There is a lot to be said for mapping out the processes before tinkering with them, because in that way a lot of incomplete routing, sometimes the one way and sometimes the other, wrongly used processes, and you name it, comes to light. Anyone who has ever experienced an ERP implementation knows many stories about this. The problem certainly arises when one has to deal with many different processes, which do work in practice but have never been formally described. Or of which the description is no longer up to date. In practice, writing out and updating process maps is often a monk’s work that is very easily postponed because – once again – it requires the cooperation of those key people who already have so much work….
Fortunately, there are two alternatives:
Start with what you have. The practice of TOC buffer management in productions and projects has shown that not all steps necessarily need to be fully described and known in order to get a manageable whole. It is often sufficient to know the start, the end and one important step in order to be able to start a follow-up. If this activity is still carried out by a critical resource, the control has an immediate effect on the proper functioning of the entire process! In this way, with little effort, you still get things under control and the way is cleared for further detailing. Here, too, the rule applies that too many details sometimes do nothing to improve steering; on the contrary, it can make the focus on the essentials disappear into a fog of unimportant things.
All right, but how do we know that a detail may or may not have important effects? Here, too, the answer is: adapted buffer management! Because this works like a permanent monitoring of the processes and the signals indicate where something is stalling and above all: how important the stalling is. This is a path of gradual change where every step already has an effect while minimising the limited time available to the key players.
Use the already available ERP data. We are currently experimenting with the automatic creation of process maps from the available data in the ERP. With this technique, the already known reality is visualised and process maps are quickly created which, although not yet perfect, form a good basis for building usable controls in a short time.