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Posts Tagged ‘Process Management’

Basic process management tools and templates for breaking down processes into KPIs

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Organizational processes should be designed in such a way that they effectively enable the strategic implementation of corporate objectives. Successful execution of strategy demands well execution of processes from all perspectives. 

Processes that are properly understood and deeply rooted in the organizational realities will produce results that are reliable, easily controlled, and effectively managed. The documentation of processes allows for meticulous work to be conducted in relation to a company’s effort of architecting process frameworks and solutions. 

Moreover, process documentation is intended to accurately describe the landscape of a process, the activities included within that landscape, the standardized workflow associated with a particular process, and its current state by comparison with a desired one. Process templates generally reflect on the degree of process documentation within an organization. 

“Process templates are created to describe some aspect of a process, a process landscape, process flow, process solution or state. […] Process templates enable the capture and relation of process-centric objects within the same template or across multiple templates, each of which promotes its own view of a process.” (Von Rosing, Von Scheel, & Scheer, 2014, pp. 175-180)

With decomposing processes into KPIs, proper documentation that involves process description and the internal procedures should be in place. Meanwhile, process management tools such as process maps are consulted for a better perspective on the process itself. 

The basic process management tools and templates that can be used for an effective process design are the following:

1. Process description: The process description is a template that supports the organization in understanding the functionality of each process in turn. It is vital that the process description concentrates on the purpose of the process as a constituent part of operational activity rather than the steps in the process. 

The purpose of the process becomes a focal point around which processes are defined. This is especially important due to the fact that processes around which the company is currently organized may not be the most suitable for strategy. It is not excluded that the process description includes more than one purpose for a process in place. 

Purposes can be main or secondary. The main purpose refers to the strategic purpose that the process serves for the organization. Secondary purposes are the ones that are directly tied to the main purpose of the process; however, they have a more functional or operational focus that generally derives from the process steps or activities. 

Such a way of working with the process description not only helps to validate the linkage to organizational objectives but also leads to a more accurate distribution of KPIs. This will be measured by levels of organizational performance.

2. Process map: The process map is a process management tool “that shows input-output relationships among process dependent operations and departments and that documents in a step-by-step process sequence the activities that are required to convert inputs to outputs for the specific process.” (Hunt, 1996, pp. 8-10) 

A process map provides an illustration of organizational processes as well as the interactions between the main process steps. A process map is especially important as it helps identify the main inputs stepping into the process and the main outputs stepping out of the process, while reflecting on the “as is” or” current state” of the process itself. 

One of the most important roles of the process map is it helps identify bottlenecks in the process or waste that needs to be eliminated in order for the company to achieve process optimization.

3. Internal procedures: Internal procedures are a necessary tool in breaking down processes into KPIs and process optimization thereon forward. They also deliver a standardized template for capturing specific process information. 

Internal procedures provide a more detailed view of how processes are conducted for the organization as well as the Service Level Agreements instituted as part of the interactions with other processes in the organization. 

Internal procedures also provide a set of detailed steps on how to perform process tasks, which significantly aid process performance measurement through KPIs.

Those basic process management tools and templates provide a simple and cost-effective solution to breaking down processes into KPIs. If used effectively, they can deliver tremendous benefits, such as preservation of process knowledge, documentary evidence of process understanding, a framework for process performance measurement, and overall improvement of business processes over time.

Discover more about KPIs and how to develop a structured approach to measuring performance by signing up for The KPI Institute’s Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner course.

Leave your process-related problems to a rubber duck

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Imagine that you are at work and you’re faced with a problem which you think you cannot solve, and all your colleagues are too busy to help out.  Does this situation sound familiar? Have you ever tried asking for help from a rubber duck? If you haven’t, you should probably take a page out of an IT specialist’s book, as they use this method quite often.

The ‘Rubber Duck Debugging’ is an autonomous problem-solving technique, mentioned by authors Andrew Hunt and David Thomas in their book, The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master. The term refers to the way in which a programmer explains his code-related problems to a rubber duck. This process has the following steps:

  1. A rubber duck should be procured. It does not matter whether you bought, borrowed or made it. The idea is to have one.
  2. The little toy should be placed on your desk and you can begin talking to it, whenever you identify a problem.
  3. Once you’ve laid out the introduction, proceed to explain the problem without skipping any details.
  4. By the end of your explanation, you should have had a chance to rethink things and your duck will still be there, should you need it for further counseling.

While this may seem like a mere joke – and to a certain degree, the duck part is more or less for fun, there’s some truth to this. The point of this process is to force the user to rethink their approach and explain it to someone, who hasn’t the faintest, what their challenge entails.

By compelling yourself to break down the issue at hand in its simplest of forms, the inherent logic is that you will find what’s causing you to hit a rut.

Another way in which you can retrace your thought process is by thinking out loud. Researchers have found 2 major advantages for thinking aloud:

  1. It helps clarify your thoughts

When you start talking aloud or writing about your problems, you drive yourself to sequence all of the information you’re thinking about, which may enable you to gain new insight into your issues. This may also give you a better overall perspective over the matter.

  1. You may discover hidden correlations

This technique is most effective when you assume that your listener has little knowledge of your field or problem. When the other person has no familiarity with the topic, you start explaining everything in great detail, in order to give them a better understanding over the entire matter.

By describing the basics and then building up the concepts, your understanding of the subject deepens as well. You immediately start thinking about what you already know, because you are focused on helping the other party understand the topic.

duck

The bottom line

While many of us were warned by our parents, while growing up, to not talk to ourselves or our toys, as this may come off as peculiar, it would seem that in many industries, the day-to-day reality of things is changing old customs and worldviews.

This doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to cease talking to other people; simply put, if you don’t have someone to talk to and you’re in a rut, a rubber duck may come in handy:

  • It will never interrupt you, no matter what you are saying, and it will not break your thought flow
  • It will not mind the fact that you are always complaining to it
  • These cute yellow friends don’t talk to others, so there is no danger of gossip
  • They are always there for you when you need them

It is a fact that programmers are usually very good at solving problems, therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they invented and put into practice a useful & funny way to figure out solutions. With that in mind, the ‘Rubber Duck Debugging’ technique could be useful not only in the field of IT, but in other functional areas as well.

By having a little yellow friend at your side, you will be able to work independently more often, and you will not have to rely on your co-workers that much. You will end up finding out that you know much more than you had thought. So, are you ready to obtain your own rubber duck?

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