Getting started with Diagnostics
Open Orbit is a unique algorithm-based business process improvement tool. It mentors users through an optimised way of solving business improvement problems – proactively recommending the most relevant symptoms, causes, and remedies for the problem - to drastically reduce project duration and cost.
The algorithm guides human judgment to speed up the identification of the best solution. It’s like a GPS for users, helping them get to where they need to be as quickly and reliably as possible. Open Orbit stores the best route so it can be referred to by anyone in the organisation. Unlike any other tool on the market, it builds reusable corporate memory of what works and why, in a way that’s accessible by anyone, regardless of their familiarity with business process improvement. It also detects whether multiple users in the organisation have similar problems and connects them to drive collaboration. This user guide has been designed to help you get started with the diagnostics journey on Open Orbit. It is the first of the series of guides that includes how to use the platform to track and manage improvement projects, how to extend the functionality as a Super User, and how to manage user licences in your organisation as an Administrator.
After sign up and account application, we can get started with adding a new project. In the blank space add your Project name, optionally enter a description (you may defer this step till later and leave the field blank for now if you wish) and click on Submit.
A new record will get created and will contain a button called “Project Details”.
Best Practice Tip: Project names should be brief and yet easy to understand for your colleagues. Use acronyms and jargon only if widely prevalent in your organisation. A longer description can always be added in the Description field. In some cases, your organisation may have issued guidelines on nomenclature, and if so we highly recommend you follow them. Everyone following those simple rules can make a significant impact on how easily people can find knowledge and lessons embedded in each other’s work.
Faster improvement has to start with a clearer definition of the problem. A process transformation problem has three elements to it:
We will now learn about each of these aspects, as well as how to perform the relevant steps in Open Orbit. The first step in defining a process improvement problem is “symptom-cause-remedy” analysis. Open Orbit is a GPS for process improvement. You feed in the map coordinates and it shows you an optimised path towards better processes.
The map coordinates are industry, process type and business objective. Together, they enable Open Orbit to recommend some metrics to measure (or symptoms to check for). After you have shortlisted some metrics from this list, the tool recommends causes to check for. And based on which of those causes you shortlist as potentially relevant to your business, it will recommend solutions (or remedies) to consider.
In the first iteration, all of this is just a working hypothesis. You haven’t actually validated the shortlist with people who perform the process. That will be the next step. The purpose of this first iteration is to build a working hypothesis that significantly speeds up the diagnosis compared with starting with a blank sheet. It will be refined over multiple iterations.
Go to the Project Details page of the Diagnostic workbench. You will now need to set context in your project: The first map coordinate is the industry you are working in. Add new Industry Vertical: select from standardized lists of industries, which have been designed to optimize the generation of actionable insights in the quickest and most relevant way.
Best Practice Tip: While you can use add multiple industries, we recommend you stick to one unless it clearly doesn’t capture the context of your project.This enables more focus in the following steps.
We now turn to the second map coordinate - selecting a process type. You have an option to ‘ASK OO” to give a list of relevant processes appropriate under the selected Industry. Alternately, you may select from a comprehensive list of processes listed.
Best Practice Tip: While you can use add multiple processes, we recommend you stick to one unless it clearly doesn’t capture the context of your project. This enables more focus in the following steps.
This brings us to the third map coordinate – Business Objective. Why is there a problem worth solving at all? What is the high level objective here? Is it increased revenue? Or reduced cost? Or better customer experience? Timeliness perhaps? Defining this objective can be hard as many of these high-level goals overlap. Despite this, it is important to pause and think here, and make an informed choice as to which option you will go for. Spending this time now and making sure the project has the right focus will save a lot of time and money further down the track. The Primary or Secondary Objective can sometimes change at a later stage in the project based on further understanding of the problem.
Best Practice Tip: The Primary Objective should be chosen with care so as to drive the right focus for the project. The algorithm automatically takes care of the interdependencies. For example, a process cannot be efficient without being accurate (doing the wrong thing efficiently doesn’t count!) so selecting Efficiency implies that Accuracy is included. Similarly a process cannot deliver good customer experience without being accurate as well as timely. Again, the algorithm will consider such dependencies and you do not need to add the other factor as a secondary objective “just to be sure”. At the same time, there is no harm as such if you did do so, to emphasise the factor for people who read about your project. Also, it is easy to change this setting and re-run the recommendations algorithm at any time of the project without invalidating the work done to that point. All these lists above are standard drop down, standard lists allow for the algorithm to be leveraged better making for speedier analysis. You are benefiting from the wisdom of the crowd, so to speak, without compromising the confidentiality of your business data. These lists are continuously evolving based on how people use the technology, so you are being encouraged to categorise your problem based on how others in similar situations categorised it.
Reviewer's Tip: It is critical that the reviewer validates the context as these will play an important role in the recommendation output. Please pay special attention to the Objective / Big Y selected for the process.
We now have the foundation in place to begin our Symptom Cause Remedy analysis. A visit to the physician starts with a purpose to resolve an illness. You are experiencing symptoms, which need to be then assessed by the physician. In our case, the symptoms are the business metrics, and how close or far they are from target values.
The tool has a repository of metrics. Ask the tool for the relevant metrics for your hypothesis by clicking on “Ask OO”. This will show you a list of symptoms to check for. The list of metrics is arranged into groups in multiple layers. For example, measures of “correctness”, or “timeliness” etc. You can expand and collapse these groups as you browse through the suggestions. Use the “+” / “-“buttons to expand and collapse the structured set of question. These questions help you frame your thinking process and guide you through every possible option that might be relevant in the business problem that you are trying to solve. Use the “Add” button to select the metric and “info” button to read more about the topic:
Best Practice Tip:
Reviewer's Tip: While metrics can be added/deleted at a later stage, as a reviewer please consider that all relevant metrics are selected - check for aliases and ensure that the list is not too long and at the same time covers all important aspects of the project. It is wise to select the metrics that are currently not measured but should be measured potentially. This should be captured in the Solution Check list. Also redirect users to the “info” button to read more about the metrics. the Wiki page on these topics are handy and help practitioner to clear his thinking and understanding about the particular topic.
Now that we have selected the symptoms, the next step is to quickly learn about the possible causes and explore remedies or solutions. You can always come back to the list of metrics and make additions or deletions as you learn more about the process. Coming back to our medical analogy, it is now time for the doctor to investigate the possible causes of your symptoms.
Open Orbit shortlists some causes for you when you click the ‘Ask OO’ button. The tool can also help you to analyse causes more effectively by breaking them down into the following categories; Environment, Process, People, Measurement, Policies and Systems. You can expand and collapse these groups as you browse through the suggestions. Use the “+” / “-“buttons to expand and collapse. The lists can be sorted by either Cause type or Metric. Use the “Add” button to select the cause and “info” button to read more about the topic. Once selected, the cause will appear on the right hand side panel of the screen. You can also delete if need be from this list of Causes
Open Orbit’s algorithm uses a comprehensive database of root causes and it will make sure you haven’t missed anything. It will reduce the effort and time needed to identify causes thereby maximising your capacity to do more. These recommendations can help you come up with probing questions that you can ask during workshops and stakeholder meetings. You can also use your own judgement and knowledge of the specific business situation to filter the recommendations from the algorithm.
Best Practice Tip:
Reviewer's Tip: While causes can be added/deleted at a later stage, as a reviewer please consider that all relevant type of causes are selected, usually people tend to get inclined towards people / system related causes, therefore it is important that the causes are selected keeping the broad spectrum in mind. A good idea is to conduct a brain storming session with the project team and Subject matter experts using the AsK OO list, which will help users ensure that they shine the torch in each corner of the room. In case you have a customised cause, particular to the project, please get the Super User of your account to add it to the “Private List”. Also another point to make note here is that the causes are a deliberate high level expression and thus it gives the user flexibility to set context and record the particular issue in the comments in the Diagnostic Map.
So far we shortlisted symptoms and then we selected possible causes. We are nearly at the end of our diagnostic cycle. It is now time for the physician to recommend treatment. A solution is initially set up as a hypothesis that must be validated before being taken up for implementation. Like Metrics and Causes, the list of Solutions in the project evolves during the life of the project.
The tool will provide a list of remedies or solutions to solve for the problem at hand. The tool enables you to sort the solutions suggested based on the cause. It also categorises them by Environment, Process, People, Policies, Measurement and Systems. Just like we selected metrics and causes you can use “Ask OO” button to recommend possible solution against the selected causes. You can expand and collapse these groups as you browse through the suggestions. Use the “+” / “-“buttons to expand and collapse. The lists can be sorted by either Solution Type or Cause. Use the “Add” button to select the Solution and “info” button to read more about the topic. Once selected, the solution will appear on the right hand side panel of the screen
This full cycle of symptom, cause and remedy should be used continuously and iteratively throughout the project to provide probing questions for workshops and to capture insights as your understanding of the problem evolves.
Best Practice Tip:
Reviewer's Tip: Solutions typically will be the reverse of the cause and you need to elaborate particular actions for the recommended solution in the “Solution Check List” in Open Orbit. In case you have a customised solution, particular to the project, please get the Super User of your account to add it to the “Private List”. Also a detailed “How to” step is available in the Wiki - Info button of the Solution section, so it is worth a read to get some tangible actions. .
remember the Metric-Cause-Solution diagnostic cycle is a working hypothesis and the user is expected to come back to this section multiple times during the project lifecycle. Typically diagnose the problem in the define/measure phase and as the project matures, do keep evolving the hypothesis..
We need to understand the logical flow of the process to get a clear view of the steps and process as a whole. We should describe the process using a structure called the happy path of hand offs. A Happy path is a set of steps performed on a transaction when everything goes right. A step is the largest possible set of activities before a hand-off is required to another person or team.
Add a new Process. Name the process as per your requirement.
A new line item gets added.
Best Practice Tip:
Click on the Diagnostic Map button to start adding the process steps:
You will get redirected to a blank Diagnostic Map page. Click on the ‘+’ sign to add a step. Click on the ‘>’ to show / hide the left panel
Use the edit icon on the top left of the step to add comments or to modify the step entered.
The delete link allows you to delete that particular step. The left and right arrows can be used to shift steps around.
Best Practice Tip:
Reviewer's Tip: This is the most important section of project on Open Orbit, so it is critical that users understand how to model it. It would be a good idea to spend some time with a new user to they understand the concept of happy path. Users also tend to get lost in trying to replicate the complex visio structure. The idea is to keep the happy path simple and diagnose the process in simple large chunks rather than complex visio steps, where the crux of the problems tends to get lost .
Once all steps are created, the next stage is to make “connections” from these steps to the metrics, causes and solutions shortlisted earlier with the help of the algorithm. This will enable the creation of the diagnostic map, as well as the Fishbone diagram. Also, we will be able to gather a visual representation of the bottlenecks and root causes at each step
Let us connect the corresponding metrics, causes and solutions to the relevant step by a simple drag and drop method. Click on the Diagnostic Map button and expand the Metric-Cause-Solution to show the list selected earlier in the Diagnostics section.
Click on the highlighted area to expand and collapse the list.
Simply drag and drop from this list to the main panel to build connections with steps or to the panel below the main section to create connections with the whole process.
These connections can be edited to capture additional data like priorities, actual & target values and whether the causes are controllable or not. Click on the edit box in the tile highlighted below to add more data against the selected Metric / Cause or Solution.
Now this diagnostic map provides a complete picture of the process steps, and metrics, causes and solutions of interest, in just one snapshot.
Best Practice Tip:
Reviewer's Tip: It is critical that the reviewer verifies the logic of connections of Metrics / Causes and Solutions. For example metrics like Touch Time should ideally be measured at a step level, however overall out metric like Customer Satisfaction can be measured at a process level. This will completely depend on the project and the process being modelled. Same is applicable for the Causes and Solutions. Reviewer should also ensure that all connections have priorities selected, these can be changed at a stage if required and most importantly detailed comments are recorded for each connection. This is important as Causes and Solutions are deliberately high level and therefore critical that the project records their thinking on why the particular tile has been selected and connected.There should be a good balance between step-level and process-level connections. Connections and data against each of these connection will play an important role in the output artefacts like Fishbone / Performance Gap report etc..
Based on these inputs the tool is able to also generate a Fishbone diagram - a visual mapping of the causes selected, categorised by type of cause. It is a very handy tool to represent the root causes analysis of the project. The more accurate your inputs, the more useful the generated fishbone will be.
On the process model tab, click on the “Fishbone” button to generate the Fishbone analysis:
The DIAGNOSTIC MAP & Fishbone are visual representations to identify pain points and areas of improvement. These are available to print and can be taken to the stakeholders for discussions and decisions. You can always come back and modify the diagnostic map of your process.
Best Practice Tip: Ensure all selected causes are connected to the steps or process in the Diagnostic Map and prioritised (H/M/L) to show up correctly on the Fish Bone.
Reviewer's Tip: Please check for the coverage and penetration of causes types and that all branches are adequately populated.
We now come to the third and final analysis tool – the performance gap report. So far, we have not had to provide any actual data on the metrics. For example, we may have said that “wait time” is important at Step 3, but we have not specified what the current value or baseline is, nor what we want it to be as a target. We can do this by editing the connection of that metric. Once you have captured some baseline and target data you can generate the Performance Gap Before report, which answers the simple question “where is my biggest problem”. It plots the gap between baseline and target, as a % of the target, and sorts in decreasing order.
First we will need to complete the data entry. Go to Diagnostic Map, from the Process Model tab. Click on the edit button on the left top corner of the metric tile connected either to the step or the process.
Enter data and click on update. You can also enter data using the “data collection report” on the project menu. It provides a faster, grid-like data entry option that is useful once the visual layout has been created on the diagnostic map.
Use the Grid Edit or Edit button to enter data:
After you have completed the metric data entry you can generate the performance gap report. Click on Baseline Vs. Target Report from the left panel.
Select the process from the drop down and click on search:
The Baseline Vs. Target Report is generated as below. You can use the download option below to extract the data in excel, or edit to change priority
Similarly, you can generate the Achieved Vs. Target Report and Before Vs. After reports.
Reviewer's Tip: Its is recommended that data is entered for all metrics. In case target is not available use a recommended performance threshold. Also, there will be situations when metrics are not measured, have a plan to initiate tracking of these metrics wherever possible. A popular management mantra: “ If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Improve It”: Peter Drucker .
All projects need tracking and Governance; therefore, we have designed some of this and built in the Open Orbit tool. This enables practitioners and project leads to track project diagnostics and project tracking related items all at one common space. It eliminates the need to maintain multiple trackers and audit logs. There are various features on project tracking that can be accessed in the Project Administration section of the tool. This section provides the ability to track project stages, status, dates, actions and notes. The section can be configured by your Super User to suit the requirements of your organisation. It can potentially simplify and replace other project tracking mechanisms like spreadsheets, registers and standardised status reports.
This sections contains the following:
Project Outline primarily contain all features related to overall outline of the project and it important for Project Charter elements.
Stage Tracking provides for tracking of stages of the project based on the methodology selected in the above section. The slippage and actual duration gets calculated automatically based on the input of planned and actual dates. They have a RAG status and this report can also be downloaded in excel.
Project Checklists depend on the stage and also on how your Super User has set up these standardised activities. Super user can upload templates against each of these prescribed tasks to be performed and the project owner can download and upload the completed templates. You would not require to maintain project artefacts and supporting templates in drives or presentations. The slippage and actual duration gets calculated automatically based on the input of planned and actual dates. They have a RAG status and this report can also be downloaded in excel.
Solution Checklists are free-format activities for you to create and track through to completion. It is important that this section is completed as it allows you to break down the selection high level solutions to smaller action items, thus making activities easier to complete and track. Create and monitor the action plan of Improvement. Learn from other action taken and rate your action for future reference. Track completion and progress and download to excel at anytime.
Click on Add New Item to create a new action.
Click See Action Taken to see action taken against the same solution as your project but other others within your organisation. This allows you to learn from others experience and collaborate and share best practises. This in turn will save time for the project lead as they will not need to reinvent the wheel. Click on Submit after entering all the relevant data. A new line item gets created. You can down load all of this in excel.
Best Practice Tip:
Project Notes: Leave Project Notes for reviewers and peers. No need to track activities and discuss project related matter on emails.
Reviewer's Tip: Its is recommended that the Project Tracking section is complete as it may really help negate Non Value-Add tasks performed by project leads on governance and tracking. The tool simplifies project tracking and also inculcates collaboration by means of adding project notes or tagging and learning from solution actions. If this section is managed well you can easily generate improvement plan reports and project charters. Some of these reports can be customised to meet your organisations needs, we shall cover these in other modules. .
Best Practice Tip: Congratulations! You have completed a holistic analysis of a challenge your business is facing. You are now ready to present your findings and recommendations to your stakeholders. We recommend you follow this approach to maximise use of the tool and minimise the need to translate all this good work into a slide pack – this itself can save you hours of re-work and also keep all the analysis in a re-usable and standard structure.
So far, we have seen how to set context – or provide map coordinates – to the GPS algorithm; then create a symptom-cause-remedy hypothesis; then build a happy path of hand-offs and then pull it all together into a diagnostic map. Open Orbit is a place to think, and you are allowed to change your mind! At any stage in the analysis, if you feel one of these choices should have been different, you can make the change without negating the work done till that point. The algorithm simply picks up the new data and starts adjusting its recommendations from there on.
The information entered on the diagnostic map can also be used to generate the Fishbone diagram and the Performance Gap report. These are the core diagnostic tools in Open Orbit, and will help you save significant time and effort in taking your project through to a point where improvement actions can be debated and agreed between stakeholders.
The tool contains many more features, to help with collaboration between users and to enable project tracking and reporting. These will be covered in separate training modules.
You can also view a short video that will help you navigate the tool better: Open Orbit Tutorial Video
We hope you found this module of Open Orbit training informative and useful. Algorithmic guidance for process optimisation is a unique and leading edge approach, and we wish you every success in using this technology and deriving business benefits from it. Open Orbit, where Clever Meets Simple!