You can feel the difference a healthy process improvement culture makes in an organization. Staff are more engaged and motivated. Customers are more connected. There’s an energy and purpose to what is being done at every level.
This momentum is present when process management has become part of the business’ DNA. Processes are captured and used, documented clearly, referenced regularly and built on in a cycle of continuous improvement.
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Across the organization, teams are equipped to develop new ideas and empowered to improve quality and efficiency, increasing customer satisfaction, reducing waste and streamlining their work.
It’s a different story for businesses that don’t prioritize an improvement culture. Perhaps they tried process improvement. It was a one-off project that seemed to be successful enough, but the resulting reams of procedure documents were seen as irrelevant to ongoing operations, like an audit report. The resulting benefits have long been forgotten and there’s little enthusiasm for the effort involved in reviving and managing those processes.
The two scenarios couldn’t be more different, even though both had the same intention, at least on the surface. It’s when you dig a little deeper that you see the key differences between the two. Those aspects make for great checkpoints when you consider the health of your process culture.
Weigh your paper trails
For decades, business process management projects have been synonymous with documentation. The thought is, if three-quarters of the processes have been documented, the project is three-quarters of the way to return benefits to the organization. That’s simply not true.
Producing miles of process documents won’t improve your business outcomes. It’s a case of focusing on the wrong target. Compiling lists and lists of ineffective or poor-quality processes can’t improve business outcomes.
The goal needs to be improvement, and that has to be continual – a natural part of the day-to-day activities of your teams at every level.
Everyone is accountable
There’s a place for specialist process people in an organization, but too many businesses think this absolves the rest of the company from taking any part in process management. Having process managers or a quality team can send the wrong signals if this is seen as ‘ownership’.
Good governance is important, but the best people to understand a process and suggest improvements or updates to it, are those that are best acquainted with it. That’s the business teams and front-line staff who use those processes on a daily basis.
The process knowledge held in business teams needs to be unlocked and the responsibility for making it available should be with the real process owners – those who have a stake in the processes. New ideas, improvement suggestions, and collaboration on better procedures all come from the experience of those who know and use the processes.
That requires an investment from the business to ensure teams have the time, resources, and motivation to ensure process information is relevant and useable and getting used. Having everyone engaged in managing their processes creates a solid foundation for continuous process improvement.
Monitor what happens next
Many businesses approach business initiatives with the notion of ‘after’. But there is no ‘after’ in continuous improvement. It’s an ongoing practice that needs to be woven into the everyday activities of the business.
Captured processes provide a template for activity, but they’re in a constant state of review. Rather than relying on the status quo being maintained by those who ‘know what they’re doing’, improvements and innovations need to be considered, documented, implemented, and shared so everyone can benefit from the change.
The other problem many businesses encounter is maintaining team engagement once process management is in place. Capturing and improving processes doesn’t help anyone if those processes aren’t being employed and executed consistently.
Good communication is key, along with an awareness of the best practices that have been established. Encouraging innovation – ongoing changes and improvements – starts at the top and must be supported by tools that make process information available and accessible to teams.
Know what healthy looks like
Sometimes the key to success is knowing the right objectives. It’s all but impossible to improve the state of your business processes if there’s nothing recorded and no buy-in from the people who will be implementing change.
A healthy process culture requires engagement and collaboration, with everyone involved being part of an ongoing conversation about how to better serve your customers, how to improve cross-team cooperation, or how to reduce lost time and resources.
When a business makes healthy process culture a priority, it improves engagement, innovation, and collaboration across the organization, and those things bring market-changing benefits.
Process management isn’t a project. Those businesses that get the most from it recognize that it’s an ongoing investment and an attitude that needs to permeate every level of the organization. That means making excellent processes that are easy to find and simple to use, enabling agility and encouraging innovation.
Investing in those skills and encouraging those attitudes pays off in competitive advantage and makes a healthy process culture as valuable as any business investment.
Want to learn more about how Nintex can help make process improvement about the direction, not the destination, schedule a personalized demo of the Nintex Process Platform today.