Decision support opportunities are areas of improvement where you can help assist in decision making process. Every business decision directly relates to your organization’s revenue. This tool is all about auditing your process to identify where your organization makes decisions, how that decision is made, and what data is utilized to make an informed decision.
Similar to a Voice of the Customer (VOC) activity, you can gain insights and information on your process from surveys, focus groups, process walks, and interviews. Mapping the process using a SIPOC could be greatly helpful in the organization and documentation of your insights.
Where to Start!
As recommended in the SIPOC/COPIS tool, a great place to start auditing a process is where the customer takes receipt of their product and your organization takes credit for delivery and work backwards. Draw out each step and coordinate what decisions are made before progressing to the next step. The main goal of this exercise is to improve this decision, so take note of what data and insights are used (Even if the decision is made through the gut feel of an executive).
What Questions do You Ask?
When auditing a process, you will receive the most valuable insights through developing non-threatening questions that may make the interviewee feel they are being interrogated or disciplined.
Some good questions to ask are,
- How do you know when you’re having a good day?
- Who is your customer and what do they truly care about?
- What decisions do you make and what do information is used to make those decisions?
- How can we do better?
- What decision processes improvements should have the highest priority?
Process of a Decision Support Investigation,
Goals of Each Phase,
- Initial Opportunity Assessment: Speak with employees, leaders, and customers of the target area and document answers to the above questions. The goal of this phase is to document the high level processes and decisions made, along with corresponding data systems used to make those decisions.
- Audit Outline: Map the process including each step of information flow (what decision is being made, what information/data is used to make it, where is this information/data coming from?) This outline should identify prioritized opportunities and show next steps of your investigation,
- Communicate Goals & Engagement: Communicate the audit outline to the employees, stakeholders, and leaders. Solicit feedback for improvements/comments, but most importantly, gain agreement and support to launch initiative.
- Testing, Interviews, & Analysis: Develop a detailed flow diagram of each steps of your process, see SIPOC, including where information/data is utilized to make decisions. Develop solutions and test with your customers. These tests should be a MVP level (Minimum Viable Product), see Pretotyping.
- Observations, Discussion, & Stakeholder Agreement: Based on the tests, insights, and feedback received – document high level observations (what was successful and what was not), and communicate this to your stakeholders. Hold a discussion around these points, and record reactions and feedback from stakeholders. The goal of this phase is to gain agreement and support from stakeholders to formalize solutions for permanent implementation.
- Final Report of Results: Document full decision support investigation including,
- Initial observations,
- High level process map,
- Information flow,
- Prioritized list of opportunities,
- What worked, what did during testing,
- Recommendations for future IT/support system needs,
- What actions were taken.