EPPI Stage 1: Targeting Enterprise Process Performance Improvement

Most improvement methodologies begin with their means in mind. Lean efforts will use streamlining methods to produce revamped processes stripped of unnecessary tasks and delays. Six Sigma efforts will use statistical variation reduction methods in the product producing processes. Organizational Development efforts will use behavioral science, group dynamics, assessment of strategy deployment and goal alignment methods to improve the effectiveness of the enterprise leadership, management and individual contributors. Education and training efforts will use Instructional Systems Design methods to produce awareness-knowledge-skills building content. Etc. Etc.

Almost all recognize the interrelationships of the other performance factors that the other methods address, but few have their integration and collaboration requirements built in from their git-go.

Warning: If your improvement efforts are not targeting strategically significant ROI, then perhaps the following is overkill indeed. But then why are you bothering with improvement? Allocating limited enterprise resources for marginal returns is most likely not in the best interests of your shareholders.

If your improvement strategy is to improve everything everywhere without regard to strategic impact and ROI you should stop reading right now. This is not for you.

Targeting Enterprise Process Performance Improvement

EPPI Stage 1

Stage 1 of EPPI – Targeting Enterprise Process Performance Improvement efforts hold off on solution declarations until all probable causes for current gaps from ideal, or future gaps that can be anticipated are identified, verified and sized…and their solution-sets identified, verified and sized…and potential ROI established for targeting the real and/or anticipated gaps eliminated and/or resolved.


A key model, next, is our adaptation and extension of the Ishikawa Diagram, also known as the Fishbone or Cause & Effect Diagram.

It has been adapted and extended on the left by viewing a process as part of an “owner’s” functional system within a configuration of departments, functions and business units of an enterprise. It has been adapted and extended on the right by re-organizing the variables into two main branches of Human Assets and Environmental Assets and exploding those another layer.


EPPI Process Performance Variables

The model is intended to highlight the three key variables of process performance:

  • The process itself with it’s upstream inputs and suppliers, and downstream output receivers; and its position in the enterprise relative to the strategic drivers and stakeholder requirements
  • The enabling human assets and their awareness, knowledge, skills, physical attributes, psychological attributes, intellectual attributes and personal values that they bring to the process
  • The enabling environmental assets and the provisioning systems that supply the process and the human assets with enablers such as the data/information, materials/supplies, tools/equipment, financial resources, facilities/grounds, and the culture/consequences

The Process Itself

The process itself is a component of a larger, complex Value Chain. It and the Value Chain have many stakeholders

Stakeholder Hierachy Example 1

Stakeholders with potentially complex and perhaps conflicting requirements (needs) and desires (wants).

Many varied process and process improvement methods exist. And many traditional enterprise functions “house” the experts representing those methods. For example Marketing may house the upfront portions of Quality Function Deployment for determining customer needs and wants expertise while Manufacturing Engineering may house the backend portions of product and process design. In the middle they may share analysis of the competitors’ offerings. Their need to collaborate is critical.

But many other functional players may be required in to play nicely in any number of “owner function’s process.” Engineering may support the Materials function’s process for certifying vendors’ quality programs, etc.

The Enabling Human Assets


Figure 3:  The Human Variable

Don Tosti declared in his February 2006 BPTrends White Paper that:

Every organization is a human performance system:

  • It was founded by people.
  • It’s run by people, and
  • It’s established to provide value to the people who are its customers/stakeholders.

Agreed. Without the human element there is nothing. No customer. No requirements. No process to produce outputs to meet those requirements. No suppliers to provide process inputs. No one to care one way or another.

The human elements’ knowledge/skills, attributes and values either enable or prohibit their peak performance in specifying or capturing the requirements and desires of the customers, designing the processes to meet those requirements and desires, providing the process inputs necessary, and performing within the processes to produce and deliver the outputs downstream to internal or external customers in the Value Chain.

And while not all knowledge/skills, attributes and value variables of the performers are equal in terms of their probable impact on their processes performance, they must be known in order to assess the leverage potential of the critical few from the important many.

Therefore I must take slight exception to Paul Harmon’s statement in his July 18, 2006 BPTrends Email Advisor regarding the need (or not) for detailed mapping and modeling of processes:

Keep in mind, the goal isn’t to model everything, but only to create such models as are needed by business people or IT folks to accomplish their daily tasks. We analyze to see if we can determine how to perform the process better, or to specify what needs to be automated. We usually don’t need to try to analyze how a loan negotiator carries out each step of the negotiation.

Not true for the HR folks, including the training staff concerned with performance-based training or legal staff concerned with compliance. Nor for the IT folks who are attempting to assess the potential for automating the potentially routine elements of that type of negotiation. But occasionally true; especially if that process performance isn’t routine at all and is highly situational and inter-personal relationship dependent.

And the generic competencies in prevalent use today will never get anyone to peak performance. They may make it easier to assess and compensate people; but easier isn’t often better let alone adequate. Especially for the most critical of your processes and performers.

The Enabling Environmental Assets


This is the EPPI analysis and design framework used to determine the specifics in each category for all of the necessary enablers of those critical process performances. Once any deficiencies in the necessary enablers are determined for the current state or anticipated for some future state, the impact to process performance can be assessed, and the cost for addressing can be estimated, enabling the enterprise to forecast the R (return) for the I (investment).

Stage 1 Leads to Stage 2

EPPI Stage 1 and 2

In Stage 2 you’d employee Process Re-Engineering, ToC, Lean, Six Sigma, etc., etc.

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