Process Me, Process You, Process Everyone
03/28/2008
Posted by: Brandon Ling

Process design is often neglected by businesses. We all have a process for accomplishing our tasks, but we often don't pay them any attention.

Process improvement

Some people will wonder ‘What process?' because their actions are automatic, and they don't actively think about what they are doing. Process design and process re-engineering are tools that enable us to improve the operations of a business.

Businesses commonly throw people into their new jobs and either expect them to hit the ground running, or they expect them to take a while to get the hang of things. There are very few people who can seamlessly integrate themselves into a new position and run with it from the get go.

Alternatively, waiting for a new person to learn the ropes and reach a level where they are doing their job smoothly can be unprofitable and frustrating, but tolerable.

There seem to be three common ways of training a person for a position:

  • We can dump them in and they doing things however they see fit
  • We can baby-sit them until we're confident that they've grasped it; or,
  • We can show them how and they survive on the notes that they took.

Having a new person do their job how ever they want will result in people doing the same job differently. The lack of consistency means that it will be difficult for another person to pick up where the first left off in the event that they are away sick, on vacation, or any other reason. The result is that work slows down or maybe even stops, until the person returns.

In the event that they have left the company, then a new person comes in, and either does the same job their own way or goes through a time-consuming process of figuring out the first person's methods.

Over time, with the former option, there will exist several different ways of doing the same job. For example, there will exist several different ways of organizing important documents depending on who did them. It would be like a library that had one shelf organized by title, another by author, and another by price - it would be insane!

Baby-sitting a new person as they learn the job is extremely time-consuming and results in the baby-sitter's job not getting done. It's unprofitable, however, the new person gets trained in doing the job exactly the same way as the first person. However, we often keep how we do our jobs in our heads, and we don't have a document to describe it. Also, we seldom think about how we do our jobs which means that training someone else can take time while we try to figure out how we actually do our jobs so that we can teach them.

Another common method is to show someone, perhaps a couple times, how to do the job and then leave them to it. They may take notes in case they forget something, however it's a waste to have each new person take notes on doing the same job. It's like reinventing the wheel and it takes time for someone to have to show each person how to do it. Once the new person starts doing their job, after their minimal training, if something should go wrong or if they forget something, the new person will come calling for help, taking us away from our jobs.

A common problem when a business doesn't utilize process design or process re-engineering is that the same mistakes and situations keep recurring. We seem to relive the same emergencies until we either become quite adept at dealing with them, or we don't, and our business' reputation suffers.

What if there was a better way? What if there was standardization between everyone who does the same job? Anyone could pick up where another left off with out missing a beat. Time and money would be saved because people entering new positions would be easily and effectively trained in their jobs.

This is what process design and process re-engineering enable. The wheel will no longer be reinvented. Rather, it will be created and improved over time to run more smoothly and effectively. Looking even larger, process design can be used to create a replicable model that can be rolled out for expansion. Process design and process re-engineering, quite simply, makes life easier for everyone involved.

Category: Business Systems

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