A clearly defined business process helps get things done because it is clear how it is done and who is responsible for it for a successful outcome.
If you focus on improving the right processes, in the right way, you can design your way to success! The advantages include:
- On-time delivery: smooth processes make our work easier so we can deliver products or services on time.
- Greater efficiency: inefficiencies are avoided by defining clear responsibilities.
- Better stability: the right processes create order in a company with lots of moving parts and people.
- More capacity: for our project managers, having process documentation and templates on hand frees them to focus on doing real work.
- Increased accountability: by mapping processes, you can see where the bottlenecks are and ensure that the people responsible have the right support or knowledge they need to achieve the result.
- Improved training efficiency: clear process frameworks help become part of a structured onboarding plan and reduce the need for internal training.
- Continuous improvement: by being proactive rather than reactive in identifying complex issues, you will be able to stay on top of changing expectations, new technologies, and be more competitive.
Sometimes, especially in an interdepartmental context, a persistent problem can create a lot of frustration and confusion. The time team members spend figuring out the answers to "what," "how," and "who" could be spent doing real work. We call this scenario "lessons never learned."
It's important to know that it's (really) easy to create inefficiencies with established workflows. But it's also important to quickly identify when you have a persistent problem.
If you find that the problem is too complex to tackle, then it's time to try introducing a process. That is why, here, you'll find the 5 steps to improve the processes of any area. They are: analyze, plan, execute, implement and maintain. Using a process design methodology ensures that you don't miss any important steps.
This methodology is based on the Plan, Do, Check, and Act (PDCA) cycle model for managing business processes.
Step 1: Analyze
a. Define the problem: What is the problem you want to solve? The real problem. You can be easily distracted by other surroundings but try to identify the real one.
b. Define the goal and purpose: imagine what you want your result to look like and list what is preventing you from achieving it.
- Goal: what you want to achieve
- Result: what you'll get
- Identify the input (initial status): information or material needed to start the process.
- Identify the output (final status): what you will deliver.
- Actors: participants in the process that are executing actions.
- Stakeholders: the people with a particular interest in the process.
- Owner: "Owner" of the process who has ultimate responsibility for performance in achieving goals and has the authority and ability to make necessary changes.
e. Define escalation: Define escalation point for exceptions and decision making.
Step 2: Planning
a. Alignment of actors and stakeholders: collect ideas from actors and stakeholders and find a solution.
b. Set the implementation time: Set the implementation time of the process so that you can commit to solving the problem within that time frame.
Step 3: Executea. Define action steps: collect ideas to create the most efficient and balanced approach for all actors and stakeholders.
- Define the necessary actions and the actors of each one. This is where you should sketch. For this, you can use different platforms for your documentation and the complements; these will become your lifeline to visualize the process flow solution.
- At this stage, it's really important to note that the process is created to aid workflow and efficiency. That means keeping up the action and reviewing the steps in detail! Note that processes should remove obstacles rather than add to them.
b. Alignment of the proposed situation: presents the actors, stakeholders, and owners of the proposed process. In this meeting, keep in mind that you must explain it, listen to your employees, and, then, adjust the process until all those involved reach an agreement on the solution.
c. Approval: once you receive the green light from the process owner, you can change the status of your document from "Draft" to "Approved." This now becomes the official documentation of the process that people must follow.
d. Define process KPIs: defines the KPI chart to track process performance. This is a key step to drive continuous improvement of this.
Step 4: Roll Out
a. Provides training: you should bring everyone involved together and present the approved process. Explain the steps and their role and responsibility to make sure everyone understands them.
b. Provide support and assistance: implement the process and guide the actors during its first execution. Although the process has been approved, you cannot neglect this step. It is important to ensure that the process is active. A rule that is not followed is a waste of time.c. Progress tracking: Now is the time to test whether the process has made the situation better or worse. The best-case scenario here is that the process is on track, the outcome is achieved, and everyone is adjusting to the new workflow.
The monitoring stage is a good opportunity to identify what could be improved. Focus on the questions:
- 1) Have you met the result?
- 2) Is the process being followed?
If the answer to either is no, then the process should be reviewed.
d. Consolidate and integrate feedback: That is, gather feedback from actors, stakeholders, and the owner. Then, update the process based on the feedback provided.
Step 5: Maintaining
a. Manage process adoption: Make sure the process is being followed. Even after a successful initial adoption, team members can easily forget or neglect the process, especially when there are multiple stakeholders involved. It is important to detect if changes are needed or if the process is no longer as effective.
b. Consolidate comments: Always take into account the comments of the people involved.
c. Make improvements: make improvements based on feedback and KPI performance report.
d. Maintain ownership: Make sure the actors, process owner, and stakeholders take ownership of their responsibilities and each plays their part.
Finally, keep in mind that good process management doesn't stop at launching. It is important that you create a culture of continuous improvement.