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Preparing for an Assessment

An assessment impacts several organizational functions. It may also impact some customers and suppliers, depending on its end-to-end scope. As a result, the assessment needs to be well organized for efficiency. It also needs to provide sufficient information to create actionable project charters. To initiate assessment activities, there will be a meeting with the organization’s leadership to understand strategic initiatives and operational goals so that they can be integrated into the assessment’s objectives. This ensures the assessment is aligned with the organization’s strategy and goals. There may also be some training to familiarize leadership with the assessment methods. The goal is to present a plan, obtain feedback to finalize the assessment planning and create a communication package to begin planning with the locations that will be part of the assessment.

Using information from the leadership team helps focus the up-front analysis of current financial and operational reports to identify performance issues that need solutions. The types of reports vary based on the assessment’s scope, including the locations where the assessment will be conducted. The various financial reports discussed in Chapter 7 are evaluated to identify where the assessment team should initially focus the work. Operational reports are also used to focus the work. The plan is updated to include the gathering of process information to verify the reporting accuracy and to determine the best approaches for creating project charters and their scope. Once at the location to be assessed, a second meeting is held with the local leadership team. During this meeting, the assessment team will describe the assessment plan, methodology, and initial areas of focus for the assessment and obtain feedback relevant for that location’s assessment. Once at a location, interviews will be held to obtain additional insight from employees in the proposed focus areas. The interviews will start discussions for where to focus value flow mapping workshops.

The assessment for the locations is added to the plan once focus areas are known for each site. Teams will be deployed based on the expected work and benefits for each site. Site planning includes up-front gathering of local contacts, organizational charts, operational and financial reports, and other relevant information. The first assessment deliverable will be to interview the local management teams and successively interview members of the process work teams based on opportunity. At the process- owner level, local teams will be formed to begin value flow mapping and data collection. These teams consist of people who do the process work and assessment facilitators. The deliverables from this work are project charters supported by financial, operational, and other supporting information for that work area.

Communication will also be initiated with the site leaders and their management teams. There may be training for the site management teams as well as for process owners. This will help them understand the assessment’s methods prior to deploying the assessment teams. Useful feedback for customizing the planned activities may be obtained from these initial discussions. Once on-site, the assessment team continues the discussions face to face, but with a focus on the site assessment plan.

The management meeting discusses how the site assessment will be conducted, what help may be needed, and the expected benefits and next steps for executing the projects. Specific tools and methods will also be discussed depending on the initiative. An important topic is the financial and operational performance gaps to be investigated. The critical-to strategic flow down also acts to ensure that the project charters are aligned and the assessment meets its goals. The strategic flow down concept introduced in Figure 7.7 is important to ensure that projects are incremental to leadership’s current plans or will help execute currently planned projects. It is important the assessment does not duplicate currently identified opportunities under active review and whose solution paths are already known. It is also important not to deploy the assessment teams to processes that may be divested or redesigned soon. This is particularly important for projects that will require capital expenditures and investment. Process owners may also need to be trained in the use of technical assessment tools and methods, or they may need just-in-time training to assist the assessment team. This is also called “project champion” training in Six Sigma initiatives or “Lean Leadership” training in Lean deployments. Once this plan is reviewed and updated, and any necessary training is completed with the site management team and process owners, the work to collect operational data begins.

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