How to start a process center of excellence
‘Process excellence’ is a term heard a lot in the business world. It’s often used by different people to mean different things, which has diluted and warped its meaning over time.
Before we can discuss the logistics of creating a center for process excellence, the first step is to clarify what is meant by the term. After that, we can outline the process roles and responsibilities required in creating a center of process excellence.
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What is process excellence?
Process excellence is a work culture that builds process improvement into everything that it does. It requires treating processes the same way you would treat any other business asset. This begins by taking ownership of processes within the business.
Individuals across the organization should be involved in identifying, codifying, reviewing, and updating processes—an approach called process mapping.
Traditionally, improving business processes was the remit of a small team of process improvement consultants. In an organization of 5,000 people, for instance, a team of five or six people would work in isolation on individual projects.
They would create process maps to highlight which processes should be improved. With no input from the wider team, these would then be filed away and, perhaps, never seen again.
There is a better approach. Process excellence does not treat process improvement as an end-goal, but as an ongoing pursuit. There’s always room to improve processes, because new technologies, new methodologies, and new ways of working are always being developed.
If your business doesn’t adapt yet your competitors do, you will soon find that you’ve fallen behind the pack.
Ongoing process improvement is a vital part of staying competitive in today’s ever-changing, highly disruptive world of business – and the only way to do this is to build a culture of process excellence that gets everyone involved.
A center for process excellence
Successful businesses are in constant pursuit of process excellence. Establishing a center of process excellence can ensure that this goal is core to your organization’s culture and its everyday running.
The role of the center for process excellence is twofold:
- To establish a framework to ensure the business is adhering to a defined standard of process excellence.
- To make process improvement a part of everyone’s job, not just the remit of five or six process improvement consultants. Every employee at a business brings a different set of skills and/or type of intelligence. Process mapping can empower each one of them.
What is process mapping?
Processes underpin everything people do at work. They are the basis on which we deliver the outcomes our jobs require. However, unless we take a step back and take a long hard look at these processes, often they remain abstract.
By mapping processes, an organization can shine a light on its processes – and begin to improve them.
Process mapping is a way to document, manage, share, and improve existing processes. It establishes consistency and visibility over processes and, most importantly, provides a framework for improvement.
Six steps to your center for process excellence
To establish a center of process excellence, you need to ensure you take the following steps:
The first step is to find a leader (or leaders) to take ownership of the center for process excellence. It is the responsibility of leaders to communicate and demonstrate the importance of process mapping to the whole organization.
Assigning the role of a ‘process leader’ to workers already in leadership roles can give their decisions some added weight. You want to find those who are willing and able to set things in motion and lead from the front.
- Strategic direction
To get buy-in from everyone and start the cultural shift that is required, process mapping needs to be closely aligned with the wider business strategy. This involves:
- Ensuring the process mapping initiative is clearly explained
- Highlighting how process mapping will positively impact the business
Process mapping is not just about collecting knowledge about processes. It is the first step in a wider business strategy to improve productivity, reduce costs, become more agile, more competitive, and grow the business. Successful businesses create meaningful links between process excellence and the future of the organization.
- Process management framework
One of the main jobs of the center for process excellence is to set out a framework for process management. It’s important to outline exactly what this entails, how it is going to work, and what it requires of people.
In terms of creating a framework, there are two ends of the spectrum:
- Centralized – Process mapping could be managed centrally. The business process management team could map all the processes internally and then hand them over when they’re in a good state.
- Company-wide – A better approach is to nominate designated champions in every part of the business to take ownership over their own processes. For example, a Human Resources champion will oversee all process mapping in the HR department. In this case, the job of the center of process excellence would be to provide the tools and train the champions.
Process mapping must become part of everybody’s day-to-day responsibilities across the whole organization. It needs to be integrated into the way that people do things, and the organization needs to support that.
You need to look at the current resourcing and make time for process mapping, process ownership, and, down the line, process improvement and process automation.
- Communication & Engagement
To make process excellence work, organizations need to have an effective communication structure. Process excellence is, above everything else, a change management initiative.
One of the most important aspects of managing change is how well line of business users are informed.
You need to consider:
- How to communicate important information
- How to update people when changes are made
- How effective your existing change management structure is, or if you’ll have to establish a new methodology for communication
- Where people will look for essential process information, how easy it will be to find, and how they’ll provide feedback on i
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- Individual focus
It’s important to tie process mapping to individuals’ jobs and responsibilities. There are a few ways to formally introduce process mapping into your organization:
- Onboarding and induction – new employees should be educated about the culture for process excellence, what the center for process excellence does, and inform them about their responsibilities for process mapping.
- Performance reviews – Ultimately, to make a success of process mapping you need to measure success. Process mapping and ownership must become part of an individual employee’s performance review.
Where to start with process excellence?
These six steps will help you prepare your organization to construct the foundations for a center of process excellence. The best place to start is to review these six points against all major business lines: finance, sales, IT, HR, etc.
Once you have these in place, it’s time to roll out your center of process excellence to the departments and eventually the wider business.
So far, we’ve explored the areas of organizational support needed to establish a center for process excellence. But organizations must first make sure they have the resourcing, framework, communication, leadership, strategic direction, and individual focus right so they are set up to cultivate a culture where process excellence is part of everybody’s job.
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Creating sustainable process excellence change with technology
Just as important as the framework, communication, leadership and individual focus are the tools you need to facilitate this. To foster company-wide adoption, you’ll need an easy-to-use set of tools that let your employees understand, map, and manage processes.
You shouldn’t need a degree in business process management or proficiency in Visio. Find a solution that is simple, intuitive, involves no-code, and is designed to engage people.
There are two key areas where the right technology can really make a big difference:
- Quality of information
- Governance and change management
Businesses have been content to deal with robust procedural manuals or complex Visio diagrams to visualize information. But we live in a world where that is no longer acceptable – especially if you want to get buy-in from employees across the organization.
Workers have been trained to expect information to be delivered a certain way – simple, concise, visual, engaging, and notification-led.
Find a solution designed with these expectations in mind. All the information that people need to understand their processes should be presented in an easy-to-understand format.
What’s more, the right process mapping tools can provide visibility over the processes users own and changes that are made to processes they are involved in.
This allows users to quickly and easily act when it is required. The information is clear and engaging to leaders and staff on the ground.
When change is communicated across the organization clearly, it makes change much easier.
To find out more establishing a center of process excellence with the Nintex Process Platform at your organization, request a live demo today.