Managing the challenges of process variations

Managing business processes is an exercise in reducing confusion and complexity, clarifying the essential elements of what your staff does, and improving those procedures to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness. That’s not always easy, though, when an organization spans different industries, activities, countries, or regions.

As the context of business changes, processes have to shift to match in order to meet disparate legislative or industry requirements.

For instance, a manufacturer of foodstuffs with production lines in several regions might face multiple different health regulations, packing requirements and even labor laws. While a standardized process would maximize the efficiency of operations across identical plant and product lines, it would not help meet differing requirements. Operations that couldn’t comply would be left to find their own way.

The challenges of handling process variations

Handling process variations like this are a challenge for enterprise process experts, often creating unhelpful complexity or resulting in process breakdowns as business units try to tackle the points of difference on their own. The outcomes of poorly managed variations range from inconsistencies and lost efficiencies to compliance issues and cost overruns. Typically, there are three ways an organization will approach variations:

  • High-level standardizations: These processes address only the broad activities, summarizing requirements at a high level. While they apply across the board, lack of detail makes them ineffective for guiding teams or users into all the specific actions required.
  • All-inclusive mega-processes: This is often a technical approach, and requires the documentation of every variant and point of difference in one single process diagram. The result is usually a highly complex and opaque document that is too hard for end-users to decipher and too complicated for process owners to contribute to.
  • Individual variant processes: This can become the default for large organizations, emerging when groups build their own process documents to capture the specifics of their environment. This leads to uncontrolled, siloed processes that can become out of step and introduce compliance issues, as well as preventing easy application of improvements or innovations across the wider organization.

There’s a better way

Nintex Promapp offers an effective alternative to managing process variations that escape the complexity of all-in-one documentation while capturing the sophistication and nuances of variants both on organization-wide and in individual cases.

Nintex Promapp’s process variation add-on allows process experts to create a single standard process, then apply variations that can be viewed from the central process page at the click of a button. The platform allows reporting of the differences in time and cost and ensures users can easily see the version relevant to them, with default variations available for roles or users.

It all starts from a standard process that acts as the foundation for any variations. This core procedure provides the benchmark for KPIs and a starting point for compliance. From it, Nintex Promapp allows users to apply either global or process-specific variations.

Global variations are established variants that can apply to multiple processes. Set up separately from the processes themselves, these could be business units, locations, sub-companies or levels of customer service agreement.

Within the variation group are the distinct variations that can be applied, allowing control over how many variants exist for the applicable processes. Users or roles can be assigned a default variation, or the default can be applied to a process group. Users accessing the process will see the variation applicable to them or the process group through which they’re accessing it, ensuring they easily get the right information straight away.

Process specific variations

Process specific variations are just that — variations created within a single process and applied only to that procedure. These are useful for one-off distinctions that aren’t likely to affect other parts of the business or to be needed repeatedly, such as types of leave for a leave request or spend thresholds for a procurement process. Because these are created from the process itself, there’s no need to set up variation groups, and they can be built by any authorized process editor.

Utilizing Nintex Promapp’s variations add-on, a business can balance standardization against context-specific instructions.

More important, it gives essential visibility over the variations, ensuring overall governance of the processes regardless of the different contexts and demands on them. It ensures that change management is centrally controlled, and improvements or innovations in one process variant can be considered and easily applied to others for continuous improvement across the whole organization.

Reporting and tracking are simplified because there’s only one process involved in a global sense. However, Nintex Promapp can compare the variations in terms of time and cost and analyze differences in the metrics. Where efficiencies are identified and can be applied to other variants, users will be made aware of the changes through the usual notifications. This fosters an organization-wide culture of continuous improvement while enabling localized focus on best practices and requirements.

Process variations are a fact of life for sophisticated businesses operating in complex environments. They don’t have to limit the reach or effectiveness of your continuous improvement initiatives or leave business teams out in the cold to fend for themselves when they need tailored versions of essential processes.

Contact us today to find out more about how Nintex Promapp can take difficult process variations and turn them into effective business solutions for your organization.

 

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