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Remote Process Workshops: How Does That Work?

Over the past 20 years people have learned to participate in process discovery workshops. Brown paper sessions and post-it notes, the involvement and physical presence was important for the ownership to be recognised. This feeling of ownership is especially important for paper-based companies. In production and warehousing companies people feel the ownership much easier as they physically work in and around the process every day.


The process workshop has always followed important guidelines; All roles of the process need to be present and participate, the roles need to do the process discovery (and not the consultants or managers), and you must always start with the ASIS situation in order to create the involvement and base understanding of the process.


Workshops if people cannot physically meet?

At Engage Process we have enabled digital process workshops for the past 12 years. Still in the same room but working with a specially designed process modeler and a large screen or projector. Although the method was met by some skepticism from process experts (green belts, black belts), the enthusiasm and in-depth involvement of each role (process workers that participate in the workshop) was convincing and proved that digital process workshops are possible and in fact even more effective. It is the features designed with the digital workshop in mind that negates any potential fallout of doing less face to face activities.


The next step: remote workshop instead of in a conference room?

While the digital process workshop has now proven itself, at least in the thousands of cases that our clients have demonstrated, this challenge goes one step further: What if the workshop participants are all working from home and do not physically meet?

First, they must have access to a PC/Laptop/iPad and good webinar software. During the current crisis, hundreds of millions of employees (and students, teachers, etc.) have learned that remote working is actually not that hard. One-to-one calls, team sessions, presentations etc. are all supported by the wonders of Teams, Zoom, Go-To Meeting, Webex and so on.


But an interactive workshop?

The answer is yes, as we, and many of our customers, have found out. The process discovery workshop puts demands on the process management software, the interactive tools, and continuous improvement.

It places tough demands on the process software used and it definitely must be designed with this purpose in mind. What does that mean?

  • It must be built on 1 screen only so the focus stays on the process and workshop.
  • The single work screen must be simple, which means hiding all possible distractions, task bars, pop-ups etc. which helps retain focus on processes.
  • Activities need to be recognizable, for example through icons. So, use a computer screen for computer work, a telephone, a meeting icon, a delay/waiting icon, a transport icon etc. The traditional shapes are too hard to understand in normal life, let alone in a remote workshop.
  • Capture lots of relevant information in process steps to enrich and clarify them, depending on the scope of the discussion, but details must be hidden as easily in order to keep the focus (which is much more difficult in on-line sessions).
  • Process mapping must be fully automatic. So, when adding choices, parallels, subprocesses, etc.- this needs to be done instantly as to not lose focus, time and involvement of remote participants.
  • The solution must offer different process views that can be called on straight away, which help boost participant understanding. For example, it has to show value streams as well swimlanes, which highlight anything from role changes to applications. The speed of change needs to support real-time usage in a workshop.
  • Automatic symbols, highlighted notations, warning etc. must be available to highlight issues and avoid a “boring” process map.


Interactive supporting tools

The interactive parts are essential. Like in a physical brainstorm session, the participants must be encouraged to participate. What is needed for that?

  • Give remote workers the tools to get directly involved in a brainstorm, such as a mobile phone app to send through their post-it notes for a brainstorm. Ask everyone which steps must be included in the process. They then submit one-by-one (like a post-it note session!) and see their input pop-up on the central webinar screen.
  • The workshop leader should have a separate sub-screen in the tool available to list any comments or tips that participants have. Preferably, this is linked to individual process steps to make the participants most involved in that important detail.


Driving Continuous Improvement

Process improvement is never a single workshop. The first workshop typically deals with the ASIS, followed by a TOBE workshop some days later.

It is crucial to publish the ASIS immediately after the workshop. This publication should be available to participants online, allowing them to review instantly when memory is fresh. Also, the publication must mirror the workshop’s output using the same format, so: single screen, intuitive icons, enriched process with hide/show feature, comments made by participants visible to enhance ownership.

Keep involvement going with a “feedback” or comments function inside the solution. Participants review the work that was done and instantly share their thoughts back to all participants.


The Engage Process Suite

Engage Process has developed a powerful SaaS process suite in the past 12 years. This Suite is based on our belief that all process workers should be able to participate in process workshop without any prior training to this purpose. Now the crisis forces us to work remote, we are happy to learn from our clients that the Suite fits the requirements for remote process workshops perfectly.

We're here to talk you through it- check out our remote working theme page.


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