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Category Archives: Business Analysis

Why you Should Document Business Processes

Best Practices, Business Analysis, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Small Business

By Denise Larcade, CSM, CSPO, Prosci

One thing I’ve seen in my 25+ years working in change management and business analysis is that documenting Business Processes and supporting documents like Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) adds value to a business in a variety of ways.

Unfortunately, some believe that documenting processes and procedures is not always the most exciting of tasks, and it’s often put off from one person to the next. Before you know it, the documented process for a task may be severely outdated—or nonexistent.

A lack of documentation can reduce efficiency of your business if, for example, someone goes on vacation. The back-up who’s covering for them should have access to the Business Process Diagram (BPD) and accompanying SOPs so they can do the job of the person who’s out. If there’s no documentation, the back-up has no idea what to do. The impact to the business is that while the process may be well-defined and streamlined, if it’s not documented, then time and labor is not utilized efficiently.

A complete lack of documentation can be a major problem if an employee leaves. Without knowing their day-to-day processes, it will be difficult to hire a qualified person to take over for them, not to mention keeping business running in the interim.

Luckily, documenting processes and procedures is not a daunting task. Businesses of any size can and should document their process. KAI Partners, a certified small business with fewer than 100 employees, regularly documents its processes and procedures.

When starting out, a good rule of thumb is that each WHAT documented in the BPD should be supported by some documentation on HOW (oftentimes an SOP). Further, when the Business Processes are updated, the accompanying SOP should be updated at the same time.

For example, if the diagram step in the BPD states, “Create Invoice,” there should be a manual/guide, SOP, or job aid detailing how to create the invoice. If today the invoice is created on a Mac and tomorrow it’s changed to a PC, the step in the BPD may not change, but the supporting documents will.

So, what do you do once you’ve documented your Business Processes? Stick them in a drawer and forget about them? No!

Depending on your current business state, you should look at your Business Processes quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. For mergers and acquisitions, I recommending looking at your processes quarterly. If your business is not going through a major change, you should check in with your Business Processes every six months or every year.

When you do regular audits of your business process, you’re checking for:

  1. Accuracy.Is everything the same, or have you made any business changes that should be updated? Think about the scenario above—if the software used to create the invoice is inaccessible due to a licensing issue, a work around may need to be created to keep the BPD current. If the work around does not have a solution date and may be a long-term work around, you should consider updating the BPD to reflect that. (Another reason why regularly-scheduled reviews are valuable—it forces the business owner to address something that was supposed to have been fixed by a certain date.)
  2. Improvements. Is there a way you can improve or streamline the process? What steps no longer need to be done or how can we automate? Perform a cost analysis to determine which step is most efficient.
  3. Future state. What may the future of this process look like? Look at how is the industry shifting or how have other organizations changed. If there’s a new system the industry is using, assess the initial cost to stand up using a new system, as well as the cost over time to change to the new process. This information will be helpful in the future, as changes start making their way down the pike.

I recommend every business—large or small—regularly document and update their processes and procedures. For those who are on the fence, just remember that while eliminating processes may eliminate roles, streamlining a business process means you can now put people in roles that need more attention. This will help your business running at its most efficient.

About the Author: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to one of KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

Project Management: A Case Study

Business Analysis, Issues and Risks, KAI Partners, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP)

By Guest Blogger Tony Oliver, Penny Wise Consulting Group

This blog post first appeared on the Penny Wise Consulting Group’s blog and was posted here with permission. The original post can be found here.

Ah, flying. The friendly skies. The luxury aboard the plane. The jet-set and the glamour. All gone.

Nowadays, few experiences elicit the same sort of hatred as commercial aviation. Beyond the vitriol, the stale pretzels, and the harsh treatment from flight attendants, though, there are many project management tactics at play.

According to USA Today, an average day has 1,000 commercial flights over the U.S., mostly distributed across the major ~9 domestic airlines. Major carriers like American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines each boast over 200 regularly-scheduled segments, each replete with its own challenges and intricacies.

Despite the obvious similarities (fly a large metal bird from point A to point B), each flight should be seen as a stand-alone project. Though it may be regularly-scheduled and often repeated daily, each one represents a specific, time-boxed instance.

While it does share various elements with its predecessors and successors (such as origin, destination, expected route, etc.) it is very much a different iteration every day. Much like publishing a daily newspaper, a monthly newsmagazine, or hosting a yearly event like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, the blueprint may exist, but its execution may be wholly different. Here’s how:

  • The “project team.” Some pilots, co-pilots, and flight attendants may be assigned routes that repeat themselves every week, as circuits begin and end. To paraphrase Jon Bon Jovi, “it’s all the same, only the names have changed.” Much like a professional sports team or even an award-winning theater ensemble, the composition of the crew may carry over to a large degree, but rarely does it reach 100%. Nevertheless, the accumulated knowledge, captured as best known methods, checklists, or even desk manuals, can be reused to the benefit of would-be successors or apprentices.
  • The passengers are different. With an average plane carrying 200 souls, things are bound to go awry. Babies, first-time fliers, and stranded connecting passengers can all wreak havoc on the best-laid plans. Much like a project has contingency and risk management plans to address what could “feasibly” go wrong, a plane’s crew has multiple ways to address—and ideally remedy— any misalignments between the project plan and reality.
  • The conditions may be different. Yes, point A to point B is typically best served in a straight line…but does it always go that way? Turbulence, traffic, and unforeseen circumstances like airspace closures can make plans just another example of wishful thinking.
  • Risks from associated processes, Part 1. A snafu with catering, unexpected downtime by the TSA screening machines, or a broken luggage conveyor belt can prevent the loading and unloading of the passengers. These are shared risks not “owned” by the airline, but with a strong direct dependency. Contingency plans show their value here, shedding any would-be “luxury” label to rightfully claim the “necessity” one.
  • Risks from associated processes, Part 2. The above are somewhat related to the airport, but what happens if the issue stems from outside of it? A massive accident on the freeway or the spontaneous protests against President Trump’s immigration order would deter thousands of would-be passengers from boarding their flights. Deciding what degree of delay is acceptable (flying without the passengers seems silly, but affecting subsequent flights from destination cities may affect a much larger portion of the customer base) is part finesse and part analytics— but 100% necessary for proper project management.

Even if your next flight is for pleasure, keep your “project manager hat” on and count the many instances of project management. Like hidden Mickeys scattered throughout Disney World, you will be amazed at how much is in plain view when you are really looking for it!

 About the Author: Tony Oliver is a project manager by trade, a marketing guru by profession, and a lifelong learner from birth. His best trait is an inquisitive mind, which drives his desire to understand not just the “what” but also the “how” and more importantly, the “why” and “why not?” Tony is experienced in supply, pricing, demand, and consumption analysis and holds an MBA in marketing from a top 20 school (UNC Chapel Hill) and an undergraduate English Literature degree from Georgetown University. With 15+ years of experience with Intel and Cisco, Tony is fully bilingual (English, Spanish) with a working knowledge of French, as well as a seasoned public speaker and instructor of Project Management and Presentation Skills courses.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The PMP

Agile, Business Analysis, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), KAI Partners, Managing/Leadership, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Sacramento, Scrum, Small Business


There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success. Today, we bring you the journey of one of our Project Managers, Jamie Spagner, Project Management Professional (PMP)® and Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM).

KAI Partners, Inc.: Jamie, how did you get into project management work?

Jamie Spagner: I got into Project Management by default. In college, I wanted to be a lobbyist. I wanted to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of elected officials. But, life had a different plan. I was blessed with a beautiful little boy my last semester in college. Because of this new addition to my life, I was unable to attend The Washington Center program I was slated for in Washington D.C. Being a mother forced me to explore other career options that would allow me to provide a decent life for my son as a single mom. At the time, the IT industry had higher-paying jobs out of college, so I looked for a ways to get into that field.

In college, I worked part-time for the Money Store, which later became First Union, then Wachovia, and is now Well Fargo. I held many positions, but I always watched the job boards to see the various positions being offered and the qualifications needed. One day I stumbled on a Senior Technical Writer position.

While I ultimately didn’t have the experience for the Senior Technical Writer role at the time, I did establish a relationship and mentorship with the hiring manager. She told me the books I should read for learning, encouraged me to join the Society for Technical Communication (STC), and invited me to different events with her team. Within 6-8 months of establishing that relationship, she hired me as a Technical Writer.

Through natural progression, I worked as a Technical Writer, then transitioned to a Business Analyst. From Business Analyst, I advanced into Project Management.

KAI: Some people may not realize the difference between being a Project Manager and being a Project Manager with a Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. Can you explain why you decided to pursue your PMP®? How has it helped you?

JS: I decided to pursue my PMP because it’s a respected certification in the field. The test is not an easy test, so it shows a level of dedication to employers to see a potential candidates who has gone the extra step to obtain those three letters.

It also opens doors professionally. Many employers require a PMP certification for Project Management positions; the project I am currently working on requires it.

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

JS: My favorite part about my job is collaborating with people to deliver a product or service. Ninety percent of a Project Manager’s job is communication. What I enjoy most is building relationships,

collaborating, influencing directions and decisions, and successfully delivering products and services to the client’s satisfaction.

KAI: What is one of the most common project management questions you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

JS: “What is project management?” is the most common question I get from people. The advice I give to clients is to be transparent and always be able to defend their “Why.” In this profession, you have to make quick decisions and sometimes they are not always the right decisions. However, it’s important to always be able defend why you made the decision you made.

Now that we’ve learned more about Jamie’s PM work, here’s a little more about her!

Quick Q&A with Jamie:

Daily, must-visit website: Pinterest

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to: Hip-hop and R&B

Best professional advice received: Be courageous; do not be afraid to fail

Book you can read over and over again: “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

Most-recent binge-watched show: New Edition Movie. This was a movie about the pop group New Edition that aired on BET…I loved it!

About Jamie: Jamie Spagner is an Executive Consultant for KAI Partners, where she works as a Project Manager for a public sector health care client. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with the Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies/Public Relation. She is a loving mother of a teenage son named Wyatt. In her spare time, she enjoys shopping, spending time with family/close friends, and working out.

6 Netflix Documentaries to Hone your Business Analysis Skills

Business Analysis, Learning, Managing/Leadership, Small Business

Documentaries Business Skills

By Guest Blogger Tony Oliver, Penny Wise Consulting Group

This blog post first appeared on the Penny Wise Consulting Group’s blog and was posted here with permission. The original post can be found here.

A true juggernaut, Netflix has twice changed how we consume television, first with its red DVD envelopes and now with its streaming service. The Los Gatos, CA company has slain much larger rivals along the way to domination. While its roster of original programming (House of Cards, Stranger Things, etc.) has been lauded by critics and fans alike, many true gems remain hidden. The “documentary” section contains a wealth of offerings covering various topics, and most are comfortably in the approx. 90-minute range.

While the list is far from exhaustive, it gives a nice starting point the next time you can’t decide whether to binge on Daredevil or The Crown. After all, an amuse-bouche to clean the palate is proper etiquette.

  • Atari: Game OverExplaining Atari to millennials is an interesting exercise; I often equate the company to Google, Facebook, and Apple all rolled into one. For a generation that had only experienced primitive cable tv to compliment the big three networks, Atari’s impact is hard to exaggerate. The VCS and its successors brought video games out of the arcade and into the house. Billions of hours spent on Yar’s Revenge, Atlantis, and Pole Position gave us sore thumbs, but countless memories. The company, however, fell on hard times due to a combination of bad timing, competition, saturation, and its own hubris. The film expertly weaves these factors while digging for a Lost Ark-like treasure: cartridges dumped into a New Mexico landfill in 1983. Its teachings on how supply/demand planning can go awry by group-think is an outstanding business case.
  • American Genius: National Geographic Channel special, the series delves into the role of rivalries behind amazing discoveries and feats. While its 45-minute length prevents the topics from being comprehensively discussed, it provides enough goodness to awaken one’s desire to go out and do great things…or at the very least, pick up a book to learn more about the topics. It may give you a new perspective on your competition and the role it shapes in your industry.
  • Brain GamesI can only imagine the pitch: “We have an idea for a show to make neuroscience cool.” My daughter absolutely loves the show, and if you are in marketing—and if you are in business, you are in marketing—you will find dozens of great lessons on consumer behavior. Whether you use them wisely or not is entirely up to you.
  • Living on One DollarCostco’s hot dog and soda combo at $1.49 (before tax) is rightfully lauded as an amazing deal. Top quality beef and an unlimited amount of soda make for a pretty good snack, yet the meal would be out of reach for someone living on $1 a day in Guatemala, as the film captures. Beyond making an impactful social statement, it can teach businesses with expansionary dreams not to discount the differences of their potential customers’ buying power.
  • The Magic of Heineken:The story of Freddy Heineken and his devotion to the family business is nothing but engrossing. Mixing pictures, video, and Le Petit Prince-like animations, the documentary takes you through successive generations and battles to preserve and expand the brand. Those seeking to understand a “think globally, act locally” approach to establishing a brand in other countries will learn great lessons on how the company acquired local businesses to penetrate new markets and acquire local goodwill for the world famous green bottle.
  • The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms:This BBC production provides a lot of answers on algorithms, but more importantly, it prompts one to ask more questions. With big data and analytics driving an ever-increasing number of business decisions, understanding how algorithms work is essential. While not everyone is an engineer, it behooves those of us in other functions (marketing, finance, logistics) to gain a deeper appreciation of the problem-solving muscle.

Have you caught any movies or documentaries recently that tie into your business? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: Tony Oliver is a project manager by trade, a marketing guru by profession, and a lifelong learner from birth. His best trait is an inquisitive mind, which drives his desire to understand not just the “what” but also the “how” and more importantly, the “why” and “why not?” Tony is experienced in supply, pricing, demand, and consumption analysis and holds an MBA in marketing from a top 20 school (UNC Chapel Hill) and an undergraduate English Literature degree from Georgetown University. With 15+ years of experience with Intel and Cisco, Tony is fully bilingual (English, Spanish) with a working knowledge of French, as well as a seasoned public speaker and instructor of Project Management and Presentation Skills courses.

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