How BEM Helped a Social Enterprise Meet its Goals
How many paper forms do employees in your organization use to get work accomplished? The answer is likely more than you (or they) think. Using the Perigon Method for business process mapping, we engage employees to not only understand their job functions but to also understand how workflows through their organization. We often find that paper forms are part of a process that can be streamlined or deleted altogether.
That’s just what happened when we worked with Keepsake Theme Quilts (KTQ), a social purpose business in Columbus, OH. We’ll let Bruce Greenfield from their Board of Trustees tell the story of this process mapping case study. “KTQ employs deaf and hard-of-hearing adults to make keepsake quilts from t-shirts provided by the customer. The company’s social mission is, ‘To hire, train, and promote deaf individuals in a productive work environment free from communication barriers, where they produce unique, quality T-shirt Quilts which exceed the customer’s expectations.’” While there was definitely excitement at the prospect of using process mapping to streamline new processes that had been recently introduced, there were also two communication barriers.
- A lack of fluency in American Sign Language (ASL), which created the need for an interpreter.
- The lack of ASL established signs for terms used in business process mapping.
These barriers made the visually appealing process map more important than ever as a communication vehicle. Here are some additional learnings.
The KTQ staff quickly became engaged with business process mapping.
A key theme that emerged almost immediately was a large number of forms being used. Over time new forms had been created for new information needs that grew out of new products and related process changes. These forms also duplicated basic customer and order information and created much inefficiency in their processes.
As often happens, most employees were focused on their own jobs.
Because of this, they didn’t understand how the whole system worked. We quickly gathered all the forms to illustrate the duplicated efforts. They were astounded at all the paperwork floating around.
Improvements were fast and substantial.
As a result, KTQ staff updated their processes and reduced the number of forms by half. They were also able to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences of their new product lines, which helped further streamline the system. Meredith Crane, KTQ founder and Executive Director and mother of two deaf adult children, added, “Our organization employs deaf people that rely on visual cues to enhance their work skills and production. Process mapping was essential to understanding our workflow. By creating the maps, we were able to analyze our paperwork and our materials used and identify areas that were inefficient and needed improvement. Because it is visual, the process map is easier for our deaf employees to understand and has become a valuable tool in our day-to-day operation. For us, the process mapping exercise enhanced production and business efficiency . Our year-end workflow reports indicate we have been able, on the average, to meet all deadlines when producing our quilts.”
As a result of business process mapping, KTQ reached a milestone in 2015 when annual sales eclipsed 1,000 quilts. The agency’s new products are catching on, and there’s a great deal of excitement for 2016. The improvements made will help the staff handle continued growth. Please consider supporting Keepsake Theme Quilts. Do something with those drawers full of t-shirts. Have a commemorative quilt made for a high school or college grad, runner, sports fan, club member, teammate. Specialty items are also available. www.tshirtquilts.com Deaf-friendly is, of course, everyone-friendly. Pictures work better than words, and there’s no friendlier way to communicate workflow than business process mapping.
Continue Reading: Why Business Process Mapping Makes Sense for Your Business
Challenge the way you think about work. Download the free eBook today to learn:
- How to map business processes
- How to create a business system diagram
- How to transform your business
Further Reading: BUSINESS PROCESS IMPROVEMENT