The ability to respond to market changes and technological evolutions is what sets apart business leaders from those just getting by in the marketplace. While some become mired in outdated practices or cumbersome procedures, truly agile organizations can pivot their processes with the latest developments to continue to deliver excellent products and outstanding customer experiences.
That kind of responsive stance only comes about through a culture of process excellence that permeates every level of the organization.
Process excellence isn’t just a management strategy though; in order for an organization to innovate consistently the drive for continuous improvement needs to be embedded in the DNA at every level.
By engaging teams from the front line to the board room, business agility can become the norm and drive success across the organization.
Making use of the experts
Many process initiatives stall because of the level of resourcing required and the scale of the task.
Capturing the information about an organization’s existing processes is a daunting challenge, let alone building upon them for continuous improvement. Expecting a small team of process professionals to gather and grasp the nuances of the business practices across the breadth of the organization is unrealistic, and can lead to lengthy delays as they reiterate on procedures that they don’t fully understand or have captured inaccurately.
The better way to achieve this is to empower the people who know the processes best to capture them themselves. Leveraging their innate knowledge ensures not just a better spread of the workload but a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the processes can be recorded.
What’s more, they will have insight into the actual work done, not just the official procedures, and can capture the real story behind the organization’s practices. Once those processes are captured, keeping teams in the loop ensures they have a voice in process improvement, identifying weak points, non-compliance, and archaic practices, and offering innovative solutions for the work that they know best.
This, of course, requires a process platform that’s both accessible and intuitive.
In order to activate business teams in process excellence, an organization needs to utilize a tool that removes technical barriers and time-consuming flowcharts, reducing the felt cost of process capture and making it simple for staff to find and provide feedback on the procedures they use.
If they can record what they do in simple language and interact with it through a few simple clicks, engagement can become part of their day to day work and continuous improvement is no longer an extraneous ‘nice to have’ but an integral part of the business.
Investing in governance
While the people on the front lines may be the best ones to capture their processes, they can lose sight of the value of the exercise if they’re not invested in it. Creating a sense of ownership ensures that those responsible for process management recognize where they can contribute, and how.
This can be achieved by assigning staff as process experts and owners.
Process experts are the most knowledgeable ones on the particular procedure. They’re the practitioners, and the best ones suited to overseeing the evolution of the procedure. Typically they will undertake major edits of the business processes and handle feedback from the teams using the process.
Process owners are those responsible for the outcome and work with the experts to ensure the process is both as effective and efficient as possible.
These people are not full-time process managers, but practitioners who leverage their expertise to contribute to the organization’s process excellence. Recruiting and encouraging staff to take these roles is handled by process champions who fly the flag of continuous improvement within the business.
While they may not be actively engaged in creating or refining processes, they focus on keeping the practice of process excellence visible within their department, business group or division. By spreading the load of process management across roles like this, organizations can scale process initiatives without expending significantly more resources and create greater ownership throughout the business.
Leading with enthusiasm
While business teams and staff on the front line have a vital role in process improvement, their engagement needs encouragement and endorsement from the top. Senior management needs to champion process excellence and resource it accordingly in order for the rest of the business to take notice.
By giving the drive for continuous improvement a suitable profile within the organization, executive sponsors ensure that the efforts required ‘on the shop floor’ are taken seriously. The willingness of senior management to endorse and encourage good process management empowers the champions to build better practices within the organization and justifies the investment of time and energy by the front line staff.
Business agility doesn’t just happen. It has to be supported by a framework of robust and ever-evolving processes that engage and grow with every level of the business.
By empowering the people that know the procedures best, supporting them with enthusiastic champions and encouraging them from the top, a business can leverage an enormous breadth of knowledge efficiently and effectively, and move to meet the market at any point.
Find out more about how great process management supports business agility in our whitepaper: Fostering innovation – Continuous improvement is the gateway to business agility