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Discuss Process improvement with your team

GUIDE TO PROCESS SUCCESS (1/8)

Succeed with you process improvement plan

New to business processes? Polishing up your knowledge? You’re in the right place. This is a step-by-step guide to reaching the full potential of your businesses process improvement plan. 

If you already have basic business processes in place, you can use the guide to validate and update your current processes. With the correct approach, you will achieve a very productive process improvement plan.

Below we have listed all of the key steps for you to take on your journey to producing a powerful process improvement plan. It’s important to note that it isn’t necessary to go through these in a linear fashion. If you’re already comfortable with the basics you might want to go straight to your pain points. However, we highly recommend going through the entire guide, we’re certain it will prove highly insightful and resourceful.


Table of contents

  1. Introduction to process improvement
  2. Prepare account and create users
  3. Make a process hierarchy and a process blueprint
  4. Appoint, nominate and educate process owners
  5. Present process mapping to all colleagues
  6. Review and map processes
  7. Stabilise your processes
  8. Maintain process focus

We have also produced a video providing an overview of how to setup process improvement for your business for those who prefer that format:

 

“For improvement to flourish it must be carefully cultivated in a rich soil bed (a receptive organisation), given constant attention (sustained leadership), assured the right amounts of light (training and support) and water (measurement and data) and protected from damaging.”
– Stephen Shortell (Professor at Berkeley University, California.)

What is a business process?

A business process explains what tasks are done in your business and how to do them. It consists of:

  1. An “output” or “outcome” which describes what the process should lead to or provide.
  2. Activities clarifying who is responsible for doing what. One activities output provides the input for your next activity. Each activity also has an output.
  3. Work Instructions describe how each role should provide output for each activity.

What is the difference between a project and a process? A project is a one-off task. Processes are continuous actions. You can, therefore, think of the process as a chain of activities, performed by different roles that, together, produce the desired outcome.

With this background, the process is a useful language when many people are required to work together. The process creates the common view of work that enables the individual to understand what he or she should be doing, what the others are doing and what the systems do. The crucial point is that the process is explicit. Undocumented Processes do not exist.

Document your processes clearly and with practical use in mind. This ensures consistent quality and provides a baseline for improvement.

Three questions to solve your process improvement plan

To make this language a reality and create a basis for continuous improvement, then you must answer three questions for your organization:

  1. How do we communicate our way of working?
  2. Which method do we use to ensure that we execute correctly every time?
  3. How do we improve continuously?

The purpose of this guide is to help you to answer these questions by ensuring that:

  • You link all processes and strategies. Here a ‘process hierarchy’ helps to identify the processes which support your customer experience, both directly and indirectly. It also shows how your processes fit together to provide a comprehensive view of your business model.
  • Each process reflects reality. Each process needs a clear ‘process owner’ with the mandate and responsibility to implement and improve the process.
  • Affected colleagues are included in the mapping process and work instructions.
  • You continually ensure that processes are implemented and followed up on.
  • Errors and ideas are collected, analysed and lead to continuous improvement in process and work instructions.
  • The improvements are maintained – even when key employees leave you.

The guide goes through each step on your way to success with processes.

To succeed in-process work, it is critical to involve colleagues as early as possible. They will only take full ownership if they themselves – or their close colleagues and managers – have helped to develop the processes and work instructions that they use.

With this background, the process should begin with senior management and quickly involve as many employees as possible, following the flow as described in the guide.

Finding a balance between centralised and localised processes

Balance your process improvement plan with centralised and decentralised processes. Centralisation leads to ignored processes. But, localisation leads to duplication and inconsistency across the company.

With this said try to localise process work as much as possible. Work instructions created by people who do the real work reflects real behaviour when carrying out processes. The central team’s job is primarily to safeguard standards, frameworks and the quality of work. The central team also trains and supervises the process owners who do the actual process mapping together with selected colleagues.

What should be managed at which level?

To manage centrally To manage locally
Process hierarchy Cross-functional processes
Organisational roles Process examples or “blueprint”
Forms Processes and work instructions
Editors Tasks

References:

You can read the next step of our guide, prepare accounts and users to learn about how to setup your Gluu for your business.