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Best Practice on conducting Business Process & Systems Workshops

NOVEMBER 13, 2013 LEAVE A COMMENT

One of the foundational ramp up activity in a business transformation project is planning, organizing, and conducting the Business Process Workshops.
This is a highly anticipated activity and sets the tone for all the down stream activities, and thus getting these workshops successfully conducted is
paramount. Throughout my consulting career, I have been on the forefront of this activity and have seen myself conducting some really lousy
workshops and then matured or honed my skill to conduct quite a few effective one’s. In this topic, I am attempting to outline the effective strategies in
order to have a successful workshop. If your existing approach is giving you great results and feedback from clients, then continue to do so. There is no
need to change, but if you are looking for ideas to better your approach, or you are new to this discipline then the framework outlined below will give
you great tips and best practices.
What makes a workshop successful? In my view, the answer is, proper preparation! The preparation piece that goes into a workshop is equally
important if not more, than conducting one.
Preparation prior to the workshop
Identify the process areas that form the basis of your workshops – Aligning with the Statement of Work (SOW) the first thing to go to work

on is scoping out the process areas. This is a straightforward task, and I believe is the primary responsibility of a Lead Functional Consultant/Team
Lead to put this together. Using a proven, industry accepted Process Classification Framework will aid in identifying the process areas. I will share
an Industry proven PCF that I use for all our engagements. The biggest advantage of leveraging a PCF is that it eliminates ambiguity. I will explain
in the section below how the ambiguity is eliminated. Shown below is an example of a PCF that lists the level3, level4, and level 5 items.

Identify the client’s Business Process Leads that have the necessary subject matter expertise as well as organizational authority to approve

the workshop outcomes. Their role in this activity is to review & align with you on the process areas that would be covered during the workshops,
help identify additional resources from their organizations to participate as needed, and clear their calendars during these workshops to maximize
the agenda of these workshops. It is very important to let them know what is expected from them during such meetings, as they are always hard
pressed for time. But that should not deter you from putting forth assertively what is expected from them in order to have a successful workshop. I
have used specific language that gets their attention. The words that work are ‘We would like your inputs in understanding your vision for your
process area, so that we can design a system that is scalable for future’. This works better as opposed to asking ‘We would like your inputs in
understanding your current process and bottlenecks’ Reason being, a.) they are not always close to the tactical issues on hand , and b.) someone
else from their organization is dealing with those. Above all, be very clear that you would be looking to them as wet ink signatory for their process
area. There’s no better word than ‘wet ink signature’ to increase the sense or urgency on your meeting!
For global organizations, it is recommended that you ask for participation from all key geographies for your workshops. It may not be

possible for everyone to attend in person, but their attendance in the meeting is critical. So explore other options like Webex or Online meetings.
Their input is critical to capture localization specific requirements.
Prepare detailed agenda’s for each workshop, and coordinate with your client counterpart to send these out ahead of time to the meeting

participants. It is a good idea to put these these sessions on participants calendar’s atleast two or three weeks in advance. An agenda should
include the break down of the session, the facilitator name, the scribe for the meeting, and timing for each topic within that process area. Also, it is
good idea to indicate the break time. Later during the workshop, you can clarify the meeting ground rules.
Preparation for the workshop
Develop detailed content for each process area for each workshop. I highly recommend spending a lot of time in developing, reviewing and

rehearsing your content to facilitate the workshop. In my opinion a successful workshop template should include the following components:

A level 3 Process Flow Diagram

Leading Practices for the level 3 process

Policy considerations for the level 3 process

Data requirements for the level 3 process

Business Scenarios for the level 3 process

Use Cases for the level 3 process

their prevalent organizational culture and their frustrations. I had mentioned about using a Level 3 process  flow diagram to initiate the conversations. and use that to facilitate the workshop. you have just lost out of an important aspect of their transformation project. If this is done correctly. its definition and verbiage cannot be altered. Here are a couple of recommendations on how to approach this conversation. but one of the lessons learned was that the process flows end up being very system oriented but miss out all the aspects of overall process integration be it. and use your content to engage a conversation about the process area. vendor communications or integration with other 3rd party systems. Advise them that the Level 3 process flow diagram.  Follow the agenda.  In some cases. Shown below is an example of an RTM. My aha moment in my career was when I realized that no matter how slick or elegant of design I put forth.e. the key stakeholders are new to the Organization. Assuming that you are using an industry accepted PCF. and taking in cues about the business process leads working relationships with each other. slow down and show them an example of what a requirement means. but be sensitive to client culture and their priorities and hence avoid language that suggests enforcing these ground rules. you want to come out of this meeting with tangible system requirements. I have seen at least on couple of occasions. Remember these are guidelines. ask open ended questions and engage them. but I would encourage involvement of one key Applications Lead who has end to end understanding of their current system. but within these level 3 processes. manual hand-offs. This requires effective facilitation skills! I have found that using a Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) template to capture the requirements against the level 3 process is an organized way to document requirements. I have learned that more I speak the less effective and engaging the session turns out to be. An experienced consultant is always listening actively. Earlier in the topic. process to a system task as shown below. one can develop their own level 4 processes and if required drill down to the level 5 processes. Lacking details in the process flow can cause ramifications such as ineffective training down the line. let your participants know that the rationale for starting at Level 3 is because that is the industry standard definition of that level 3 process within that process hierarchy. They rely on their Business Analysts or Coordinators to provide these details.  Let the participants know that you will be documenting their requirements during the session. This removes the ambiguity about that should a level 3 process be called and allows freedom to capture client specific level 4 & 5 sub processes. This is a valid risk and depending on the client. If I were to go back and re do some of my process workshops. So as a best practice. they are saying that their involvement or input is not considered as critical to this process.Reporting Requirements for the level 3 process    Keep a glossary of the definitions or terms used in the content to help eliminate the misunderstandings of concepts or jargon used Package the above content in a slide deck or client approved template. Your goal in this meeting is not to appear the most smartest but appear the most interested!You can always interject and ask clarifying questions but not to the detriment of the ongoing conversation. . and as a follow up take their help in classifying them as either a business process or system or policy or change management requirement. you will be able to get a clear top-down traceability i. and hence do not have the full visibility to all the moving parts of a process. and that is to gauge their culture be it inhibiting or progressive. The general tendency is to keep it high level. it does not stand a chance unless it meshes with the culture of the Organization. where a sound and forward looking system design did not take shape or form due to a limiting culture. so if you are unable to get your participants to clearly articulate their requirements. I would include more time and thought into capturing the process end to end Potential Risks  One of the concern that is raised by Applications team is that these workshops focus only on process and do not get down to the system level details. If you are going in a mind set of merely capturing requirements. How to facilitate the workshop  Include in your slides some ground rules of the meeting. or lack of clarity in SOP’s to name a couple.  Make every effort to capture the details on the process flows. From a systems perspective. So it is critical to give them that choice to involve key personnel specifically for specialized areas. In other words.

the usage of the PCF.   Level 5 Process flows are created.wordpress.What is the success criteria of a workshop These workshops typically extend out to several weeks.com/2013/11/13/best-practice-on-conducting-businessprocess-systems-workshops/ . Here are the key success criteria that I would emphasize on:  The participants have understood clearly the objective of these workshops. or System. and 5 processes/activities relate to each other. as needed Policy Changes actions items are noted for followup https://hcmtalk. and hence one should have a clear picture of the end results that you are trying to achieve via these. and how the Level3. or RICEW.  Detailed requirements related to Business Process. or Change Management are clearly and unambiguously documented.4.