How far should you go with your process efforts?

How far should you go with your process efforts?

Every business wants to perform better and it’s important to keep changing and challenging the ‘way we do things around here.’

However, real success comes from aligning the organisation, its processes, and the people and roles they perform so that performance is planned and managed in an integrated way.

It’s obvious that most organisations start down the road to becoming process-based from different starting points and triggers to motivate them.  Then, as these process efforts gain traction two questions need to be answered:

  • How far should these process efforts go?
  • What is needed in order to achieve your goals?

All too often, improvement initiatives take on a life of their own, without considering the overall objective.  However, it is important at some early point in process-based management journey, to focus on the strategy of the organisation.  The strategy provides direction and the filter for the organisation.  It identifies how the organisation:

  • Competes in the marketplace;
  • Is different from competitors;
  • Provides value to your customers; and
  • Allocates and targets scarce resources.

To keep this in perspective, as you move along the process journey, make sure you can answer these questions:

  • How do your process efforts support the strategy of the organisation?
  • Is a process focus necessary for your organisation to achieve its strategy?
  • Are targeted, successful process improvement projects what you need to achieve?
  • Do you need to manage the ‘white space’ between processes to achieve your objectives?

A focus on strategy will help you determine what you need to achieve, and how process-based your organisation needs to be.

Our goal at Ascent Management is to provide you with specific insights so you can help your organisation make progress on the road to Process Based Management.

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

 

October 15, 2013 0 comments Read More
A process assessment can focus your organisation

A process assessment can focus your organisation

In each blog I outline the different elements of process management needed to enable your business to see how a process based management style can help your business perform at its optimum level.

For those of you who follow me, you know I believe strongly that if you are on the process journey, you need to periodically assess where your organisation is on that journey to make adjustments, so you can achieve your strategic objectives.

By assessing where you are, you will be able to:

  • Use your strengths to communicate your progress to the rest of the organisation, in particular to key stakeholders.  This helps develop and spread the process mindset.
  • Engage key people in the assessment so you can continue to build and strengthen the support for the process journey
  • Use the feedback of an assessment (which identifies roadblocks, gaps and missing steps) to aid in developing action plans.  Engage as many people as possible in implementing the action plans to broaden the participation in the process journey.
  • Realign your efforts to the organisation’s strategy.  You can do this on an ongoing basis through management of the deployment plan; this provides another opportunity to engage stakeholders to validate the alignment.

Anyone implementing a process mindset (for instance: PBM, BPM, CI, or Lean/Six Sigma) without an assessment is working at a disadvantage.  If you don’t know where you have been, and what has worked or not worked, how can you plot a successful course forward?

For a minimal investment of time and money, an assessment can add tremendous value to your process journey.  It will ensure the organisation is focusing on the right things at the right time, and help align its process journey to the strategy.

I 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.

 

September 27, 2013 0 comments Read More
Launch process efforts based on areas that matter

Launch process efforts based on areas that matter

Most organisations have process efforts underway. However, if you’re going to start a process effort in your business it’s important to focus on the areas that matter. A key question to ask is:

‘How do I choose which area to address?’

Where process improvement has started, generally the answers are:

  • Area of support – ‘we identified a process where we had support for an improvement initiative and started there’;
  • Manager driven – ‘the manager of the function wanted to improve his area, so we focused on a process there’;
  • Available data – ‘we had plenty of data supporting this process, so we addressed that process’;
  • Identified problem – ‘we have had problems getting invoices paid on time so we focused on the payment process’.

It makes sense to launch an initial initiative in an area that has support and where you feel it may have a chance of success.  But you need to quickly focus on areas and processes that matter. We use two main criteria:

  1. Do you need to improve the process to address initiatives identified in the strategy of the organisation?
  2. Is the process customer facing and therefore improvement of the process will favourably impact customers?

To utilise these criteria, the organisation needs to have identified their portfolio of processes. With that list of processes completed, you can develop a classification framework to be able to categorise your processes.

At Ascent Management, we believe there are many compelling reasons for a process-based approach to improving business performance. I am always available to discuss 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 to start you on the road to launching process efforts in your business.

September 12, 2013 0 comments Read More
The Objective of Process Improvement is to Improve a Process

The Objective of Process Improvement is to Improve a Process

When our people, usually frontline employees, in our organisations start talking about the need to improve a process (or processes) we need to step back and ask:

  • Why are they looking at improving processes?
  • What are they trying to achieve with process improvement?

Here’s why they may be thinking in this way:

  • There is little shared understanding of how things are done, which is leading to challenges, more likely frustrations, in getting work done correctly and on time;
  • Customers are unhappy, complaining about service issues which require the process to be changed for the better;
  • Managers are grappling with business issues that really require processes to be improved;
  • Another improvement project is causing problems in the process and these cross process issues need to be looked at and resolved.

The outcome of resolving each of these would be an improved process to better serve customers. The results could be improved quality or cycle times, or lower management costs.

Golden Rule – never undertake a process change effort if it will not result in an improved process. 

That sounds obvious but there are too many examples of process efforts which took too long and did not result in a process being performed better.

The process improvement project needs to be focused, with the targeted outcomes clearly identified upfront. For the most part, the process champion is more concerned with achieving the results than how you got there.

Keep it simple and focus on achieving the results needed quickly.

Our goal at Ascent Management is to provide you with specific insights so you can help your organisation make progress on the road to Process Based Management.

There are many compelling reasons to look at adopting a process-based approach to improving your business’ performance. If you want to learn more about how our approach can help you identify the pathway to improving your business, take our FREE five minute quick assessments on Process Improvement or Process Based Management.

I look forward to discussing with you all the ways in which we can provide value-adding solutions to secure the future of your business.

August 29, 2013 0 comments Read More
It’s important to focus your process efforts on the customer

It’s important to focus your process efforts on the customer

All of our companies are in business to provide products and services to our customers.  And yet, how many of the employees in your company actually focus on your customer?  Our traditional functions tend to focus on the task at hand, be it accounting, IT, HR or even Sales and Operations. You may even have a function called Customer Service, with a main role of focusing on the customer.

But isn’t it everyone’s job to focus on the customer?

A significant shift in mindset occurs in a process-based organisation due to the focus on the customer. By managing the end-to-end processes that actually provide value to your customers, you align the view of the employees to the expectations of the customers.  The jigsaw puzzle below identifies the concepts that link together to drive Process Based Management.

Key changes needed to become a process-based organisation are:

  • Promoting a shift in mindset and culture to a process focus;
  • Managing and improving end-to-end processes;
  • Integrating diverse initiatives into a process-oriented approach;
  • Developing and measuring process based performance;

These are all centred on building process capabilities to understand and meet customer expectations.

By managing the processes that actually provide the products and services your customers want, you shift the emphasis in your company onto the customer.

Functions alone do not meet customer expectations; it is the management of your end-to-end processes that allow you to meet your customers’ expectations.  That is why a process focus is so powerful.  Those companies that focus on managing end-to-end processes that provide value to the customer will outperform their competitors who do not.

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.

I am happy to discuss ways in which we can provide value-adding solutions to secure the future of your business. Alternatively try our FREE five minute Process Improvement or Process Based Management quick assessments and see how easy it is to start improving the processes in your business.

August 15, 2013 0 comments Read More
Four easy ways to make your business better using processes

Four easy ways to make your business better using processes

How much better do you think your business could be?  What if you could deliver more value to your customers, save time and reduce costs, but still deliver a high quality service or product.

At Ascent Management, we help businesses achieve success 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 efficiency and effectiveness.

Before you start managing and improving processes, you need to consider the following:

1.      Manage the How

Processes are ‘how’ you provide products and services to your customers. If you do not understand and manage your processes, you are not managing ‘how’ you provide products and services to your customers. It is difficult to get better without a process focus.

2.      Focus on the Customer

The interaction with your processes is how customers judge your business. As consumers, we interact with companies every day. You decide which ones are good, and which provide bad service. Bad service is mostly from not understanding and managing processes. Good service is managing your processes to focus on your customer.

3.      Requirement of Competition

You need to be able to describe what you are doing as a process. If you can’t, you don’t know what you are doing. Competition requires that we get better and better at what we do. We can only do that by managing and improving our processes.

4.      Become an Employer of Choice

As an employee, would you rather work in an organisation where the focus is on managing and improving processes to provide customer value, or where the focus is on managing functions and protecting turf?  You know the answer.

We are so used to managing functions, but functions do not provide services to customers: cross functional processes do.  Our challenge now is to develop the approaches and structure to better understand and manage our processes. Manufacturing has made great strides in managing processes, it is time for the service sector to follow similar approaches and get better at what we do. If we don’t, our customers will continue to migrate to those providers who give better customer value and experience, by managing their processes.

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 and Process Based Management

August 1, 2013 0 comments Read More
People and Processes

People and Processes

How do you identify whether it is the process, the performer or the performance system that is the cause of below standard performance in your organisation?

We need to understand each job in a process context. Jobs and roles exist to support processes. Often jobs or roles evolve in ways that don’t efficiently or effectively support the processes they are supposed to. The link between jobs and processes is critical and often a major issue affecting performance.

Because they are most visible, the performer is almost always the default cause of poor performance. This inevitably leads to a request for a training solution. However, if we take a look at all aspects of the work to be performed we could usually identify that there is something else that is, or is also, the problem.

For training to be the problem, we would expect that performers don’t know how to do the job. If they have been well trained and did the job well previously then something else must be causing the poor performance. Solving these other problems is usually quicker and more cost effective than a training solution.

The performer is at the centre of a performance system. The performer is expected to take some action to produce a set of outputs.
• For each output, there is a set of inputs
• For every action and output, there is a set of consequences
• To complete the process, the performer must receive feedback about the output.

Consequences are an important component of the human performance system. People do things that lead to positive consequences. People avoid things that lead to negative consequences. We can increase desired behaviour with most impact when the consequences are positive, immediate and certain. At the other end of the scale, the least impact on undesired behaviour is negative, future and uncertain. However, it is surprising how often this approach is used with limited effects.

There are many other questions we need to ask. The key is to think about process and performance system issues that can affect performance, rather than simply focussing on one solution targeted on the performer.

Here’s to a high performing week for everyone and a Happy Mother’s Day.

Regards
Peter Westlund

May 11, 2012 0 comments Read More
Customers and Processes

Customers and Processes

Why should Customer Expectations be a consideration in the design of our business processes?

After all, our processes are internal to be managed and developed as the business sees fit.

If we think about Customer Expectations, they include product or service quality, price competitiveness, timeliness of delivery and overall satisfaction. These are all driven by the performance of our processes. High cost processes result in uncompetitive prices; high non-conformance or waste rates are often associated with poor product or service quality; and there are other examples.

We need to design, perform, manage and improve business processes to deliver our customer value proposition and optimise our overall performance.

A key issue is that we tend to manage processes within functional boundaries. This can lead to excellent performance in one functional department, say sales, but well below optimum performance in production where capacity is unmatched to demand. The reverse could also be true.

The secret is to identify the extent of each end-to-end process and manage each stage of the process so that customer needs are met at a sustainable level.

Of course, there is often significant interaction between processes for products and services to be delivered. Customers do not see most of the processes within the organisation, only the product or service output that results. Increasingly, customers become frustrated by poor delivery or service levels which are the result of an invisible process performing badly.

As managers, we should give serious thought to the simple question:

How easy are we to do business with?

Process-based management is concerned with understanding and meeting Customers’ Expectations for products and services from our businesses and making sure that end-to-end processes are monitored, measured and improved so that the overall results for the business are optimised.

If we have a customer-centric approach then we must also have a process-centric approach and this means elevating our thinking about the place of processes in strategy and business model design.

Here’s to a process-focussed week in business.

Peter Westlund

May 3, 2012 0 comments Read More
Customer Focus

Customer Focus

How well do you rate your business for its focus on meeting customers’ needs?

Satisfying customer needs is a key consideration in the design of any Business Model, and any Business Process.

In Business Model design, one of the questions to be asked is “How well does the Value Proposition target the Customers’ ‘jobs-to-be-done’?”.

The ‘jobs-to-be-done’ approach is an applicable way to think about the problem of matching your Value Proposition, that bundle of products and services your business offers, to customers’ needs.

Alex Osterwalder, the creator of the Business Model Canvas, talks about customers’ expectations of business Value Propositions being ‘Gain Creators’ and ‘Pain Relievers’.

For the Value Proposition to match the customers’ ‘jobs-to-be-done’ requires a fit between the ‘Gains’ sought by customers from dealing with your business and how your Value Proposition creates these ‘Gains’, the ‘Gain Creators’.

There also needs to be a fit between the ‘Pains’ being experienced by customers and the ‘Pain Relief’ your Value Proposition offers.

Like the Business Model Canvas, it is a very visual way to think about your Value Proposition.

• What are the ‘Gain Creators’ for your Customers?
• What are the ‘Pain Relievers’ for your Customers?
• How well does your Value Proposition rate in delighting your Customers?

You may wish to view the video “Business Model Canvas Explained” from business model generation.com on my Business Model Innovation and Improvement webpage for an explanation of a visual business model concept that facilitates discussion and a shared understanding of business models.

Wishing you success in your business plans this week.

Regards

Peter Westlund

April 24, 2012 0 comments Read More
Welcome to My First Blog

Welcome to My First Blog

Welcome to the first Blog from my Ascent Management website.

In 2011, I acquired Ascent Management as the brand for my Management Consulting and Business Mentoring services. Interim Executive Appointments remains the brand for interim management appointments.

I invite readers to take the time to review the pages on the website and to use the Contact page to request a phone or email response, a meeting or seek further information.

I also invite any comments you may wish to make on my Blogs. I intend to Blog, usually weekly, on thoughts relating to Business Model Innovation and Improvement, Process-Based Management, Business Performance Change and Development and other business improvement ideas.

There will be continuing developments to the website including additional content and I look forward to announcing these through the Blog.

For now I would like to recognise the work of Liza Shulyayeva and her business Techalite Web Consulting in helping me to design and develop the Ascent Management website.

I wish you all the best for a successful week in business.

Regards

Peter Westlund

April 15, 2012 0 comments Read More
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