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News You Can Use
Volume 1, August 2002

"Doing More with Less…One Approach"

In the television series "McGiver", the lead character would, at some point in every episode, find himself in a very tight jam. Be it handcuffed to a an explosive devise, timer ticking away, about to blow up half the free world; or single-handedly, having to defend a small town from an attack of trained mercenaries with nothing but dental floss, baby powder and a can of Raid with which to create a weapon. Sure enough, every episode he managed to make something from nothing and yes, save the day.

Local government managers have it so easy. Unfortunately you are already expected to make something from nothing…or at least make it from less than you had to make it with last year. Also, not only are you not left to your own resources; you are burdened with the inevitable "strings" that come attached to you as a public servant. Heck, saving the free world doesn't sound so tuff.

The Problem: Doing more with less.

A Solution: Map it!

Whether evaluating a process, a service or an entire department, Process Mapping may be a technique you can use. One, that will enable you to utilize the talent and information available to you and determine if there is a way to in fact do more with less.

Process Mapping is a technique that allows you to explore and visualize how a system operates or a service is delivered, from both a broad and general (macro) perspective, a more detailed (micro) perspective, or both.

Process Mapping is the visual representation of a process that illustrates:

In other words, Process Mapping-is a process that diagrams how a system operates. The process diagram itself, however, is not the end result.

The value of the process is that no matter how well we think we know a system, we will inevitably identify existing or potential service gaps that can be filled or improved. Once these gaps are identified, solutions addressing improved service, cost savings, and time issues are often discovered. This then, is when the critical assessment of what really happens occurs and the opportunity to visualize what is, what should be, and what could be comes into focus. Subsequently, assuming the right people have been involved in the mapping process, broad organizational support, i.e., "buy-in" for the improvements suggested will be realized.

What are the keys to a successful Process Mapping effort?

During times of severe fiscal restraint you must take time to plan. As well, you must look with scrutiny at the activities in which you and your employees are involved with on a daily basis. Those activities and processes impact the delivery of services to your constituents. While it is likely to take longer than one of McGiver's 60-minute episodes to address, I have yet to work with anyone who has not been pleased with the results of a sincere Process Mapping effort. Good Luck!

- Stephen J. Allan, President, Solutions 4 Local Government.
To learn more about Steve and his company, click on "Solutions".


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