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Telling the Story
Storyboards are useful project planning tools that illustrate the steps involved in the project. A storyboard provides a detailed outline of everything that happens or occurs in each step, and a combination of different storyboards provides a detailed outline of the process.
Storyboards highlight missing tasks, reveals problems, and complications. This allows the project team to make changes and rearrange tasks as needed before the project advances to the execution phase.
Making the required changes in storyboards provides much scope for applying creativity and brainstorming. This also allows involving all members of the team, providing an opportunity to herald team bonding and unity. Such an approach allows storyboards to transform the usually dry and boring process of planning to an interactive and fun experience.
Examples of storyboards transform dull and passive data into lively and dynamic entities, and remain the most effective way of communicating and comprehending concepts. It also serves as useful tool to educate others about the project.
The scope of storyboards extends much beyond its use as a project planning tool. It also serves as a good project tracker to highlight the status and progress of the project.
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Good examples of storyboards in project management are Six Sigma storyboards, used to depict the progress and the improvements made by the process improvement project. Such storyboards make explicit the different tools used in various stages to define, analyze, and improve the process problem.
Typical Six Sigma storyboards are based on the DMAIC methodology with each storyboard describing issues, risks, learning, and activity within each step, or Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Joining the separate storyboards together in order provides a distinct flow in the DMAIC format.
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Sample Storyboard of a Call Center
A good example of a storyboard is a DMAIC initiative to improve customer response time in a hypothetical call center.
The “Define" storyboard of a hypothetical call center maps the process flow and lists critical to quality (CTQ) issues and core business process. The process flow chart makes explicit the people responsible for each activity, the customers of each activity, and the stop and start stages.
The “Measure" storyboard aims to present data that reveals the type of defects, and metrics such as call volume and cost per call, to compare performance results within the desired state and determines the shortfall from expected standards. The data usually finds presentation in tables, graphs, and charts. A sample table and a corresponding bar graph lists call volume and cost per call sorted by region, employee, month, time of day, number of callers who did not receive a reply, and number of callers who called up more than once. This facilitates making quick comparison to the extent of compliance or deviance from the accepted levels for each employee.
The “Analyze" storyboard aims to use the process map and the illustrations from the earlier two stages to determine the root causes of defects and opportunities for improvement. The contents of this storyboard include items such as:
- Comparison graphs and flow charts to illustrate the deviance from the desired state.
- Charts that show variability in agents processing time compared to the ideal state.
- Bar graphs or pie charts that show the individual employee wise percentage of calls-types.
The “Improving" storyboard aims to provide solutions to fix the issues and roll out an implementation plan for the same. This may include illustrations on aspects such as:
- Dividing the team into separate functions, and making an analysis on possible productivity of each team member based on an historical analysis.
- Listing training and development plans.
- illustration of a new standardized work flow map.
The examples of storyboards related to "control," aims to devise ways to keep the process on the new course. The storyboard lists out the methods used to achieve this. Some methods include documentation, devising a monitoring plan, and illustrations on modification of systems to confirm to the new requirements.
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- MindTools. “Storyboarding." http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_77.htm. Retrieved 08 March 2011.
- Six Sigma Storyboards. http://www.my-project-management-expert.com/six-sigma-storyboards.html. Retrieved 08 March 2011
- "Aligning Call Center Agent Goals with Customer Desires." http://www.isixsigma.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=761:aligning-call-center-agent-goals-with-customer-desires&Itemid=156. Retrieved 08 March 2011.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Mike Sansone