Process design made simple - A human-centered approach to building better processes

Process design is often a daunting prospect. However, by applying tried and tested, human-centric methods we can drastically simplify and ultimately create better processes and efficiency.

Design sprints for processes

Process design should be approached in the same way as any other experience - by starting and finishing with those who will be using it. A particularly useful way to do this is to start with a design sprint workshop, but not in the traditional sense.

Start by mapping the current process end-to-end, the idea here is to get really granular and understand in as much detail as possible the current process ensuring all stakeholder needs and perspectives are accounted for.

Once we’ve got the big picture, it’s time to open up the floor to understand where different pain points exist within the current process according to varying stakeholders.

In my consulting work, I typically set up process design sprints like this:

  1. Empathize with Stakeholders: Begin with an in-depth understanding of the users' needs and challenges. Conduct interviews and observations to gather insights from all stakeholders involved in the process.
  2. Define the Problem: Clearly articulate the problems identified from the stakeholders' feedback. Create a detailed problem statement that encompasses all the pain points and inefficiencies.
  3. Ideate Solutions: Bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to brainstorm potential solutions. Encourage creative thinking and consider a wide range of possibilities before narrowing down to the most feasible and impactful ideas.
  4. Prototype the Solution: Develop a prototype of the chosen solution. This could be a digital tool, a revised process flow, or any other tangible outcome that addresses the identified pain points.
  5. Test and Iterate: Implement the prototype on a small scale and gather feedback from users. Refine and adjust the solution based on real-world use and feedback, ensuring it effectively resolves the pain points.

Process “pain points” explained

A “pain point” is anything within a process that is repetitive, inefficient and/or frustrating. For example, when I was consulting for a garment quality assurance company, when the “during production inspection” (DUPRO) was done, a paper-based form was used then taken to another department to re-inspect and fill out the same information in a different paper-based form. The paper-based form was prone to error and duplicating information is inefficient, so this was flagged as a significant pain-pain by the DUPRO team and set the premise for what eventually became an advanced, in-house tablet application for the client.

Final words

In conclusion, process design, when approached with a human-centric mindset and structured methodologies like design sprints, can lead to significant improvements in efficiency and user satisfaction. Embrace these strategies to transform your processes and drive continuous improvement in your organization.

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