Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

The Most Important Step in Business Process Improvement

April 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 173

If you have experience managing a project you know the importance of the Project Initiation Document (PID), but did you know the importance of a similar document when starting a Business Process Improvement (BPI) effort? While you may not consider a BPI effort as large a project as a system implementation, you do require the same type of information if you want to stay on track and avoid scope creep.

In BPI work, I call this document the Scope Definition Document (SDD) and consider it the most important step towards successful process improvement.

Whether you lead a regular information technology-type project and use the PID or a process improvement project and use the SDD, you should consider these reference documents key tools that you never skip.

A PID includes information such as the business case, deliverables, timing, risks, budgets, and resources.

In BPI work, the SDD provides the blueprint for the process you want to improve, and it provides you with a vehicle to gain agreement on the following areas:

  1. Process Owner: person responsible for the end-to-end process
  2. Description: definition or purpose
  3. Boundaries: breadth (start and end)
  4. Process Responsibilities: major tasks the process delivers
  5. Client/Customer and Needs: recipients of the process and what is important to them
  6. Key Stakeholders and Needs: other areas or departments affected by the process and what they require
  7. Measurements of Success: what the business should measure to ensure the process meets the client/customer/stakeholders needs

Several of the SDD components warrant additional information.

Description: When writing the description, pay special attention to the terminology used and avoid using technical, unusual, or cultural terms without explaining what the word means - after all, a definition should define, not confuse. How often have you found yourself thinking a word meant one thing, while someone else had a totally opposite understanding of it? This becomes more of a problem when you work for a global company whose employees reside in different countries.

It may seem easy, but I have seen this task alone consume significant time. Use an example if necessary to further define a process, and if you want to specifically exclude something from the scope of a process, this is a good place to identify the exclusion.

Boundaries: Clearly identifying the boundaries will save you time later in the project and help you to avoid scope creep. The boundaries may seem obvious to you, but once a project team starts talking about where the process begins and ends, you will appreciate the clarity the SDD brings to the work.

There is no right or wrong answer to where a process begins and ends. It all depends on the project team's discussion and the sponsor's approval of the process boundaries, so that you can stay on track. The "boundary" decision becomes evident when you move to mapping the process.

Measurements of Success: When identifying the measurements of success, focus on the client/customer needs and identify measurements that address those needs. At this point, focus on what you should measure, not how you will measure it. Save the "how" for later (step 7 of the 10 steps). If you spend time at the beginning of a process improvement project on how to measure something, the project team will get sidetracked worrying about the difficulty of the metric itself.

The Scope Definition Document should fit on a single piece of paper so that everyone can use it as a quick reference guide. The temptation to add a second page will surface, but the effectiveness of the document is its apparent brevity while actually providing considerable depth!

Establishing the foundation by developing a SDD is the second of ten steps to improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and adaptability of your business processes, so spend some time focusing on it. Create the blueprint to guide your work.

Copyright 2012 Susan Page

Susan Page is a manager, HRIS for a major entertainment company in Orlando, FL. She has written The Power of Business Process Improvement, a practical, solution-oriented book published by the American Management Association.

Visit her web site and blog at: View her LinkedIn profile at:

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Process Improvement


Business Process


Business Process Improvement


Process Improvement Project



In India, employment opportunities are set to grow by a good margin in the coming year, a phase which was started in the turn of the second decade of the 21st century. organisation, candidates with

By: Sarkariexam l Business > Careers Employment l April 01, 2013 lViews: 11708

Sometimes it is amazing to see that certain jobs can precipitate huge turnouts in the recruitment drives. It is as if thousands of people were waiting for the vacancy advertisements and the moment

By: Sarkariexam l Business > Careers Employment l December 30, 2012 lViews: 690

In recent times, jobs in healthcare segments have grown tremendously. It is anticipated that this growth curve will continue for the times to come. Various factors are responsible for this

By: Sarkariexam l Business > Career Advice l December 27, 2012 lViews: 448

Are you in a dilemma whether to choose web based CRM or not? If yes, don’t worry. You aren’t the sole person having this doubt.There are numerous firms trying to make out whether investing in a

By: Reneta Vasileva l Business > Customer Service l December 23, 2012 lViews: 409

If you think about it you will realize the fact that each business has its own set of risks that are involved in it.The trade secrets that you have and the information related to the business is what

By: brumbrum1 l Business > Risk Management l December 23, 2012 lViews: 263

As the time is changing, concierge management services are now growing despite the slowing economies of the world. The main reason of it is the need that is highly specific to the people who like to

By: willsmith10 l Business > Management l December 23, 2012 lViews: 334

We get up early in the morning, rush to the office and confine ourselves with the same monotonous and stressful work. all It is a true fact that that we are living in a competitive age where in a

By: willsmith10l Business > Productivityl November 21, 2012 lViews: 181

The time it takes to retrieve a document is too long. Since time is precious it is best to opt for this system. Besides, the manual system requires labor and, most importantly, space.The time it

By: Simon Lival Business > Productivityl November 18, 2012 lViews: 202

'Planning' is the most crucial aspect of Administration. However, in order to get the most out of your planning, you must always consider the one element that is in effect the 'trump card' of all

By: Elizabeth Cambridgel Business > Productivityl June 11, 2012 lViews: 184

These days there are any number of issues which can be problematic towards storing your documents. Are your files really as secure and safe as you think they are?

By: Stephen J Wrightl Business > Productivityl April 27, 2012 lViews: 281

You can achieve greater productivity by telling others about your goals, which tends to motivate you even further. But, we can take our productivity even further by getting an accountability partner.

By: Jay X Westingl Business > Productivityl April 25, 2012 lViews: 177

For most companies the development of projects is the backbone of the infrastructure. For a software firm, projects represent the creation of new products that represent the company's primary

By: Phil E Williamsl Business > Productivityl April 25, 2012 lViews: 174

If you just published a book and are waiting for it to fly off the book shelf, think again. No one even knows that your book exists. Whether a traditional publishing house publishes your book or you

By: Susan Pagel Writing & Speaking > Book Marketingl June 08, 2012 lViews: 138

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus