Business Performance Assessment Program – The Vertical Slice Assessment Approach

All company functions are constrained by limited resources. As such, it is impossible for an organization to self assess every activity it performs. Therefore, business performance assessments need to be executed in a way that identifies the significant improvement opportunities at the lowest possible cost. One such approach is to do a thorough end-to-end review of a few occurrences of high value process.[wcm_restrict plans=”47715, 25542, 25653″]

The vertical slice represents such an end-to-end process evaluation; covering all transactions and organizational transitions as a process is executed from initiation to planning, scheduling, execution, and final closure. Performing a detailed review of appropriately selected processes yields insights to the process bottlenecks, organization misalignments, supporting system inadequacies, and personnel skill gaps that once improved offer the organization a significant return on investment.

Selecting Processes for Vertical Slice Assessment

When using the vertical slice assessment method, it is important to select high value processes to be evaluated. These processes are not limited to those that yield high revenue generation for the company but can also include those representing a significant cost to execute. Criteria to consider when selecting processes for vertical slice assessment include but are not limited to:

  • cost of executing the end-to-end process
  • impact to bottom line revenues of the end-to-end process
  • risk associated with the end-to-end process and the cost incurred should an error be made
  • frequency of process execution and the aggregate cost of execution (e.g. process that is inexpensive to perform executed frequently may have a higher aggregated cost of execution than a process that is expensive to perform and is infrequently executed)
  • number of employees involved with execution of the process (the greater the number the more complex the process and the greater the likelihood improvement opportunities exist)
  • number of employees performing the process within a specified period of time
  • number and severity of issues arising during routine performance of the process

Performing an End-To-End Process Evaluation

End-to-end process evaluations are intended to be thorough; identifying process, technology, and execution shortfalls and their causes. While not all inclusive, the following is a sample list of items that should be looked at during an end-to-end process evaluation:

  • total time to execute the process
  • time to perform each activity
  • time to transition between one activity and another, particularly when the transition represents a hand-off between individuals or organizations
  • points in the process where backlogs exist
  • points in the process where individuals experience downtime because they are waiting for the preceding activity’s completion
  • redundant data entry within a single system
  • instances where data is not transferred between software applications when multiple systems are used during process performance
  • manual data manipulation when such calculations can be performed by the supporting application
  • instances requiring authorization when such permission is provided by default
  • activities performed multiple times or by multiple individuals when such activities do not significantly reduce the risk of error
  • data checks performed by individuals that could be performed by a properly configured software application
  • transition points hindrances resulting from the manual transfer of data between systems, geographic and/or time separation of task performers, and inadequate communications mechanisms
  • process execution that is slower than allowed by regulation or policy
  • individuals who are over-qualified for assigned tasks / opportunities to assign tasks to less qualified, less expensive personnel
  • individuals who are performing tasks that could be delegated to personnel at lower level positions within the organization
  • activities performed by people that could be performed by software applications
  • process points where errors frequently occur
  • times in the day when process errors frequently occur
  • times relative to the organization’s daily schedule that errors commonly occur

As with all self assessments, the answers to these questions should be derived from direct process execution observations, record reviews (completed process forms, error reports, corrective action requests, root/apparent/direct cause analysis reports, etcetera), application data reviews, personnel interviews, and procedure reviews. The combination of facts derived from these studies is then used to formulate and validate improvement opportunity hypothesis.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember plans=”47715, 25542, 25653″]

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Additional Information

An illustration of how data is effective merged from various sources to identify performance issues is presented within the StrategyDriven Information Development Model.

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