The role of process advocates

The role of process advocates

At any given point in time, an organisation with a number of different process efforts underway realises that some of the efforts are disjointed and need refocus. Just as all the functions or departments in the organisation have a structure and are managed, the process efforts underway also need a structure and need to be managed too.

But where do you start?

One of the first priorities is to identify the process advocates in the organisation. These are those individuals who understand and believe in the power of managing processes. They may have experience from other organisations or from projects they previously participated in. The key is in harnessing these individuals belief in, and passion for, the power of a process approach.

With these people identified, form some of them into a group to identify what the organisation needs to do to attain a process focus. This group is well positioned to build a business case for the organisation to begin its journey to more of a process focus.

Ask yourself; what types of tasks would that group undertake?

They could:

• Assess the current state of process efforts in the organisation. What is happening, and how successful are these efforts?
• Identify process concepts that need to be broadly understood across the organisation for a process focus to be successful.
• Socialise process concepts to targeted people in the organisation. These are decision makers, business managers and others who need to understand the value of a process focus if there is any chance of improving process performance.
• Develop a business case identifying the value to the organisation of moving from the current process state to more of a process focus. This will be unique to each organisation, and would address the organisation’s strategy and how a process focus could help achieve strategic objectives.

If this group of advocates can define the need and develop a picture of how a process focus can help the organisation, you have the opportunity to formalise their efforts into an implementation plan and launch the organisation on a structured process journey. Without a coordinated approach, your process efforts will continue to be disjointed and not achieve their full potential value for the organisation.

At Ascent Management, we believe there are many compelling reasons for a process-based approach to improving business performance. Learn more about how our approach can help you identify the pathway to improving business by taking our two FREE five minute Process Improvement or Process Based Management quick assessments.

May 8, 2014 0 comments Read More
To manage your processes you need process owners

To manage your processes you need process owners

Every business can perform better, deliver more value to customers, save time and reduce costs. Process Management can help your business achieve this success by aligning the organisation, its processes and people to perform at the optimum level.

Managing the processes of an organisation requires a different perspective to managing the organisation’s projects or functional departments:

• Senior leaders need to create the structure and process-based mindset for employees who work in the
organisations processes (the Process Teams, Process Team Leaders and Process Performers);
• Everyone needs to recognise that managing a process is not simply a one-time process improvement project; it
is an ongoing focus of those who work in, and on, the process;
• A senior executive who is responsible for the process needs to be accountable for managing the process’s
performance. In a similar way to managing the organisation’s functions, an organisation managing its
processes effectively has an executive responsible for managing each process. Most call that executive the
Process Owner.

What are the key responsibilities of the Process Owner?
• Identifies the vision for the process; asks how the process needs to evolve to meet changing business and
customer requirements?;
• Determines process performance targets for those that work in the process;
• Monitors, together with the process team leader, the actual performance of the process, compared to the
targets;
• Obtains the resources that are required for those working in and on the process to be successful;
• Where required, approves action plans identified to improve or modify process performance;
• With other process owners, manages and resolves integration issues across all processes. Integration
management is a key to avoid creating ‘process silos’.

Without a Process Owner, you have a project approach to process improvement, when what is really required is the responsible management and continuous improvement of the process.

At Ascent Management, we can help your business when:
• Best-practice strategic analysis and business planning is required;
• Operational and management improvements are demanded to generate superior results;
• There is a need to make a measurable performance improvement to become more competitive;
• A practical course of action is needed to capitalise on growth opportunities.

Learn more about how our approach can help you identify the pathway to improving business by taking our two free quick assessments Process Improvement or Process Based Management

 

April 16, 2014 0 comments Read More
What are the key attributes for successful process improvement efforts?

What are the key attributes for successful process improvement efforts?

My work over the years in process management has enabled me to identify a number of key attributes that contribute to successful process improvement efforts. I have grouped these into the following categories:

Strategy and Focus

This is the key to selecting the right processes for improvement. Organisations have limited resources and need to be focusing on those process areas that will provide the most value to the organisation. Most of these should be customer focused. The focus of process improvement efforts should be driven by and aligned with the organisation’s overall strategy.

Structure

A structure is needed to provide the support and approaches to enable your process improvement efforts. Process improvement efforts require the appropriate support structures (process owners; process teams etc) and a consistent approach or methodology; without these, it is difficult to sustain ongoing improvements.

Training and Employee Involvement

Your employees need to be involved and engaged to improve a process. They know how the process works, what the issues are, and have a good idea how it could be improved. Process improvement is new to most people so they need to be trained.

Communication

Employees at all levels need to know why you are improving processes, and the results of those efforts. Communication is pivotal before, during and after the efforts. Everyone is trying to determine the impact on them (WIIFM), their department and the organisation.

Impact

You need to measure the impact of your process improvement efforts; it is critical to show that the project:

• Improved quality

• Reduced cost

• Reduced cycle time

• Improved customer satisfaction

• A combination of the above

Measures

As processes are understood and improved, ongoing measures need to be put into place to provide for the ongoing management of processes. Measures tell the organisation how processes are performing and where future improvements need to be focused.

I have found that in my work that these attributes provide a way for organisations to assess their process improvement efforts. The value of knowing how well process improvement is deployed in an organisation has led us to develop a new quick assessment just for Process Improvement. Please take the time to try our FREE five minute Process Improvement or Process Based Management quick assessments and find out for yourself how Ascent Management can help improve your business’ performance.

April 3, 2014 0 comments Read More
Never do BPM without Process Improvement

Never do BPM without Process Improvement

There is so much discussion around the various aspects of Business Process Management (BPM) but from my perspective, the key to BPM is process improvement.  Everything you are trying to achieve in BPM is based on improving and managing the processes in the organisation.  All the rest of what you are doing should be in support of that goal.  From that perspective, we provide the following guidelines:

  • Never just map for the sake of mapping.  This is a critical point.  Always map a process as part of an improvement effort.  Just mapping a process does not result in improving the performance of the organisation.
  • Solve business issues; you map and improve a process to resolve a business issue.  Solving problems will build support for your process efforts.  Managers are interested in results.  If you can improve results you will get their attention.
  • Build a high level understanding of the key processes in the organisation.  Define where the six to ten key processes start and end and how they connect.  This does not take very long, but will become an ongoing basis of discussion around processes in the organisation.
  • Keep it simple to start with.  The organisation needs to walk before it can run.  Introduce new tools and approaches as they are needed, not all at once.
  • Focus on customer facing processes first.  We see many organisations trying to improve background processes and expecting to see major improvements only to fall short.  Target those processes that have direct interaction with your customers and you will see significant results.

We can help your business achieve success and be the best by aligning the organisation, its processes, and the people and roles they perform so that performance is planned and managed in an integrated way.  We call this Process-Based Management and by following simple steps, your business will deliver superior results for those managers seeking to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

There are a number of ways Ascent Management can provide value-adding solutions to secure the future of your business. Or alternatively try our FREE five minute Process Improvement or Process Based Management Quick Assessments.

 

March 19, 2014 1 comment Read More
Success means you need Executive Buy-In

Success means you need Executive Buy-In

One of the concerns often talked about Process Based Management, or any other major initiative, is that of Executive buy-in.  Yes, it is important to the success of your process initiative, but the key to buy-in is to understand what is involved.  Before someone, be it an executive or performer, willingly buys-in to the process journey, they need to understand:

  • Why should we do this?
  • What is involved?
  • What are the benefits?

In other words, what’s in it for the organisation and me?

A key starting point is to highlight any process successes that have occurred in the organisation.  Work with others to identify process success in the organisation and develop stories and dialogue around these successes.  Then, if you are starting to get similar questions to these examples from your executives, you are making progress:

  • “John in purchasing was raving about some kind of improvement project you helped him with.  Tell me more.”
  • “How did our response time go down so much last month?”
  • “Jane in HR has been talking about process measures.  What is that all about?”
  • “In our last Executive Meeting, the GM of Supply Chain was talking about how a process focus had allowed them to improve the performance of the supply chain.  How can we apply that approach to our area?”

Executives need to see the impact of process efforts and the best way to reinforce that is to highlight process successes.  Create the demand for process by showcasing the positive results of your process efforts.  Then add the key concepts the Executives need to know, and you have the beginnings of the mindset change you need to move a process approach.

I am available any time to discuss ways in which Ascent Management can provide value-adding solutions to secure the future of your business or alternatively try our FREE five minute Process Improvement or Process Based Management quick assessments.

March 6, 2014 1 comment Read More
Set your Process Improvement efforts up for success

Set your Process Improvement efforts up for success

Too often, process improvement efforts are not well launched and do not follow a consistent methodology.

As you progress down the road towards process based management you gain an understanding of the specific insights needed to help your organisation perform at its optimum level.  Let’s now focus on what needs to be done before you start your process improvement project.  Here are some items to consider:

  • Identify the goal and objectives of the process improvement project before it is launched.  The goal should be tied to either an improved customer outcome or an objective in the strategic plan.
  • Identify the sponsor of the project and assign accountability to that sponsor.
  • Setup a process improvement team with representation from all the activity areas impacted.  The team size should be 6-10, with a capable team leader.
  • Make sure the process improvement team has enough resources to be successful.  This could include a facilitator and scribe to support the improvement efforts, as well as enough time commitment of the team members to the project.
  • Provide the right level of training to the process team.  The team leader should have some experience in process improvement.  The other team members need some base level of understanding of the approach to be followed, and skills in relevant tools and techniques.
  • Identify upfront how you will measure the success of the project.  The measures should be specific and goal driven.  For example, reduce cycle time from 10 days to 1 day.
  • The team needs to have a clear understanding of the objective of the process improvement project, as well as some accountability for the successful outcome of the project.

If you provide this level of preparation before you launch the process improvement project, you will significantly increase your chances of success.

There are a number of ways in which Ascent Management can provide value-adding solutions to secure the future of your organisation or alternatively try our FREE five minute Process Improvement or Process Based Management quick assessments.

 

February 20, 2014 0 comments Read More
Are your organisation’s process efforts successful?

Are your organisation’s process efforts successful?

How do you determine if your organisation’s process efforts are successful?  Well, it depends on what your organisation’s objectives are.  In this note we summarise four key objectives of process improvement activity.

1.  Individual Process Improvement:  There are many approaches which organisations use to improve their processes; Six Sigma, Lean, Workout are examples.  To have an impact, you need to monitor and report on how these efforts impacted performance.  If you are successful, you should see a combination of:

  • Reduced cycle times;
  • Reduced costs;
  • Improved quality;
  • Improved customer service.

2. Continuous Process Improvement:  Moving from process improvement projects to continuously improving processes requires proactive management.  Although not technically difficult to put in place, these efforts take time to implement, mainly focused around embedding a process mindset in the organisation.  To successfully manage and continuously improve your processes, Process Teams and Process Owners need to:

  • Frequently monitor actual process performance compared to target;
  • Solicit and act on feedback from those impacted by the process;
  • Implement changes that need to be made so the process can perform as designed.

3.  Processes enabled by IT Systems:  Information Systems are proven enablers of organisations’ processes.  This is often difficult to get right, but can be done in a moderate time frame.  We will not detail the best approach to this here, other than to add that the organisation needs to understand and improve processes before the information systems enable them.  If your organisation’s process efforts are tied to a system implementation, you will know your process efforts are successful by:

  • Monitoring that the process maps are at the right level of detail to be supported by the software.  If not, get to that level.
  • Monitoring your process measures as you implement the information system so needed changes can be made to achieve organisational targets.  The process as enabled needs to perform as designed.

4. Process Based Organisation:  If your organisation’s efforts are geared to becoming a process based organisation, this will take time, and is the most difficult because you are changing the management approach and mindset of the organisation.  To be successful, you need to determine how you are progressing.  This is accomplished by periodically assessing your efforts to determine:

  • What you are doing well, so those efforts can be reinforced;
  • Where there are gaps in implementation, so that action plans can address these.

Whatever the objective is, identify what success looks like for the effort required.  Tie the performance measures of as many employees and teams as possible to the results to be achieved.  Only then can individual and team performance be aligned to process objectives.

We believe there are many compelling reasons for a process-based approach to improving business performance.  Learn more about how our approach can help you identify the pathway to improving business by taking our two free quick assessments on Process Improvement or Process Based Management.

February 6, 2014 0 comments Read More
Communicate your process success stories

Communicate your process success stories

As organisations move along the process journey, communication is critical to the success of process projects.  Generally, process management is new to many people so it is important to identify how it is impacting the organisation and more importantly how it will impact them in the future.

There are a number of key areas to be communicated:

  1. Process vision:  What is management trying to achieve with process efforts? There will be many misconceptions, so be clear and consistent in your message.
  2. Successful projects:  Be specific on the results of successful improvement projects.  For example, how did the project impact timeliness?  (Waiting times were reduced from 30 days to 10 days).  How was quality impacted? (Customer call backs were significantly reduced).  How were costs impacted? (Reduced costs from $10 to $1 per transaction) or customer satisfaction (Reduction in complaints).
  3. Impacts:  Identify where there have been process successes.  Point to specific areas or projects and get testimonials from those that were impacted.
  4. Customer feedback:  Solicit customer feedback about the improved processes and broadcast that feedback.  There is nothing better than to provide the process performers with specific customer feedback on how their process impacted the customer.
  5. Front line impacts:  Provide examples of where process changes made a job easier.  Most organisations have too much to do and not enough time.  Indicate how the process changes that were made were able to address this reality.
  6. Performer feedback:  Gather and promote positive feedback from those that work in processes.  These are co-workers who have a huge impact on how the process approach will be accepted.

The goal is to reinforce process focussed behaviour and create a positive buzz around the process efforts in the business.  By identifying these success stories you start to build the level of acceptance of the process journey and begin to instil the process mindset across the organisation.

There are a number of compelling reasons to use a process-based approach to improving business performance.  To find out more about how our approach can help your business to identify the pathway to improving business take our FREE quick assessments on Process Improvement or Process Based Management

December 16, 2013 0 comments Read More
Measure your processes to manage process performance

Measure your processes to manage process performance

At Ascent Management we help business achieve success and be the best by aligning the organisation, its processes, and the people and roles they perform so that performance is planned and managed in an integrated way.  We call this Process-Based Management and by following simple steps, your business can deliver superior results for those managers seeking to satisfy customer expectations and improve efficiency and effectiveness.

The first step for an organisation on the Roadmap to Process-Based Management is an understanding of, and improvement to, their processes and it becomes critically important to develop measures of process performance. A significant gap we see in most organisations is a lack of process performance measures. Why is that?

  • Organisations have focused on Key Performance Indicators and other operating measures which tend to focus on departments, functions and the organisation as a whole;
  • Not many organisations have a clear view of their key processes; without this view it is difficult to identify measures of process performance;
  • In many instances the data for analysing process performances is not available from existing information systems;
  • No one is responsible for developing and monitoring these types of measures.

What can you do about this? Here are some suggestions.

  • Process measure development should be part of any process improvement project and a key component of the drive towards Process-Based Management;
  • If you do not have a high level view of the core ‘value chain’ process(es) in the organisation, develop one;
  • Show on that high level view the measures to manage that process and develop an initial set of measures.  Now you are in a position to begin to have a discussion about that process and its current performance;
  • Assign responsibility to someone (or preferably a process team) to gather the required data for the specific process and publish the process measures on a periodic basis (as often as is required to see how the process is performing);
  • Assign responsibility to someone (like a process owner) to monitor the process measures and take direct action to improve the process when the measures indicate that improvement is needed to meet performance targets.

Take the time to discuss with us ways in which we can provide value-adding solutions to secure the future of your business.  Or alternatively try our FREE five minute Process Improvement or Process Based Management quick assessments.

November 20, 2013 0 comments Read More
Use your process focus to prioritise and align your initiatives

Use your process focus to prioritise and align your initiatives

Every organisation I work with has many projects and initiatives underway.  These projects range in size and complexity and they all require resources and management attention.  They can be placed into a number of buckets:

  • Systems projects to install new or upgraded software;
  • Initiatives to improve customer interaction and satisfaction;
  • Process improvement projects targeted at specific areas of concern;
  • Approaches for improving strategic, tactical and/or operational performance.

The challenge for an organisation is to:

Prioritise – ensure enough resources and management focus are dedicated to each project;

Align – so that initiatives do not compete with each other but are linked in an integrated way.

The one common element of all these projects and initiatives is there impact on processes and process performance.  Using a process approach helps to align and prioritise projects and initiatives.  Process owners must:

  • Develop an inventory of all the initiatives and projects underway (this may already exist if you are managing your project portfolio);
  • Identify which high level end-to-end process each initiative supports (use your high level process relationship map, if that doesn’t exist develop a list of 6-10 high level end to end processes);
  • Identify how each of the initiatives supports the strategy of the organisation (if you have tied your process performance target to the strategic measures you have a great starting point).  If there is no link then what is the driver for the initiative?
  • Identify any overlap or conflict between initiatives or other duplication of effort.

Through this exercise you will have a real insight into your portfolio of projects which should be keys to achieving your strategy.  It is also a great first step to managing your portfolio of processes and should become part of your ongoing process approach.  Use what you have learned to prioritise your projects; start with a project that is either a key to your strategy or that significantly impacts your customers.

There are many compelling reasons for a process-based approach to improving business performance.  Learn more about how our approach can help you identify the pathway to improving business by taking our two free quick assessments on Process Improvement or Process Based Management.

Alternatively please give me a call.  I am happy to discuss ways in which Ascent Management can provide value-adding solutions to secure the future of your business.

October 31, 2013 0 comments Read More
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