasks are modeled in greater detail as the containing process. Build a list of required inputs while travelling backwards through the process. Try to match the required inputs with the outputs a step can (or should) provide.
  6. Repeat the steps 4 & 5 for the detailed subtasks
    All your subtasks have to be detailed and defined based on responsibility, input, output and trigger. If needed you can add another layer of detail beneath this and continue the detailing process until all tasks/activities or steps are defined.
  7. Match remaining input requirements with sources outside of your process and define interfaces to them
    All required input has to be provided from somewhere. So either the inputs are provided by the overall process trigger or other processes provide the required information. In that case you need to define an interface and agree on the method of delivery.
  8. Produce an information model
    Based on the input & output information define your information or data model. Combine individual information requirements into the fitting objects and document them. This will be the basis for the realization of a process flow within a tool.
  9. Combine the detailed subtasks into a complete process chart along with the inputs and outputs
    Include the original activities as phases within the detailed process flow chart. This helps to identify where each detail activity is located and improves the overall overview.
  10. Review, finalize and agree with all participants
    Take your process documentation and your information model and discuss this with all participants. For each role prepare RACI chart based on the information gathered in the previous steps.

The most important advice is to work your way up from the end of your process. This ensures that you focus on your deliverables and do not have to ask the people “What do you do in the step x?” but you may say “What do you need to do and know to produce this output?”.

During all the steps you should communicate openly through your enterprise and align your findings with tools used to realize your process. These steps help you to achieve an implemented and accepted process.


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