Phase One Results from a Facilitated Business Process Improvement Project

The following is extracted from (slightly modified for you, the blog reader) the book, “Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual,” published by CRC Press, the Taylor and Francis Group.  It summarizes the developments that occur during the first phase of a Business Process Improvement (BPI) project that is built upon multiple, facilitated workshops.  For workshop agendas, tools, and details, refer to the book, pages 167 to 171.

Business Process Improvement Planning

Companies and organizations make large investments in the development of strategic plans. For example, the market rate for professional support services to help develop strategic plans may cost four percent of the investment sums sought to support the plan, sometimes more. Over the years, we too have developed templates that we use repeatedly, to bring about consistent results. We use facilitated workshops to extract information and build consensus from senior management about their articulated hopes for the organization.

The strategic plan reflects understanding of why, what, how, and when the client wants to do, how much it will cost, and the estimated return on monies invested. The strategic planning document is a clear statement of the organization’s intent and should be used to benchmark performance.

The BPI strategic plan crystalizes executive sanction before the business process improvement project can move ahead and transition from the process examination team to the implementation team.

The process examination team’s process improvement plan provides clear communication to senior management about the team’s intention for the business process improvement project as a whole, and specifically as to how it supports the organization’s strategic initiatives.

Now is the time to sell the project to the executive team, receive their approval, and release the resources needed for completing a successful project.

Purpose of the Business Process Improvement Plan

The business process improvement provides a reference point against which the process examination team will be evaluated. The business process improvement plan also provides a synopsis of what the BPI team(s) has been working on over previous months. The document legitimizes the critical nature of the proposed business process improvement project.

Now is the team’s first and primary opportunity to sell the project. For success the team must:

BPI Phase One Check-Off

BPI Phase One Check-Off

  • Be prepared to defend the tables, statements, and figures presented.
  • Document known assumptions.
  • Ensure that the methods and results used are auditable and transparent.
  • Establish the accuracy of the data.
  • Include charts and tables.
  • Plan carefully.
  • Prepare an oral presentation with visual supplements for management.
  • Sell the project—your organization’s future may just depend on it.
  • Solicit support from the project sponsor.

Business Process Improvement Plan Elements

The business process improvement plan is the process examination team’s last action item before the project is handed over to the implementation team, and is a culmination of the team’s findings and decisions over recent months. The business process improvement plan includes the following components:

  • Executive Summary
    • The Problem
    • The Solution
    • Resources Needed
  • The Process
  • Vision, Goals, and Objectives
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Project Team
  • Risks and Opportunities
  • Resources
  • Next Steps
  • Conclusion

Executive Summary

Create a snapshot of the project that will capture the imagination of the executives. Concisely state why the project is critical and the results that will be created by its completion. Include the project costs and expected return on the investment. Bear in mind that the executive summary may be all that an executive has time to read, so the summary may serve as the deciding factor of whether the project gets approved or not.

The Problem

Business process improvement is either in response to or in anticipation of a changing environment. The reader needs to identify with and believe that the problem is real and that the organization’s ability to meet its goals and objectives will be compromised if the problem goes unresolved.

State the pain that the process causes to the stakeholders and why it needs to be stopped. Process measurements and workflows provide evidence of what is wrong with the existing process.

The Solution

Develop a lofty purpose for the business process improvement project. State HOW and WHY the business process improvement project will resolve the problems identified.

Resources Needed

The project budget shows the investment needed and by type of expense. The return on the investment made and the period for the returns should be clearly stated. Include the assumptions that went into the number crunching.

The Process

Codify the reasons why the particular process was selected for improvement. Demonstrate that an auditable and transparent methodology was used for the selection of the process to be improved, and include the results of the analysis.

Vision, Goals, and Objectives

Paint a picture of the future process; what it will look like, and how it will assist the organization achieve its strategic objectives. Include the vision, goals, and objectives of the business process improvement project and align them to the organization’s vision.

SWOT Analysis

Strengthen the argument for the process vision, goals, and objectives by showing how strengths and opportunities accommodate the vision. Determine how the weaknesses and the impact of threats will be reduced, converted, or eliminated by the project.

Project Implementation Team

Explain the remit of the implementation team and how and why the members were selected. Explain the selection criteria and present the implementation team charter.


From the Risk Register highlight the risks with the highest probabilities for impacting the project, and explain the mitigation/ elimination strategies. Summarize the change management plan and the stakeholder analysis and include them with the strategies.


Highlight the opportunities that successful business process improvement presents. Identify any opportunities that have been taken advantage of thus far, such as the quick wins discussed earlier.


Include the updated project budget and highlight the critical costs. Show the basis of the project rate of return and the payback period.

Next Steps

Present an updated project plan and give an overall view of the next steps and the estimated dates. Highlight the key activities such as business process improvement plan acceptance by management, implementation team training, process design, project testing and implementation, and project completion.


Here provide a review and wrap-up of all the above. No new information should be introduced in the conclusion. All members of the process examination team and implementation teams need to sign off on the document (literally obtain signatures) showing commitment and buy-in of its contents.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.


How to Converge Your Brainstorming Input—Key Measure (continued)

Brainstorming‘s third activity, frequently called ‘convergence’, may take the form of decision criteria. Criteria can take different forms, as shown below.


Here we define how an organization will measure its progress as it reaches toward its future vision.

Defined—key, measures, objectives, goals, and considerations:

  • A key is something of paramount or crucial importance.
  • A measure is a standard unit used to express the size, amount, or degree of something.
  • An objective is a desired position reached or achieved by some activity by a specific time. Objectives provide measurable performance [ ≣ ].
  • A goal is a directional statement that may remain fuzzy or subjectively measurable [ ☁ ].
  • A consideration is an important management issue, constraint, or concern that will affect reaching the objectives
    [ ✓ ].


Key measures must support measurements toward the vision of the organization. They enable a group to better shape and define the most appropriate strategies, activities, or tactics (ie, WHAT to do to reach the vision). In the Six Sigma arena, objectives are frequently referred to as CTQ, or Critical to Quality measurements.

Expected Output

Clearly and properly defined objectives result from this step, along with a list of goals and other considerations.

  • CTQ would substitute the following questions for the SMART test:
  1. Is it specifically stated with upper and lower specification limits?
  2. Is it directional so that we can objectively determine whether it is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?
  3. To what extent is it linked to specific customer needs connected to the objectives of the project?


Use ideation to develop candidate key measures: Describe the rules of ideation in Brainstorming. Define the terms (generally—methods of determining progress). List all candidate measures, perhaps stimulated by voice of the customer or customer types, and focus on items that overlap. When the group exhausts the list, review each candidate and separate into potential categories by coding them as shown. objectives [ ≣ ], goals [ ☁ ], and considerations [ ✓ ] Review potential objectives [ ≣ ] and make them SMART. Do not show the SMART definition however until after you have captured the raw/ draft input. Consider using homogenous break-out groups to convert raw input into final form, SMART objectives (ie, Specific, Measurable, Adjustable [and challenging], Relevant [and achievable], and Time-based). Separately list and fully define the remaining goals and other important considerations.

Remember friends, nobody is smarter than everybody. For detailed support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

How to Build Stakeholder Analysis and Galvanize Consensual Understanding

Define Organizational Stakeholders

Stakeholders are identified by examining the way that they interact with the organization in providing or receiving services or benefits. Stakeholders may include  external or internal persons, groups, systems, and other organizations that interact with the organizational group or a specific process.

Process Stakeholders

Process stakeholders are identified by examining  contributions to the process (inputs) and their benefits or what they receive from the process (outputs). The three-step approach below helps identify process stakeholders.

Step One – Identify inputs

  1. What are the inputs to the process or, what goes into the process? Consider using the FAST Creativity Exercise to help prevent omissions.
  2. Who provides each input identified in Activity 1 (immediately above). Associate the source(s) of each input.
  3. How is the input used? Describe the activities and how each is performed.

Step Two – Identify outputs

  1. What are the outputs of the process? These are usually “things” or nouns such as a form, report, or event (eg, deposit).
  2. Who uses or benefits from the output of the process—associate the client(s) or customer(s) of each output.
  3. How is the output created? Describe activities that are dependent on the outputs and how each is further transformed into something of value.

Step Three – Identify stakeholders

  1. Each input/ output can be linked to one/ more stakeholder by one/ more activity within a process. A stakeholder relationship shown in the table below clarifies the relationship between stakeholder, input, output, and activity within the process.
Stakeholders’ Relationships

Group Stakeholders

Stakeholders can be grouped together according to how they use or interact with the inputs and outputs. From the table above members and employers can be grouped together as one stakeholder group called “Payers” as they interact with the collection process in the same manner.

Acknowledge Stakeholder Interests

The motives and needs of the stakeholders determine their interest in the process and indicate how they can contribute/ derail the success of the project.

Define Stakeholder Strategy Plan

The stakeholder strategy plan is a blueprint for the BPI (ie, Business Process Improvement) team’s interaction with stakeholders. The focus on the stakeholder’s contribution shows how the team can use the stakeholder’s interests to support the project and make it successful.

The plan identifies

  • What the project wants to achieve with each stakeholder
  • Stakeholder issues and interests
  • How stakeholders will be managed
  • The frequency of communication
  • The changing content of communication over the life of the project

The plan is dynamic meaning that it must be constantly updated to reflect changes in stakeholder opinions over the life of the project. The template below supports development of the stakeholder strategy plan.

Stakeholder Strategy Plan Answers . . .

Stakeholder Name:_____________________________

  • The objectives of the strategy plan are . . .
  • It is important for the project to have a stakeholder plan because . . .
  • The purpose of the process is to . .  . So that . . .
  • Give a short description of the stakeholder group:
  • The members of this stakeholder group are . . .
  • Describe this group’s role in the process.
  • Identify inputs the group provides:
  • Identify outputs the group uses:
  • The stakeholder thinks that the current process . . .
  • The stakeholder thinks this because . . .
  • The stakeholders interest in the current process . . .
  • The stakeholder’s power in the current process . . .
  • The stakeholder thinks that the BPI project . . .
  • The stakeholder’s likely reaction:
  • The stakeholder wants . . . from an improved process.
  • It is important for the stakeholder to support the project because:
  • Without the stakeholders support . . .
  • The stakeholders support . . .
  • The stakeholder can contribute to the success of the project by . . .
  • The stakeholder can hamper the project by . . .
  • The BPI team wants the stakeholder to . . .
  • The three things that are important to the stakeholder are:
  • The team can guarantee . . .
  • We need to tell the stakeholder . . .
  • We need to tell them because . . .
  • The best way to communicate with this group is to  . . .
  • This will cost (prepare a budget):
  • We need to meet with this group because/ when:
  • At what points in the project is it critical to meet with each stakeholder?
  • How do we deal with confidentiality issues?
  • Can each team member be privy to all information?
  • Can each stakeholder be privy to all information?
  • What is the strategy to ensure that confidential information stays that way?

Develop a Communications Action Plan

The communications action plan identifies exactly how and when a project team will communicate with each target audience (or stakeholder) over the life of the project. The plan is flexible, as it is updated over the life of the project and recognizes the need for intervention and ad hoc meetings. Match the communications plan with your project milestone and plan outreach to the stakeholders and staff at critical points of your project.

Consider the need for different types of meetings. One-way communications may be appropriate when the team needs to reveal the decisions made and share information. Facilitated workshops can be used for decision-making and to encourage participation ad ownership. Ad hoc meetings may be held to deal with negative situations and to negotiate among stakeholders. The communications action plan provides significant input for the change management plan.

Determine Stakeholder Risks

The amount of power each stakeholder/ stakeholder group enjoys now and the extent to which this power will change is a good indicator of the level of resistance the stakeholder will have to the project. The more pain that the stakeholder is asked to absorb and the more power/ status (s)he loses, the greater the resistance. The figure below can be used to predict the amount of resistance from the stakeholder group.


Mitigate Behavior

From our analysis, we can develop an action plan to encourage the positive behaviours and limit the negative behaviors. A stakeholder analysis recognizes the fragility of the human condition and sensitivity to its environment. Your team must constantly monitor and evaluate stakeholders’ reactions by revisiting the stakeholder analysis at each milestone in your project.


Stakeholders (internal and external) have invested interests in your project and can provide positive support. It is the project team’s responsibility to identify stakeholder contributions and extract it from them. The project team needs to be aware of the impact a project may have on each stakeholder and their power base, and develop strategies that are appropriate for advancing their project.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify the skills of a facilitative leader.

Related articles

‘The Strategy’ Compared to ‘a Strategic Plan’

The term “strategy” is much like the therm “quality” and should used very carefully. The term “strategy” can be used unambiguously only if it is used with clear perspective. Be careful to distinguish between the working definitions of “the strategy” compared with “a strategy” and contrasted with “a strategic plan.”  To a sharp-listening facilitator, the earlier examples offer different terms that show discrete meanings.  Many people sloppily use the terms as replacements for each other, or synonyms. The organizational or divisional “strategy” is actually an initiative(s); typically called either a program or a portfolio—which could be further defined as a group of supporting projects. The program “strategy” is reflected by the the quantity and type of projects the portfolio contains. The project “strategy” captures the tactics that need to be completed to make the project successful.  The team “strategy” reflects the tasks or operations required to complete the project implementation and on-going operation and improvement. The meaning of the term strategy is largely dependent on the perspective it supports. To speak of strategy without emphasizing its perspective tells only part of the story.  Consider the organizational holarchy for more insight about the operational differences about “strategy”.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.


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