Balanced pebbles on a great sunny beach. Hopefully this represents stable processes pretty well!

GUIDE TO PROCESS SUCCESS (7/8)

Stabilise your processes

Once a process is mapped, it must be used. The encounter with reality makes tacit knowledge explicit so that the process can be made easier to understand. At this stage, each process is executed as mapped and documented. Revisions are then made until the until documentation and reality match to stabilise your processes.


Process improvement steps

  1. Introduction to process improvement
  2. Prepare your business collaboration tool
  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

How to ensure your process map is accurately aligned

It’s about finding opportunities to use the process in practice. Use of the process means that employees, with the proper roles, make use of process maps, work instructions and any tasks to complete the process. They follow their own recipe, so to speak.

This is how you stabilise your processes:

  1. Find out when the process will run again.
  2. Execute the process by following your flow and work instructions in detail. Note down all problems and ideas using the comment feature in Gluu.
  3. Review your colleague’s observations and mark whether you agree or disagree.
  4. After every 3-4 process runs you should update your process and work instructions to reflect your learning.
  5. Attempt to execute processes exactly as documented. At this point, only exceptions will result in comments.
  6. Your process is now becoming stable.
  7. Let new, or uninitiated, colleagues execute the process to test whether instructions are clear.

In this phase, you will make a series of improvements – this happens almost automatically. However, the main purpose of this step is to stabilise the process by aligning your documentation and your practices.

Example of how to stabilise your processes

Account Managers map their “Client meeting” on a Friday. The coming week, each makes a virtue out of following the flow and the instructions when they’re having client meetings. The account managers consider process revisions before and after each meeting. They also see their colleague’s comments and mark what they agree or disagree with.

The process owner filters the comments and incorporates the four account managers’ input in process revision. They continue this way until there is no more need for editing. Then the process is stable.

Execute your processes with your work instructions every time. It is when people think they know something by heart that they start forgetting important tasks and controls.

Checklist to stable your processes

  • Execute the process flawlessly three times (no need for adjustment).
  • Employees from each role in the process can confirm that it now reflects reality.

Why make incremental improvements with your process map

Once the process is stable then you can begin to make more profound improvements. Now it is about eliminating redundant activities and automating where you can.

How to improve your processes over time

Your previous process runs will most likely have given you a list of possible improvements. You can now start implementing those that don’t require further analysis. Once you have harvested this “low hanging fruit” then a structured process improvement workshop can help you to go deeper.

This is how to run a process improvement workshop:

The process owner goes through each activity in the process while participants comment directly in Gluu. For each activity, it is necessary to consider steps or tasks that are:

  1. Messy, problematic or difficult.
  2. Possible to automate.
  3. Creators of the activity output (to the system, next activity, etc.) – whether the task is directly contributing to the result.
  4. Easy to measure.
  5. Then participants spend 5 to 10 minutes reading, replying to and labelling each other’s comments.
  6. The process owner then summarises findings and might give the activity a particular colour if it requires more improvements.
  7. Solve the most important problems with an A3 template.

Workshop 4 – Process improvements

Output You experience the outcome of observations and input when the circle is closed, and improvements, as well as the need for corrections, are identified.
Participants Everyone who has worked with the process, as well as other stakeholders.
Agenda
  • Review of comments, ideas, etc.
  • Identification of opportunities for improvement.
  • Evaluation.

Example of a process improvement workshop

A manufacturing company uses 5S, PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) and A3 for process improvements. Employees introduce problems, issues and ideas for activities as they execute. The more experienced employees put labels on important observations.

Sort observations by importance at monthly improvement meetings initiated by the process owner. This helps the team to select in-depth using “root cause analysis”. The improvements hereafter lead to adjustments of process flows and work instructions.

Thus, the processes provide an overview and Lean tools are used to go in-depth for problem-solving.

Checklist for process improvement

  • Completed one A3 template per issue.
  • Priority improvement list.
  • Process and work instructions changed.

This is the second to last chapter in our Complete Guide to Process Success! You’re almost there, just a little further and you’ll be a process mapping master. Our final chapter examines maintaining your process focus. You’ll learn how to sustain the development of your business over time.

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