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How To Boost Business Growth With Process Improvement
Project Management 10 min read

How To Boost Business Growth With Process Improvement

Every day is a chance to get better! With process improvement in your corner, you can grow your business and plant the seeds of success.

How To Simplify Your Business With Process Mapping
Project Management 10 min read

How To Simplify Your Business With Process Mapping

The best teachers in school were the ones who broke down the concepts using engaging visuals. Simplify your business with process mapping — discover more with Wrike.

Real Estate Vendor Spreadsheets: A How-to Guide
Project Management 10 min read

Real Estate Vendor Spreadsheets: A How-to Guide

A real estate vendor spreadsheet helps property owners, agents, and managers to organize their work and assets. Learn more about using this tool with Wrike.

Proof of Concept: Definition, Importance, and Examples
Project Management 10 min read

Proof of Concept: Definition, Importance, and Examples

Explore the significance of a proof of concept, its definition, and real-life examples. Learn how this crucial process validates ideas and drives innovation.

How to Choose the Right Knowledge Management System for Your Team
Project Management 10 min read

How to Choose the Right Knowledge Management System for Your Team

Considering investing in a knowledge management system? Learn what knowledge management systems are and how you can use them effectively in your company.

How to Define Processes for Your Team (and Actually Get Things Done)
Leadership 10 min read

How to Define Processes for Your Team (and Actually Get Things Done)

Here’s the thing about your processes: they shouldn't be "set and forget.” You need to be consistently evaluating them to identify what’s not working, and then use that information to build more ideal systems for your team.

How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)
Project Management 10 min read

How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)

A business plan is a straightforward document. In it, you’ll include market research, your overall goals for the business, and your strategies for achieving those goals.  But what is a business case and why do you need one if a business plan outlines everything else? A business case takes a closer look at a specific problem and how you can solve it. Think of a business case as the reason you create a project you’re going to manage in the first place.  The article provides a step-by-step guide on how to write a successful business case, including a checklist for identifying problems, researching solutions, and presenting to stakeholders. As a bonus, we’ll show you how to use Wrike to manage your product business cases with a requirements management template or implement them with a project scheduling template. What is a business case? A business case is a project you’ll assemble for identifying, addressing, and solving a specific business problem.  The key to a business case is the change it creates in your business. Developing a business case starts with identifying a problem that needs a permanent solution. Without that lasting change, a business case is only an observation about what’s going wrong. A complete business case addresses how a company can alter its strategy to fix that problem. Front-to-back, a business case is a complete story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It typically looks like this: Beginning: Someone identifies a problem within the business and presents the business case to the key decision-makers. Middle: With the project go-ahead, the company launches an internal team to address the business case and deliver results. End: The team delivers a presentation on the changes made and their long-term effects. In short, a business case is the story of a problem that needs solving.   Examples of business cases The problem for many companies is that they can turn a blind eye to challenges that are right in front of their faces. This is even the case when the company has a compelling product to sell. Consider the example of Febreze. In the mid-1990s, a researcher at Procter & Gamble was working with hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin. His wife noticed that his clothes no longer smelled like cigarettes, which was a frequent complaint. P&G had something of a miracle product on its hands. However, their approach was wrong. They initially marketed Febreze as a way to eliminate embarrassing smells. Predictably, the product flopped.  But P&G stuck at it. They had a potential business case on their hands: a highly marketable product proved difficult to market. What was going wrong? Working on the business case from beginning to end provided the answer. After some focus group testing, P&G found out that few consumers recognized the nasty odors they were used to. Instead, they learned to use a different business case for Febreze: it was a cleaning product now, a way to make the house smell nice when the floors are vacuumed and the counters are wiped clean. They gave it its own pleasant smell and fashioned it into a cleaning product. And because it worked so well, so did the campaign.  That’s an example of a business case overall. But let’s get specific: developing a business case is easier when you have a template to look at. Let’s build an example using a made-up company, ABC Widgets, and a hypothetical business case. Let’s call our business case example “Operation Super Widgets”: Business Case: ABC Widgets Section 1: Summary Briefly describe the problem and the opportunities.  ABC Widgets’ latest widget, the Super Widget, is suffering from supply issues, requiring higher shipping costs to procure the necessary resources, and eating into profits. We need to switch to a new supplier to restore the viability of the Super Widget. Section 2: Project Scope This section should include the following: Financial appraisal of the situation. Super Widgets are now 20% more expensive to produce than in the year prior, resulting in -1% profits with each Super Widget sold. Business objectives. To get revenues back up, we need to restore profit margins on Cost Per Unit Sold for every Super Widget back to 2020 levels. Benefits/limitations. Restoring Cost Per Unit Sold will restore 5% of sagging revenues. However, we are limited to three choices for new Super Widget suppliers. Scope and impact. We will need to involve supply chain managers and Super Widget project management teams, which may temporarily reduce the number of widgets we’re able to produce, potentially resulting in $25,000 in lost revenue. Plan. Project Management Teams A and B will take the next two weeks to get quotes from suppliers and select one while integrating an immediate plan to bring in new Super Widget parts for manufacturing within four weeks. Organization. Team Member Sarah will take the lead on Operation Super Widget Profit. Both teams will report to Sarah. This is a bare-bones example of what a business case might look like, but it does hit on the key points: what’s the problem, how can you fix it, what’s the plan to fix it, and what will happen if you succeed? How do you write and develop a business case? When writing your own business case, the above example is a good guide to follow as you get started with the basics.  But, once you’re more familiar with the nuts and bolts, it’s also worth being prepared for some potential roadblocks you could face along the way.  Challenges of writing a good business case Why don’t more companies create a business case? It might come down to a lack of good communication. Many people don’t even know how to write a business case, let alone present one. “The idea may be great, but if it’s not communicated well, it won’t get any traction,” said Nancy Duarte, communication and author who wrote The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. The key challenge, notes Duarte, is taking abstract business concepts (like lagging numbers) and turning them into an immediately recognizable problem. After all, if a company already had perfect awareness that it was making a mistake, it likely would find a way to stop the error in its tracks.  A business case is challenging because it usually means you’ll have to persuade someone that change is needed. And change can be difficult. In a thriving business, it’s especially problematic because it’s easy to point to the bottom line and say that whatever the company is doing is already working. How do you present a business case? The tips and examples above give you some nice remedies for creating a business case without the typical problems. But you’ll still want to present a business case with the straightforward proposals and numbers you’d associate with any new project.  Essentially, it all comes down to how well your business case can persuade the decision-makers. That’s why you shouldn’t just build a case off of raw numbers. The bottom line might be a compelling argument, but it’s not always what “clicks.”  If you’re presenting a business case, you’re a salesperson. And not every sale is a matter of precise logic. It’s also about emotion—the story of why something’s gone wrong and what needs doing if you’re going to overcome it.  The art of a good business case is the art of persuasion. Keep these specific points in mind as you craft one of your own: Point to an example of a bad business case and liken it to the present case. No one likes the idea of watching themselves walk into a mistake. Presenting an example of a business that made the same mistake your company is making and then translating it into the present moment is a compelling way to craft a business case that makes ears perk up. Build a narrative. Nancy Duarte pointed out that in one business case, a client convinced a CEO to follow through with a project by using simple illustrations. It’s not that the idea of adding illustrations to the business case was so great. It’s that the illustrations were able to tell a compelling story about why the case needed to go through. Distill the idea into an elevator pitch. Try this exercise: get your business case down to one sentence. If you can’t explain it any more simply than that, your business case might not be as memorable as it needs to be to sway decision-makers. Use analogies to drive the point home. Let’s say you discovered a problem in a growing business. Overall, revenues are good — but you’ve noticed an associated cost that has the potential to explode in the future and tank the business. But it’s not compelling to use dollars and cents when the business is doing so well. Instead, consider introducing the business case with a simple analogy: “Without repair, every leaky boat eventually sinks.” You now have their attention. Use the numbers to drive the point home, but not to make the point. If you’re presenting a business case to decision-makers, remember that it’s not only the logic of your argument that will convince people — it’s how persuasive you can be. Business case checklist Before you can check “learn how to write a business case” off your list, you have to know the essentials. Make sure you include the following elements in your business case checklist (and, of course, your business case itself): Reasons. This should be the most compelling part of your business case. You can tell a story here. And the most compelling stories start with a loss or a complication of some sort. What is the threat to the business that needs remedy? What are the reasons for moving forward? Potential courses of action. It’s not a complete story until we know the next chapter. A business case isn’t just about the problem — it’s about rectifying a problem through the solution. Recommend a few specific courses of action to help spur discussion about what to do next. Risks and benefits. Not every solution is going to be perfectly clean. There are going to be solutions with downsides. There are going to be costs along with the benefits. Make sure to include each of these to give a clear and complete picture. This is the time to manage expectations — but also the time to inspire action. Cost. What’s it going to cost to complete the project? The people making the decisions need to know the bottom line figure to assess which business cases to prioritize. Timeline. A good project isn’t only measured in dollars but in days, weeks, and months. What is the expected timeline for the business case? How quickly can the problem meet its solution?  With every business case, specificity is key. A vague timeline won’t help — a timeline with specific weekly milestones looks more achievable. To make your business case more compelling, always look for the specific details that tie your story together. Business case template A business case template is a document that outlines the key elements of a business case in a structured format. By using a standardized template, companies can ensure that all relevant information is captured and shared in a clear and consistent manner. Depending on the size of your business and the scope of your project, your business case template can be as detailed or as simple as you like. For a smaller project, you can use a one-pager to get started, detailing the main points of your project, which include: Executive summary: An overview of your project, its goals, and the benefits of completing it for your business Team and stakeholders: A list of the relevant people involved in your project, and their contact information SWOT analysis: An analysis of how your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats weigh up against your competitors Risk analysis: An overview of the kind of risks that are involved with your project and how you may avoid them Budget and financial plan: Details of your budget and where you may secure financing for your project Project plan: A schedule of how you plan to implement your project and what tasks are involved Let's see what that might look like. Executive summary   Team and stakeholders   SWOT analysis   Risk analysis   Budget   Project plan   How to write a business case with Wrike Wrike’s project management software can step in and turn a business case from the seedling of an idea to a full-fledged initiative.  The requirements management pre-built template can help you document and track project requirements in a structured manner. The template includes sections for capturing stakeholder requirements and business cases, as well as any constraints that may affect the project’s success. By using this template, you can ensure that all necessary requirements are identified and that potential issues are addressed early in the project planning process. If you want to move from the business case description to the actual implementation faster, consider using the project scheduling template. This template can help you create a detailed project timeline with milestones, identify task dependencies, and assign resources. By utilizing this template, you can ensure that the project is realistically achievable and meets all business needs, giving stakeholders confidence in the project’s success.

The Ultimate Guide To Business Process Management (BPM) Software
Project Management 7 min read

The Ultimate Guide To Business Process Management (BPM) Software

Leverage the versatility and insights of business process management software. Identify inefficient or unreliable processes and harness the power of automation.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Strategic Annual Plan
Collaboration 10 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Strategic Annual Plan

The first step to achieving goals is to come up with an annual plan. A strategic annual plan makes it easier for managers, team leaders, and company owners to execute their vision for growth. Not only does creating an annual plan give you time to reflect on past accomplishments, but it’s also a great way to make ideas actionable. Keep reading to learn more about what annual planning is and how you can create one that has a significant impact on your organization.  What is an annual plan? An annual business plan is a set of goals and milestones that guide a company's operations for the year ahead. It helps guide employees and investors in the right direction. For many people, this year's new year begins with a review of their previous year. They then set goals and make plans for the coming year. Annual planning is a combination of two other important elements: a business plan and an annual plan.  A business plan is a document that a company or organization uses to set goals and improve performance. It's similar to a belt-tightening exercise. An annual plan is a strategy that a company uses to set goals and expectations for the coming year. It helps employees visualize where they are headed and how they can get there. The annual plan also sets out a company's long-term goals and helps guide how it will reach these targets. An annual business plan helps workers set goals and holds them accountable for achieving those goals for the upcoming 12 months. Then, there’s strategic planning. A strategic planning process helps an organization identify its mission, vision, and strategic goals. The strategic plan combined with the annual business plan are two key components of a successful strategy. The former provides a framework for the company's goals and intentions, while the latter provides the necessary tools and processes to execute those goals. Overview of a strategic annual plan Here is what is typically included in a strategic annual plan:  Analysis of past performance. Reviewing your goals can help you identify areas where you can improve and become more productive. Budget estimations. Financial projections are often included in budget planning. They help you plan for the coming year and identify the right course of action for your projects. A clear vision statement. Expectations must be clearly stated, as well as responsibilities and clear OKRs. Having these elements in place can help keep teams on track and motivated. SMART goals. Set specific, measurable goals and deadlines for your company. This will help you measure how far you've come in terms of meeting the key results. Buffer room. A well-written annual plan should include space for emergencies as well. Having a contingency plan can help avoid unexpected expenses. In a nutshell: the annual plan is a strategy used to plan and execute the organization's goals and objectives. It is usually composed of three phases which are strategy, projects, and timing. The importance of an annual plan Annual planning helps define what's important to achieving goals and driving performance. An annual plan also helps keep the workforce united and can be used to motivate and retain employees. A well-written annual plan can help you set the direction for your company while providing the team with a sense of direction. Examples of annual strategic planning Here are some ideas to get you started with your own strategic annual plan:  1. Coca Cola HBC 2020 Integrated Annual Plan  Coca-Cola's 246-page report details all aspects of their business. They start by celebrating their wins with statistics. They also include photos of actual customers and partners. Their CEO writes a letter to their stakeholders sharing their biggest accomplishments over the past year.  Then they go through their vision. Throughout the strategy, you can see that they are using the pillar method for goal planning. Key areas of focus include leveraging existing business, continuing to win the beverage marketplace, making competitive investments, focusing on employee growth, and expanding their licensing. The overall report is designed well and is reminiscent of a well-crafted white paper. Because the CEO's letter was addressed specifically to stakeholders, we know that this is a tool for increasing investment as well as project planning. Because of this, a lot of the content within it answers the question, “why should I invest in you?” Throughout the rest of the annual plan, each pillar gets its own section. At the top of each section, there is a list of accomplishments from the past year and priorities for the coming year. They also summarize risks, stakeholders, and KPIs. This makes the packet easy to skim but also easy to remember. 2. pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) PepsiCo recently announced that their new 2022 initiative will revolve around “the planet and people.” While this is a long-term process for the brand, the launch will mark the core of their strategic annual plan for the foreseeable future. Their keywords include positivity (hence the “+”), sustainability, and “a fundamental transformation of what we do and how we do it.”  On their dedicated landing page, readers can dig deeper into their annual plan. Also well designed, this presentation shows what the future looks like for PepsiCo through refreshed branding and imagery. Symbols such as smiling farmers and healthy, green fields drive the message home.  To achieve these new goals, the company will focus on supply chains, inspiring consumers, and driving sustainable change among all its product lines.  They link several documents throughout the report, including a comprehensive list of goals which is a great example for your own annual plan template inspiration. This three-page chart names pillars on the left-hand side and targets or actions with due dates on the right.  If their goals have numerical metrics, they include data from past years, along with key benchmarks they hope to reach by the end of the year or in the future. Otherwise, their goals are measured in actions.  For example, as part of their sustainability pillar, they plan to “develop and deploy disruptive sustainable packaging materials and new models for convenient foods and beverages.” This task is specific and clear, despite the fact that it’s not as quantifiable as some of their other goals.  3. Nestlé Global’s Annual Report  Their annual plan is not public but they have shared an annual report on past wins from 2020. In addition to a financial review, Nestlé also shares a new strategy. Starting with important facts and figures the company highlights statistics from organic sales growth and more. They also visualize data about which types of products are selling most and where in the world the company has grown over the past year. As Coca-Cola did, Nestlé also includes a letter to shareholders. They discuss ways in which they plan to grow in the coming year. This includes what product areas they will invest more in and where they will pause or halt efforts. They also emphasize a new product area which will be the focus moving forward in the short term. In this section, Nestlé touches on long-term strategies and how these short-term goals will affect them.  In general, their annual report focuses on the word innovation. It mostly has to do with developing new products and revamping old ones. Like PepsiCo, they are using sustainability as a pillar as well as e-commerce. The report goes on to elaborate on each strategy individually. Nestlé lists action steps and provides clear evidence as to why each is important. They also highlight statistics for growth in key areas and name even bigger numbers for where they hope to be in a year.  Throughout the report, they include images from ad campaigns that demonstrate the change they wish to continue implementing as part of their marketing plan. Again, branding imagery makes a big difference when creating your own strategic annual plan. It sets the tone for what's written on the page and can help visual learners better understand what you're going for at a glance.  Although Nestle's strategic annual plan is designed more like a white paper than a chart, this layout is the most magazine-like by far. It serves as a great example of how you can organize ideas on the page in a way that is interesting and attention-grabbing. One of the most notable aspects of their annual plan is the Materiality Matrix. They use this chart to visualize key areas of interest and prioritize them according to stakeholder values. Within each box, they’ve listed bullet points of business areas this value will impact. It’s a great method for summarizing goals that cover a wide variety of departments and business engagements.  Understanding strategic planning best practices Everyone has their own way of thinking about annual plans. Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, the following strategic planning best practices will help you get there:  1. Use SMART goals A variety of SMART goals are commonly used to help guide and motivate people. They help set realistic benchmarks and are designed to help teams achieve success. It will also help you plan for the ups and downs of your business. To reach your goals, divide them up into smaller goals and set specific deadlines. These goals will help you measure how successful you are at reaching them. 2. Include contingencies For example, having an emergency financial reservoir is a good idea to prevent a potential financial disaster. It can help your company navigate slower seasons while still sticking to your annual plan.  3. Build in flexibility  Even minor shifts in external factors can significantly impact on how effective you are at creating and implementing your strategic plan. Never forget that, while we are creating our annual plans in a vacuum, the world will undoubtedly go through more changes this coming year. Even though we can’t predict the future, we can make our plans foolproof by being flexible now.  What is an annual plan template? An annual plan template is a document or tool that can be utilized repeatedly to outline the various stages involved in creating an annual plan. Its purpose is to provide a clear understanding of the annual planning process by specifying the actions to be taken and the timeline to follow in order to develop an effective business plan. By utilizing the annual planning template, individuals or organizations can ensure that they have a systematic approach to reaching specific goals, and can enhance the quality of their business plans. Using Wrike to assist with an annual plan template Wrike’s project management software can help you keep track of all your company-related information in one place. It can also streamline your work and help you stay on track. It can also help you keep track of your annual plans and develop a strong strategy. Start by using last year as a reference. By understanding the issues that affected the previous year, a company can improve its performance in the following year. Draw reports of time spent per project and see where your team went over or underestimated. Then look at which tasks tend to drain resources the most. Determine whether or not the ROI is worth it moving forward.  Next, set realistic goals. Reflect on last year's statistics from Wrike Reports and put together a plan with a realistic metric for improvement.  After, break down big plans into individual steps. Start by focusing on the business goals of the company then outline your key objectives that align with those. Make sure that everyone knows who is responsible for executing and approving each task.  Draft a Gantt chart that includes each step broken down into relevant tasks. Remember to add deadlines to every action to keep teammates accountable and keep to realistic deadlines. Then, delegate tasks according to strengths and weaknesses. Use project reporting and individual job performance to assess team members. You may find that those with specialized talent are being tasked with unskilled work when they could help solve major problems elsewhere.  Don’t forget to involve the whole team. Start early, plan ahead, and keep everyone involved in the process. Doing so will make it easier to overcome obstacles once the projects are underway.  Additionally, ask them for direct feedback on your ideas for the next year. You will learn from the front line what obstacles they may be facing that will affect the timeline.  Another bonus of getting your team involved is that it creates more transparency in the workplace. Using Wrike as a part of the process is not only helpful, but the team also keeps learning how to use the system more efficiently as they go.  Having a work management platform that enables you to plan and execute annual plans is a good idea. Plus, it's also a good idea to use tools that allow you to collaborate and manage complex processes. Create an effective annual plan today with Wrike’s free trial. 

Operational Excellence: A Guide with Principles and Examples
Leadership 7 min read

Operational Excellence: A Guide with Principles and Examples

Good is no longer good enough. To survive in the on-demand economy, companies and leaders must perform at an entirely new level of efficiency.

What is a SIPOC Diagram & How is It Used?
Project Management 10 min read

What is a SIPOC Diagram & How is It Used?

At first, creating a new business process seems simple. But even if you’ve identified a complete, linear path from your suppliers to your customers, you may start to notice complications.  Wrangling a list of departments that need to get involved. Figuring out how to transfer a product from one department to another. Finding a way to simply codify it all so you don’t end up with 40 versions of the same basic business process document. To solve the problem of complexity, many companies turn to the SIPOC diagram. Working from a SIPOC template helps create a “blueprint” for any new business process you want to create. Done right, you’ll gain a clear understanding of what needs to happen to launch a new product or service, down to the smallest details.  But it won’t work until you know how to mold that SIPOC diagram into a rock-solid plan. What does SIPOC stand for? SIPOC stands for Supplies, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, and Customers. It refers to an A-to-Z approach to the entire business process. This is useful for high-level management because it helps you document any new business process from a bird’s-eye view. You might have also heard COPIS, which is the entire process in reverse. Why start with “Customer” at the beginning? Some companies want to emphasize the customer’s experience and reverse-engineer their business process around that. For others, SIPOC’s chronological order makes more sense. Without supplies and inputs, there are no outputs and customer-facing products or services. Think of SIPOC as an essential way to distill the business process down to its core steps, from A to Z. What is a SIPOC diagram? A SIPOC diagram is a workflow chart that illustrates every stage of your SIPOC. This brings the SIPOC meaning in your business from an abstract acronym into a visualization of workflow. According to some statistics, visualization like this can boost performance by as much as 89%. In other words, SIPOC diagrams help you see a new business process before you implement it.  A SIPOC process can be as comprehensive or as simple as you like. But at the very least, it will need to include a component part of each of the following: Supplies: What are the tools, products, services, or raw materials that need to be a part of the business process to create an end result for your customer? List them all here. Inputs: Are there data inputs that need to go into the process at this stage? What do you need to add or modify to the existing supplies? Processes: Here’s where you’ll list the essential functions of your business as you carry out the new directive. What processes can be automated? Which ones will be manual? Will you have to hire new workers to handle the processes and inputs? Answer those questions here. Outputs: This is where you should think about maintaining standards, as well as installing processes for quality control. Any testing you do with your products/services before they go to market will take place here. Customers: This stage doesn’t simply refer to the point of purchase. Think about the entire customer experience. In fact, you might even want to consider doing a few COPIS exercises just to get a sense of what you want the end result to look like before you build the process around it. SIPOC diagram example We’ve put together a step-by-step illustration of a SIPOC diagram below: Keep in mind that a SIPOC can be as big or as small as you need it. This is just a high-level diagram dividing the key components into five steps. But under every step, you can list all sorts of essential variables to create the comprehensive results you’re looking for. If that’s too abstract, let’s take a simple but specific example. Let’s say your business process is going to the grocery store. Here’s what that could look like:   Supplies: Fully stocked grocery store, address of the grocery store, car to drive you there, money to purchase groceries. Inputs: List of ingredients. Scheduling a time to visit the store. Process: Purchase groceries, return home, put groceries away. Outputs: List of recipes. Food preparation. Customers: Happy, well-fed family. It might not translate to something as complex as a 500-employee business. But a trip to the grocery store helps solidify exactly what a SIPOC diagram is: a blueprint for getting things done.  What are the benefits of SIPOC diagrams? Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that plans are worthless, but planning is essential. The idea? You may need to adapt your plans when the rubber meets the road, but the act of preparing plans is what prepares you to handle any obstacles. The SIPOC diagram forces your business to do the essential work of planning. By creating a SIPOC diagram, you see the entire workflow from beginning to end. Along the way, you can fish out blind spots, brainstorm new ideas, and reduce red tape that isn’t necessary to create the end results you want. But the act of sitting down and planning isn’t the only benefit of SIPOC diagrams. Here are a few more to consider: Cost savings: There’s a reason you don’t build a house until you have blueprints in place. When you make a mistake in the blueprints, you can erase them and not lose thousands of dollars in labor and costs. Think of SIPOC as your blueprint for business processes and you’ll understand why you want such a clear picture of a business process before you begin. You’ll identify many of the potential bugs before they have the potential to cost you serious money. Beginning the process: With SIPOC diagrams, you’re already beginning the planning stages of developing your business. You’re already brainstorming suppliers, considering which departments need input, and thinking about the key people who will be part of the process. When you’ve effectively built out a SIPOC diagram, your end result will be a blueprint that’s ready for feedback and adjustment. Making strategic decisions: Along the way, a SIPOC forces you to see business processes as a result of cause and effect. Some data suggests it helps you identify patterns as well. This puts you in the position of making strategic decisions at the outset. How will the supplies you acquire affect which customer segments you target? Will you need to hire people to provide key inputs that you don’t already have at your company? What challenges should I be aware of with SIPOC analysis? A SIPOC analysis is low-cost and high-benefit — it only takes advanced planning. But it doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges along the way. One key challenge: untangling knots. With a SIPOC diagram, you have to answer cause-and-effect questions. And sometimes, it can be difficult to handle these without the ability to experiment in action and see which solutions work best. The temptation is to skip the SIPOC analysis and get straight to taking action, but this can lead to its own problems. The best way is to complete the SIPOC as much as possible. You might also refer to a Gantt chart to help supplement this issue. Another key challenge is communication. You have to keep key decision-makers in the loop with SIPOC diagrams, and if you make business process decisions without their input, it can not only introduce complications but friction. Visualizing data has a way of making communication effective — after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Harvard Business Review refers to data visualizing as “visualizations that really work.” How is SIPOC used in project management? You’re probably already getting a grasp of how a SIPOC diagram can help make project management more streamlined, efficient, and stress-free. But, there are a few more things to keep in mind to reap the benefits for your projects. Use specifics: Don’t say, “we will need enough graphite to put in our pencils.” Get specific about how much graphite you need if you’re building pencils. A good template for handling the Supplies and Inputs variables is to use formulaic statements. For example: “We will build X-quantity of Y-material into Z-units before moving to the next stage of the process.” Don’t leave the work of estimating quantities to the future. That’s what SIPOC is here for: to create your blueprint. Document the types of customers you have and what they need: Project management without an emphasis on the customers’ experience is ultimately an internal-facing process. But it’s not completely SIPOC unless you include customer considerations. Make sure you know who your target customer is. What are their concerns? What problems are you solving? Knowing these questions and feeding them into the rest of the process will help you innovate in ways that wouldn’t be apparent if you were solely focused on the first four stages. Record your progress: Even if you don’t nail a SIPOC analysis on the first try, record your progress every time you and your team sit down to discuss the details. Remember to think of your SIPOC diagram as a blueprint. You wouldn’t get halfway through sketching the plans for a house and then say “we’ll remember this when we sit down again.” Document every step you’ve specified, including any key numbers and people you’ve identified as part of the new process. Gather feedback: Once you have a SIPOC ready to go, it’s time to involve any key decision-makers who might have a say, even if they’re not going to make key decisions in the process itself. Take a scientific approach. Your goal is to poke holes in the process and come up with solutions before implementation. Once you have a thoroughly vetted SIPOC diagram in hand, you’ve defined your new business process in full. This isn’t to say it will go perfectly smoothly when you launch. But when something does go wrong, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what needs to be done to get back on track. Rather than making your processes rigid, the end result of a SIPOC diagram is that you make yourself more flexible and adaptable. You’ll build a business that can adjust on the fly. You might throw out old plans once in a while. But if you approach it the right way, the simple process of planning can take you anywhere.

Auto-Assign Workflows to Increase Speed and Simplify Processes
News 3 min read

Auto-Assign Workflows to Increase Speed and Simplify Processes

Today, Wrike announces Auto-Assigned Workflows — a new feature to automatically assign work to team members when it's ready for them to start.