You're reading...
Process Improvement, Processes

Unlocking improvements in charity processes

I get involved in a lot of process discovery work for charities (and other organisations) and this blog post summarises a typical approach. Overall, the key activities would be as follows:

Senior managers have to start by identifying the purpose of the programme or project. This may be to support growth ambitions, to improve performance for beneficiaries or to achieve efficiency savings. The purpose is NOT to document the processes! Note also the importance of change and communication planning right at the start.







The high-level process model provides a context within which all the other, more detailed, process definition will be done. It also enables senior managers to be assigned as Process Owners who will be accountable for the improvement in the performance of their processes. An example, generic charity process model is shown below:

I facilitate live mapping workshops with staff to capture the next-level processes.

Typically, these may be 1, 2 or 3 hour workshops where we use mapping software. The tool is free and I provide my clients with access to view and/or edit the maps.

2 example maps are shown below.

Each diagram identifies the process steps plus the resources (people and/or systems) required to operate them. Additional information can be attached (see step 3 with the “paperclip” icon), for example, checklists or working policies/procedures.

The software enables us to report on the organisation’s maps, for example, to identify all the process steps where a particular role is involved or where systems are in place.

(Bursary Awards process)








(Order to Pay process)








The mapping tool works hierarchically, so steps 1 and 3 above have drill-down details. The drill-down for Step

1 is shown below:

Following the capture of the As Is processes, I work with staff to identify the data needed to quantify today’s performance. Some data may be readily available through existing reporting systems, but it may be necessary to do some sampling of past or current transactions. Data requirements typically cover:

• Transaction volumes (input quantities and frequencies)
• Processing times
• Delay times
• Error and/or rework rates
• Customer/User feedback (complaints, satisfaction)

All these provide baseline data against which improvements can be measured. They also, typically, help to identify some quick win opportunities that can be implemented without investing in new technology.

I use the same approach for defining To Be processes and this results in maps that can be used as the basis for a Business Case and Statement of Requirements where systems changes may be needed.

The benefits of the live-mapping workshops include:

  • A huge amount of detail can be captured in a short space of time
  • I leave the client with an online version of their processes that can be updated and used for induction, training and knowledge-sharing
  • Staff are highly engaged in the capture process and begin to identify and implement improvement opportunities for themselves

The Roadmap resulting from these activities may be as simple as a prioritised list of processes to be improved/automated or a more detailed phasing diagram showing the changes required.

More information on my work with charities.

More information on process improvement.













Comments are closed.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 598 other followers

Connect with Ian Seath

Find us on Facebook Improvement Skills Consulting Ltd. on LinkedIn Follow IanJSeath on Twitter


Copyright Notice

© Improvement Skills Consulting Ltd. and Ian Seath, 2007-20. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Improvement Skills Consulting Ltd. and Ian Seath with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

%d bloggers like this: