Manage Key Business Processes for Quality's Sake
In business operations, there are many processes that exist to get the work done. First and foremost, a business greatly benefits from knowing which are key processes. One way to identify key processes is to ask: "what are our key products and services?" It is the processes that support creating key products and services that can reap the most reward with a little TLC. A focus on documenting, managing, measuring, and improving key processes as an ongoing organizational priority creates a shift in culture to one of excellence.
Processes will be very different depending on if you are manufacturing a physical good versus providing an intangible service. Regardless of industry, processes can and should be continually cared for. You may ask: "how would our business begin to focus time and energy on process management?" or "where do we begin?". Take a look below and read more to see how your business can get started on process management and improvement.
A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER IN PROCESS MANAGEMENT
PROCESS REQUIREMENTS: What does the organization, regulation, or other governing body require from the process? For example, if there are steps that are required by regulation, then the step must remain in tact. What do your customers, suppliers, or whomever is at the receiving end, require from the process? If there is a step expected by the former, then perhaps this step must remain in place as well. Once you've identified requirements, you are positioned to identify components or steps in the process that could be made more efficient or eliminated altogether.
PROCESS DESIGN: Is a step in the process adding value? Is a step in the process required? If the answer is no to both of these questions, this becomes a platform for improving OR redesigning your process. Even a few tweaks to a process can render worthwhile, desired results. This type of conversation can begin with leadership, management, or front line staff. Regardless of where the conversation begins, it can only be made possible by an organizational culture of continuous improvement and excellence where people feel comfortable to speak-up and provide valuable feedback. Also, once a process is changed, it must be managed and maintained.
PROCESS MEASUREMENT: There are inputs and outputs for any given process. What are your desired outputs? What is the ideal product or service experience? In order to manage the end result, there should also be in-process measures to ensure the process is functioning as expected. In-process measures provide incremental checkpoints to determine if things are running smoothly. For example, each step in a process could potentially have some form of metric that aligns with it. If the expected measure for a single step is returning substandard results, this would be an ideal place to make immediate corrections and discuss improvements for prevention. In manufacturing, these substandard results can become product defects. Typically, manufacturers will have quality control in place to prevent or quickly identify and correct errors when they do appear.
PROCESS IMPROVEMENT: Continuous improvement is an aspect of operational culture that must be built-in. Improvements do not just happen. Organizations must have a thoughtful, intentional method for pursuing process improvements. There are many ways to identify opportunities for improvement, and the most agile and successful organizations will have structures in place to be proactive in managing and improving key processes. Mediocre organizations will likely be reactive and static in their ability to manage their key processes making them less competitive overall.
At Elizabeth Warlick Consulting, we take pride in our clients and their intent to care for their key processes. With the proper tools and methods, we assist your business in identifying key processes, requirements, measures, and opportunities for improvement. Whether it is a one time session or multiple meetings to review and document your key processes, we can tailor an approach that meets your business need, budget and schedule.