Process Optimization And The Art of Mapmaking - Two Case Studies

Posted: Updated:

Large or small, businesses contain processes that define how they work. Those processes may be simple or complex, and may or may not be documented and consistent across the organization. During growth and change, processes tend to become more complex in one of two ways:

Like pioneers exploring uncharted territory, start-up organizations tend to build processes organically. These methods are rarely documented and evolve quickly with technology and business changes. Individuals find their own ways of working, which is efficient until the scale inhibits collaboration.

Much like ancient cities featuring cobblestone streets accented with modern traffic controls, transitioning organizations typically have processes in place that were developed during growth phases and modified in reaction to localized problems. Depending on the age of the organization, those processes may no longer be effective.

Companies including CORE Planning Strategies work with organizations to help them optimize their processes to improve their effectiveness. Similar to mapmakers using a compass to stay on course, we start by gathering data and progress into documenting the paths being traveled. The approach varies based on whether we are charting new courses or redirecting traffic patterns.

Growth Organizations - Charting New Territory

I recently consulted with a real estate development company that has experienced exponential growth over the past 5 years. The developers are primarily ambitious Millennials, eager to move up in the organization, willing to leverage technology, and nimble enough to learn new processes. However, each developer adopted programs that were familiar and readily available.

Our discovery phase began in discussions with upper management and top developers, and it highlighted the need to streamline processes for the development, preconstruction and construction phases. The interviews uncovered duplicative software packages that could be pared down to a single technology solution, allowing for dashboard-style reporting of project schedule, budget and status. This consolidation resulted in improved efficiencies for property management, marketing and leasing, who no longer required training on multiple scheduling software packages.

CORE worked with the client’s IT department to design cloud-based tools that track critical path, tasks, approvals, contact lists and design progress, resulting in the ability to readily share information across the organization. To close out the project, we provided diagrams defining the company’s tools and processes - resources that can help them with onboarding of new team members.

Transitioning Organizations - Clearing the Path

While managing a large capital program for a university client, we discovered three key challenges with their online collaboration solution:

  • Their file sharing solution would only operate using an old software version. Upgrading the software would cause the solution to fail, and delaying the upgrade was subjecting computers to security vulnerabilities.
  • The files were automatically purged after a period of time. This prevented the project team from verifying that they had current and complete files.
  • Identifying new files was only possible through a "hunt and peck" process - a time-consuming task that involved opening folders and subfolders and comparing contents with local records to find new content.

After discovering these challenges, we helped the team define requirements for a replacement solution.

  • Security of hardware and software was critical.
  • The university needed to own the information and the access to it through a controlled environment.
  • All users needed to see the shared information, and it could not disappear.
  • Changes to the content needed to be tracked through an RSS feed or other log.

After working with a university engineer to test potential solutions, presented by the university’s IT department, we agreed on a cloud-based system that synced to local machines and provided transferable controls of files and folders. Most importantly, the program efforts were no longer slowed by administrative issues, improving efficiency of both employees and consultants.

Continuous Process Optimization - Updating Your Navigation System

Have you ever turned on the navigation system in your car, and tried to drive to a house in a new neighborhood? Or, been directed to turn left when you need to go to the third exit in a roundabout? Online map programs are constantly charting new paths and updating their routes to stay current. This same principle applies to businesses.

As your business grows, first figure out what you do, and then start documenting how it happens. Share your successes with your coworkers, and work together toward standard processes that can be taught to new employees. Generate onboarding documentation and update it as your business evolves.

If you work within an established organization, notice experiences that are frustrating team members due to long approval processes or cumbersome requirements. Talk with your IT department, consultants and new employees to find out how the same tasks are completed in other organizations. Define your challenges and objectives, then test solutions before adoption.

Jenell Fairman is senior project manager for Core Planning Strategies.

  • Perspectives

    • How Well Are You Tracking Your Marketing?

      One of the first metrics business owners learn about is return on investment, or ROI. Earning the highest possible ROI is critical when running a business. You make investments with the expectation that you’ll have something to show for them. So how's the ROI on your investment in marketing and advertising? If you’re like most business owners, your answer is something like "I think it's pretty good" or "things seem to be working."



Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • (photo courtesy Dax Norton)

      Whitestown Again Indiana's Fastest-Growing Community

      The town manager of Whitestown says he is not surprised the town is the fastest-growing community in Indiana for the seventh consecutive year. The Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business says the Boone County town's population grew 7.6 percent last year. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Dax Norton said the commercial, industrial and retail sectors are driving the continued growth in population. Using estimates from the...

    • No Degree, No Problem: Top Jobs that Don't Require a College Degree

      The professional job market is competitive, with most positions requiring a college degree just to get in the door. However, college is both expensive and a serious time commitment.  Many of those who can’t afford college are still in search of jobs that pay well and can provide a career pathway to a sustainable life. Some of these men and women are skilled at working with their hands and want to apply their craft to something other than an office setting.

    • Indy-to-Paris Flight to Take Off

      City and state officials will Thursday and Friday celebrate the beginning of Indiana's first nonstop transatlantic flight between Indianapolis International Airport and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The celebration will culminate with Governor Eric Holcomb returning from his sixth international economic development trip and delivering the Indy 500 green flag to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett will join...

    • Long John Silver's Acquires Indiana Restaurants

      Louisville-based Long John Silver's has acquired more than 70 restaurants, most of which are located in Indiana, from Jasper-based ServUS. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, however the company says no jobs will be affected.

    • (photo courtesy Indiana Economic Development Corp.)

      Hoosier Delegation Travels to Germany

      Governor Eric Holcomb’s economic development trip to Europe continued with a stop in Germany. The Indiana delegation met with government, business and academic leaders in an effort to share best practices on “strengthening education and workforce development to support growing, diversified economies.”