Waiter: “Sir there is an emergency. We have an enormous order of lasagne to be delivered to our regular customer. But the expert chef is not available. However the customer insists that he wants his regular order only.”
Manager: “But we can’t lose the order just because chef has not turned up. This way we will keep making losses by depending on him!”
Such scenarios are common in every line of business, wherein the results are subject to people executing the task. However, if there is a proper management of processes, such catastrophic situations can be easily avoided. Process management is having a standard way of performing the activities required for the organisation, to satisfy its customers and having a measurement system in place to monitor and control them. It enables the organisation to be process driven instead of man driven.
If the restaurant discussed above had a process driven approach for serving orders to their customers they would have not been depending only on one chef to fulfill the order. World’s top restaurant chain McDonald’s serves same type of fries all over the world. How is it able to have such control over the quality and taste of its fries? It’s not because everyone at McDonald’s are experts at making fries but, because they are managing their processes well across the globe.
Even the business excellence models like Malcolm Baldrige and European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) emphasises on effective Process Management system.
An effective Process Management System is a step wise implementation of following:
- Process documentation: In the above scenario if the process for making lasagne was documented then the current crisis could have been easily avoided. For an organisation to serve consistently to its customers, it needs to have documented all its processes, regardless of what type of industry it is. It provides detailed information about the process which answers 4Ws and 1H (What, When, Where, Who, How) about the process, providing process scope, process activities, duration, person responsible, performance indicators etc. Process documentation form an integral part of Quality Management System (QMS) implementation.
- Performance index: As critical it is to monitor the health of a human body, so is the health of any process that drives the business results. Performance needs to be measured and monitored at both the organisational and departmental levels to check the capability of current processes and deviation from processes or targets. The organisational goals are broken down to departmental goals and KPIs are derived for each process and monitored on regular basis.
- Appointment of process owners: Adherence and performance monitoring of each of the processes are assigned to its process owners. Process owners regularly monitor the process performance and are responsible for keeping the SOPs updated with improvements.
- Process Monitoring and Continuous Improvement: The adherence to process goals is to be monitored on continuous basis to detect any deviation from targets. Dashboards can provide real-time report on process performance. Process adherence is monitored by conducting regular audits which also helps to identify areas of improvement for the current processes.
These steps form the building blocks for Process Management. But once we have achieved them the Process Management System can be further improved using technology and automation.