Contact centers are process driven environments, yet frequently, documenting processes is one of those jobs that has to be done, no-one wants to do it and everyone has an opinion about it when someone else does it. It’s also a job that needs to be done slowly and carefully, but is usually requested at the last minute. So what is the fastest way to document a process at a fairly high level while retaining enough information to make it useful?
One approach is called the SIPOC chart. This is an acronym that translates into “Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer.” The basic principle is to create a chart with each of these five headings.
It’s best to start with the process itself, which can be expressed as a series of events in bullet points (a maximum of 10 for very high level overview). On the left hand side, we then complete the inputs column. This contains everything that the process requires to run. To the left of this column, we complete the suppliers column. This contains the names of the people and organizations that supply these inputs. On the right hand side of the process column, we fill in the outputs which the process produces. This should include not only the final product, but any documentation or data produced and also any by products. To the right of this, we have the customer column. here we fill in the names of the people and organizations that receive these products.
In one document, you will not only have a simplified account of the steps of the process itself, but you will have identified many of the drivers and products of the process and the people who affect and will be affected by the process.
This is a very high level approach. Engineers, analysts and computer programmers will need something that is a lot more detailed. In this case, the SIPOC chart would be a starting point to generate the questions and discussions needed to describe a process in more detail.
One mistake many people make in documenting processes is to mix what the boss would like to happen with what really happens. If you are planning to improve an existing process, it is essential that you document the process “as is”, talking to the people who are the closest to the process as it happens. Doing anything else is like treating a sick person in hospital without knowing what he is suffering from.
Any document is only as good as the information it contains, so consider your sources carefully, and you will write a more accurate and therefore more useful document.