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Process Analysis for Continuous Improvement with Diabetes UK

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How Diabetes UK used an external evaluation to improve the way they managed donations.


The Business Analysis and Change team within Thales Cyber and Consulting Services provides expertise in areas that allow our clients to understand and address all aspects of business change, and the resultant transformation required. We provide consultancy to our clients in the design and implementation of change, including support to manage the impact of change both on processes and people. As part of Thales UK’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, and via the O.R. Society’s Pro Bono O.R. scheme, we provided business change consultancy to Diabetes UK (DUK).

The issues we faced

A significant source of funding for DUK comes from the public via methods such as regular donations, and participation in sponsored events. As the number of ways a supporter can donate has increased over time, so have the number of processes for managing donations. Currently DUK utilises a central office as well as local offices and representatives, and also utilise external support to meet the needs of supporter donation management. The development of multiple processes involving numerous teams within DUK has led to the need to review the current operating state to maximise best practice, and identify challenges to address to ensure that anyone who donates has the best ‘supporter journey’ possible.

The aim of this study was to provide an independent, external evaluation of the current processes involved in managing donations at DUK, as part of their continuous improvement programme.

The actions we took

The review was conducted using the following key steps:

  • The capture, documentation and review of existing processes;
  • Review of data collected by DUK;
  • Engagement with DUK team members and DUK supporters to understand and validate the captured processes, their utilisation and any observations made during the study.

Process Review

For each supporter journey, a supporter should be able to choose a preferred method of giving support, be able to understand how that method works, be provided with support throughout their journey and receive acknowledgement from DUK of their support.

To test this, each captured process was reviewed both on its own merits, and in comparison to the other processes. The processes were reviewed both from a DUK and supporter perspective.

Data Review

It is simple to produce and collect data and for this to become a routine process. The challenge is for this data to become valuable information that is utilised by, and provides benefit to an organisation in conducting its processes. To that end a review of sample data generated by DUK was conducted.

Process Owner Workshop

One of the most important elements of any change activity is engagement with those directly impacted. It is very important to engage with stakeholders to ensure they understand what is being done, why it is being done, and the impact (positive or negative) on them. Engagement and involvement at timely and regular stages generates a sense of understanding, involvement and support of the change activities.

The next step was to hold a workshop to engage with the process owners. The aim was to give them an overview of the study, its aims, what it was to deliver and how they would be involved. This also provided us the opportunity to share current work and observations, and gain answers to all questions that we had formulated at that point. Most importantly, this gave the process owners the opportunity to ask us questions and provide feedback on the study, including comments and corrections on the processes we had captured and assumptions we had made.

Supporter Workshop

It is recognised that not every identified challenge or area for improvement can be addressed immediately. Understanding the processes from both DUK and the supporter perspective allows DUK to understand which improvements will have the greatest impact, and thus support a prioritisation of improvement activities.

To continue the principle of stakeholder engagement in change activities, a workshop with supporters and DUK process owners was held. The aim was to review the supporter journeys with people who have actually experienced them, creating a sharing environment for supporters and a learning environment for DUK. As DUK also hold supporter focus groups, this was an opportunity to demonstrate a different style engagement workshop. 

Positive outcomes

It was recognised that the current processes do deliver their requirements, and it was obvious through engaging with DUK teams that there is a strong passion and desire to address challenges, improve services and provide the best supporter journeys possible.

The engagement with the team was a very positive experience. Everyone could see the benefit of the study and provided support on multiple occasions.

Recommendations were made to:

  • Simplify management of donation processes, utilising best practice and thus reducing the burden on key DUK teams and systems;
  • Review the value of currently collected data, and better ways of using it in order to enhance business performance;
  • Continue supporter engagement utilising the themes of the supporter workshop.

The recommendations made were received well and some were being implemented before the end of the study.

Negative outcomes

A significant element of business change is understanding the impact of change from all perspectives. This led to some recommendations understandably not being implemented. Some recommendations made to improve internal processes, while logical, could not be implemented due to the risk of negative reactions to change from supporters.  Similarly, a recommendation was made to combine two processes, but this would change the fundamental reason why the two separate donation methods were implemented. 

Lessons learnt

An external review of an organisation’s day to day processes can provide valuable support to continuous improvement. Any recommendation must be assessed on both its positive and negative impacts to all aspects of the business, and this forms the basis of whether recommendations should be implemented.  To that end, any change activity must involve the people impacted by that change throughout to ensure all change implemented provides benefit.


Page last edited Mar 30, 2017

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