3.2.3 How to use system and process analysis?

Table 1 gives an outline of when system or process analysis works best.

Think over the following points and try to answer these questions according to the operations in your organisation!
How do new products, technologies and services develop in your sector?
Which factors or factor constellations typically drive radical innovations?
How can the role of different actors or actor groups in an innovation system be determined?1

Notes and key points for system and process analysis2

You can perform a system analysis using of the system analysis diagram which is a tool that systematically illustrates the process flow from the supply side (or input of resources), to the transformation of throughput of product or services, to the output side for final quality verification and release to the customer. This diagram helps to identify interrelationships of major tasks, work phases, and opportunities for improvements through the use of feedback loops at the organisation and the customer levels.
Below, in the table 2 you can see the most important symbols of the system analysis tool which are used to identify the different flows of your company.

Table 2: Standard symbols of system analysis

The procedure of the system analysis:

  1. To identify the different blocks of the system analysis diagram, interconnected, and with internal and external feedback loops added. To define the different sub systems and those items which connect them together.
  2. The blocks are designated to contain processing or requirements information, consequently you have to describe and plan how your system is drawn up.
  3. Using the completed System Analysis Diagram as a guide, you will be able to explore potential problem areas and process improvement opportunities.

You can see an example of the model. Please click for more information.

According to the example above please prepare a system analysis of your own company! Don't forget to use symbols (information flow, material flow, sub-system)

The finalised system analysis acts as a support tool for companies as it allows them to analyse critical points in the key processes. Planning process analysis can highlight malfunctions and at the same time can help in rationalising the operation of the company. SMEs (small and medium enterprises) that use system and process analysis are able to optimise the planning of their innovation activities.

The procedure of the process analysis:

From table 3 you can see and memorise the most useful symbols of the process analysis process.

Table 3: Standard symbols of process analysis flowchart

The use of process analysis can help your organisation, to visualise the product and information flows. Keep in mind, if you can identify a process, you can see immediately the possible timing and periodical mistakes. If the diagram shows the points which are most crucial then you will be able to improve the effectiveness of these points.

The structure and details of the flowcharts will differ depending on their use. For example, they may contain only the major steps or show all the events of the process, or they can also present the participants in the process (deployment flowchart).

The procedure of the process analysis:3

  1. As a prerequisite activity, a facilitated team develops a process flowchart at the activity-level for the process selected. In order to create a process flowchart please follow the following steps:
    • The team facilitator assembles a team whose participants thoroughly understand all aspects of the process. They determine the overall scope of the process flowchart and they identify the starting and stopping point.
    • Next, participants identify all major process steps and the sequence of completion. They use symbols and connecting flow lines (see above) to show process activity and sequence. The facilitator uses a whiteboard to start drawing the flowchart. The participants assist the facilitator in drawing and connecting all process steps in the correct sequence.
    • Finally, they verify the symbolic flowchart for accuracy and they date it.
  2. The facilitator displays a set of standard process analysis questions. The team reviews the questions, adds, deletes, or revises questions to fully cover the process to be analysed.
  3. Using the finalised list of questions, the team discusses all activities in the process and provides responses to the questions.
  4. Finally, the facilitator asks participants to recheck all responses, makes final revisions, and dates the list.
  5. The information serves as an input to a different process, as it used to be, a logical next step for the team.

You can find some examples of process analysis in Graphic 1. If you click on the blue boxes of Graphics 1 you will see an example of process analysis.

Why don't you sit down with the team you are working with? Select a team facilitator. Using a whiteboard draw a flowchart of a process that you are having problems with. Follow the points listed above and decide on the corrective actions to take to resolve the problems!

After the flowchart, the facilitators displayed a set of questions that cover all the processes discussed in the workshop. In the table below you can see the questions and the responses to them.


1 www.eawag.ch/organisation/abteilungen/cirus/schwerpunkte/innovationssystemanalyse/index_EN
InnoSupport: Supporting Innovations in SME. 3.2 System and Process Analysis. 2005