VSJ – March 2009 – Work in Progress

For a variety of reasons, several long-standing Council members left us at the last AGM. We’ve been lucky enough to co-opt two energetic and enthusiastic members, Simon Reed and Ian Stockley, pending this year’s elections. Here, Ian introduces himself.

After attending an IAP Spring seminar a few years ago I had chance to chat with Mike Ryan our Director General about the IAP, and in general about the challenges and opportunities that the Institution has. I was fascinated to have joined such a diverse group of like-minded professionals and was eager to help the Council out with representing Business Analysts.

My expertise is in Process Analysis, BPR (business process re-engineering) and Change Management. I’m convinced I’ve found a good home to represent my industry skills and potentially many others with similar expertise. Those with similar Process Analysis and BPR skills provide a major opportunity for the IAP to develop during 2009.

A quick day in the life of…

Our work is with the people, teams and managers that deliver services to customers or end-users. When delivering a service there’s always a process perspective (and of course technology and people), and there’s always a way to continually improve whatever product or service is being delivered. Nothing is perfect and everything can be improved. Some products or services will be better than others but this really depends on the price you pay and what you expect to receive. For example, consider the continual improvement processes at Bentley for their cars or Rolex for their watches, or the processes and quality standards Rolls Royce use to manufacture jet engines. There’s little room for failure or rework at 40,000ft!

That doesn’t mean to say the continuous improvement processes at budget stores like Poundland, Netto or Aldi are not comparable – expect strong similarities – especially in how they manage supply and demand ensuring availability of numerous products in numerous locations UK-wide, cheaper than the majority of the mainstream supermarkets.

When people pay for service they have simple choices: a. they might buy again b. they might never buy again and/or c. they might be unhappy and complain.

From the three contexts above there’s always potential for continuous improvement especially in business processes. Investigative work is done to reveal and understand the root causes of business problems, which are noted and prioritised for attention. Problems that involve loss of revenue, loss of customers, repetitive faults and/or complaints, loss of market share, high operational costs due to waste and duplication stand out and would be earmarked for analysis.

More broadly, the reasons for process analysis, improvement and business change will usually involve organisational changes, operational changes, regulatory and legislative changes and/or changes due to market conditions and competitors.

Outcomes of process improvement projects are also broad, with some typical improvements being improved productivity-quality-efficiency-effectiveness, increased speed, a reduction in errors, reduced cycle time and reduced operating costs. All these improve customer service.

So it’s we business analysts that ask hundreds of question such as who does what, when, where and how? Using what systems and applications? What volumes and timings are there? Who is responsible and accountable? What are the process inputs, outputs and outcomes? We’re looking to determine problems compounded by process inefficiencies and seeing how to remove waste and processes that don’t add any value. The ultimate aims are to save money, make best use of resources and materials and ensure quality for customers.

Recently my work has involved helping organisations to standardise processes, teams and technology by implementing shared services. These have entailed large changes that led to generic processes singularly co-located in the UK. They’ve reduced costs and provided centrally managed teams and quality.

My passion for analysis started some 25 years ago in the Army when working for the Royal Signals. After my military training I embarked on technical training and somehow fell into signals intelligence and eavesdropping. This training required near-zero error working and detailed analysis sometimes to bit-stream level. I’ve also been responsible for life-saving decisions with actions and multiple agency responses being measured in minutes.

Since leaving the Army I’ve worked for Racal, Vodafone, HBS and Agilisys before starting my Business Improvement consultancy in 2006. Depending on client requirements new work is needed on a three to six month cycle or thereabouts. I widely use reference to the IAP on my company letterheads, CV and Web site.

Ian is always happy to help with questions, feedback or good ideas so you can drop him an e-mail at ian@performanceprocesses.co.uk or call him on 07747 118888.

[Interesting project or development? Let us know at eo@iap.org.uk!]

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