After discussing the situation with the support management team, 11 processes were identified for documentation and improvement. The resulting process guide would consist of three main items for each process:
1. One or more swim-lane flowcharts
2. Detailed employee work procedures
3. Specific compliance methods
Swim-Lane Flowcharts. To break down the barriers between organizations, and provide an “at-a-glance” view of the organization, swim-lane flowcharts were developed after initial interviews with all stakeholders. These charts summarized all groups involved in the process, the major work events in the process, and all decision points. By looking at the charts, all handoffs and cycles in the process were immediately illuminated, without requiring any pre-existing knowledge.
Work Procedures. Once all stakeholders agreed to the flowcharts, detailed work procedures were created. These procedures provided step-by-step instructions on how to perform each task in the process, including what systems are used, what information is required, and when to perform the task. When combined with the flowcharts, these procedures allow a new employee with no background in the organization to step into any role in any process, and perform that task correctly with less than 8 hours of training.
Compliance Methods. Finally, steps were identified in each process to guarantee that the process was being followed. Some of these methods involved new reports or extra steps taken during a hand-off or at the end of the process. Other methods used existing steps in a new way to ensure that compliance information was communicated horizontally or vertically within the organization.
The written process guide allowed new staff to be integrated into the department in less than half the time required previously. Cross training increased significantly, allowing existing staff to work together more effectively and fill-in for each other as needed. Through compliance methods, management ensured that each process was implemented as described, reducing workloads throughout the department.