Managing an enterprise or a small business unit with a process oriented approach is always a hit. From decades, companies of all forms – small, medium and large have benefitted when systems are in place. Case studies of successful corporate stories have formed the essence in developing key content areas of study at leading Business schools, the world over.
These practices have in turn been renamed as Process improvement or standard operating procedures or practices. Well known companies like GE and Motorola have come up with a more scientific reasoning which is famously referred as Six Sigma.
Fig: Process of Employee Engagement & Involvement
How should you start the Process?
Fundamentally, when starting a process management strategy, you should think about 3 important factors like Bottlenecks that slow down the operations, Risky activities which can be avoided, areas where customers or clients are in contact and finally activities which can add value to the organization.
A new innovation in this area is lean – which is basically to avoid unnecessary flow of activities. To avoid the unwanted is the mantra these days.
When solving process improvement issues, always think about the gravity of the problems and what is the priority level to be given. This is based on urgency of the issue. Finally, see the current scenario and status of the problem – whether it is worsening or will worsen in the medium or long run. This is essentially to get a hold of your problem.
Bottlenecks and Implementation Issues
Incidentally, even after so much research, available material and much debate, there is still a gap between implementation and expectation when it comes to quick fixing of process issues. Somewhere, down the line, small and medium enterprises are missing the boat of hitting the target and trying to adjust with the present situation. They are whiling away time and postpone the process of planning and designing these kind of methods.
If you look at the tools, most of the operations, management teams are not able to identify which are the right technologies to use at specific needs. This brings to limelight how this major function is misunderstood and in some instances - ignored. The problem lies partly with the top management.
Key Tools to start with!
Simple tools like Excel can make a huge difference. You can build charts, graphs, develop metrics and arrive at some sort of a figure when analyzing results in Process improvement methodology.
Further, there are techniques like brainstorming which might be used and quite familiar to many but don’t apply as a technique. This is a powerful tool to unite a team, share ideas to improve models or company processes. At the end of a serious discussion, 4 to 5 ideas might be ready.
Emerging industries should embrace change
It is time for dynamic industries like Startups to at-least start believing in this area as an important tool to tighten your strings. Creating the right framework, or a structure right at the start gives a huge impetus of going in the right direction in the long run.
I have observed that, many employees do not take ownership of the process or their piece of work. This is the root cause of many issues. This proves a point that, when employees do a self-appraisal of their own work – then they discover their own mistakes. However, people need to be open and flexible for any changes. Otherwise, even though many tools and processes might come but it might go utter waste.
BPO companies have to some extent have focused on process and quality. Thanks to GE for marketing this very well and believing this method. In india, GE Capital started with Six sigma approach by first training their employees in-house and sponsoring them for external training programs. Slowly, results started flowing, millions of dollars got saved and soon other companies followed. It is a classic example of leveraging the need and creating the environment in the right way.
If you look at industry wise requirement, no sector or area can be undermined and left-out where you can ignore this method. Simply put, when there is no tool is deployed, you can see the process leakage, in-efficiency and slowness in success rate of any organization.
These days, margins and profitability is keenly observed by top management. Hence, it is high time to look at best business practices like ISO 9000 or Six sigma or Kaizen to be evaluated as early as possible.
Evaluation of alternatives
It is better to see if a particular set of tools are most closer to your industry. In this case, you might need to consult a third party for evaluation. Since, management consultants are trained to understand your pain problems, it is highly recommended to outsource this part of the work to experts.
There have been many cases of shortage of skilled resources for developing the right programs. Hence, it is also mentioned in various research works that, employing certified consultants who are able to provide metrics will be most useful in this aspect.
Let us start a journey of starting a process oriented mindset first. When you think in this way, you are actually taking the first step towards your personal and professional career, indirectly helping the organization in your thirst to drive excellence.