Write down your process to analyze it

One of the best ways to analyze a given process (e.g., membership joins) is to flowchart it. Flowcharts can be very useful in identifying weak spots, redundancies, or exceptions.

But another useful tool is to simply write down the process as a narrative. This could be bullet points or actual paragraphs.

But writing down the process allows you to see just how complex (or simple!) the process is. The more words you have, the more complex the process.

For example, the easiest membership join process looks more or less like this:

  1. Customer comes to the website and either logs in (has existing record) or creates a record.
  2. Customer chooses from one of three member types (e.g., student, regular, or retired).
  3. Customer pays and becomes a member.

Now compare that to a more common scenario:

  1. Customer comes to the website and either logs in (has existing record) or creates a record.
  2. Customer is presented with seven to ten different options for membership, all with varying prices and descriptions, requiring customer to read each to determine the appropriate membership type.
  3. Customer chooses a membership and then is asked a series of demographic questions.
  4. Customer is asked to donate to the foundation.
  5. Customer pays and becomes a member.

On the surface the difference is only two steps. But if you dig deeper (i.e., write out more detail) you'll find that the second process is much more involved than the first. For example, in step 2 above, although the actual customer action is "select a membership," the step itself is much more involved because the customer will likely have to read all descriptions before selecting the proper membership type.

By writing out the steps, you can see if there are opportunities for making the process simpler.

So if you're struggling with a particular process, flowcharting is a great tool. But you might find just by writing it all down you can identify areas for improvement.

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