Understanding the As-Is Process

Posted by on Oct 30, 2012 in Continuous Improvement, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Teams sometimes make the mistake of trying to make improvements without first fully understanding the existing process.  This an important first step because it allows the team to understand the variation and waste that exists in the as-is process and can help them understand their causes.  Even if a documented process doesn’t exist, there is still a “general view” of how the process operates.  It is only with this fundamental understanding that lasting improvement can be made.

There are several tools that can help define the as-is process.

  • SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) is a tool that identifies the suppliers, process inputs, process outputs, and customers of a process.  It is especially useful in cross-functional processes to identify all the suppliers, customers, inputs and outputs.  It can help teams identify gaps that may exist in inputs and outputs and what customers require.
  • Process maps provide an additional level of detail and allow a team to identify each process step, the outputs associated with each step, and the inputs required at each step.
  • Flowcharts are often used to highlight process complexities in the form of excessive decision points and branches that may contribute to delays and defects.

Sometimes these tools will be used in conjunction with one another to show different levels of detail.  It is important for the team to agree on the “general flow” and get a good understanding of the “pain points” in the process.  It is at these “pain points” that a deeper dive can be taken to understand the reasons for the problems.


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