The term “process driven” has been equally fashionable and misunderstood in the last decade. Actually, a process driven organization is a quite simple idea that can be easily explained to small business owners:
Think of the company and what the company does, not as individual activities, but as collaborative activities carried out by US as a team.
A process is a sequence of activities performed by different individuals in a coordinated and collaborative way in order to:
- Execute the organizational strategy (whether it’s a company, a government agency, an NGO, etc.) and achieve its goals.
- Satisfy customers (buyers, citizens, etc.), shareholders, employees, and other stakeholders.
- Carry out the mission.
Consider an example for a medium or small business.
Imagine you have a sales team who do their best and bring sales to your company. Basically, they work independently. When they require technical support, they ask for it. Proposals are sent via mail. Comments are added via email or telephone. The sales team handles dozens of proposals at the same time and they remember the status of each one.
Does it work? Yes. Does it work optimally? Probably not. What limitations does this strategy have?
- We never know how many proposals we are dealing with, and how many each vendor has assigned, or at which stage they are.
- Sometimes we miss opportunities because we “forget”. We do not answer in time so the client ends up buying to the competitors.
- Maybe we often don’t know which one is the final version of a proposal, which the client finally approved. We can invoice incorrectly, creating a bad image, spending unnecessary resources to correct it.
- If a salesperson leaves the company, invaluable knowledge will be lost.
- It’s almost impossible to find an old proposal (e.g. to reuse it). It could be in a local PC, or worse, in a mailbox.
Do you suffer these issues? All derive from the same problem: managing a sale as something isolated rather than seeing it as a collaborative and centralized process. A process driven strategy addresses these elements and provides specific solutions. (To continue with this example, this post describes in detail how process-driven sales work).
Steps to implement a process driven organization
Relevant elements to convert a medium or small company into a process driven one:
- Conviction: the CEO and management team must not only support but also be convinced that this transformation is essential and communicate it to the rest of the organization. Employees should not see it as an imposition, but rather as an improvement, a key factor in achieving the goals of the organization and thus ensuring its sustainability.
- Identify the relevant processes. Not all processes are important, not every activity is a process and not every process is worth to be automated. It must balance the benefit with the effort. For each process, think of which business objective it supports, how it relates to other processes and who participates in it.
- Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that allow you to know if a process is running as desired. There may be long-term indicators (1 year back, six months, etc.) or real time indicators (last hour, last day). Each indicator should have acceptable ranges predefined.
- Automate processes with a BPM Suite (such as Flokzu), which provides a single solution to centralize all data and documents relevant to the process. With the tool you can also control the KPIs, such as the maximum time at each stage. This step is the most notorious because it will replace the individual tools (personal mailbox, files in the PC) with a single software for the entire organization to share knowledge, documents and collaborate at different stages of each process.
- Use the KPIs to make continuous improvements.
A process driven organization is a simple concept, but very important to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of a business. It’s perfectly applicable to small and medium business. It doesn’t require radical changes or major investments. It requires management commitment and gradual incorporations. By automating processes you can replace individual tools with a single software for the entire organization to share knowledge, documents and collaborate at different stages of each process. Performance indicators (KPIs) are the links that provide objective data about the processes in order to improve them.
You can also schedule a work session here to model a real-life process in your organization together