Keeping core processes aligned to the business

Business Insights
24/02/2021


In any business you need to plan for growth and be responsive to change. When this is successful the company’s processes will remain aligned as the business grows.

However, there are situations where companies outgrow their processes. Let’s review three key mistakes that can cause this and the solutions.

Mistakes:

  • Not introducing core processes at the start

Imagine brewing a new beer. Without following the 10 key stages of the brewing process, the product won’t taste great. If you’re lucky and create excellent beer but don’t record what you did, you won’t be able to recreate it.

From the start, be clear what the process is, and record it. This means you can repeat it, and as your team expands, others can also repeat it.

  • Prioritising clients’ needs above your own

Imagine baking affordable artisan bread. Initially sales accelerate. Then requests start for all organic, gluten free etc. Should you adapt your recipe to satisfy these requests? Do they fit the original vision?

Listening to customers is important, but you also need to consider your own business needs. Trying to suit everyone will almost certainly result in a process that no longer works and an unsatisfactory product.

However, there may be requests worth incorporating. Customer feedback can help gauge how and when to expand the business. But before doing this, ensure the changes fit into your core process.

  • Developing a tick box process

Some companies want or need accreditations or certifications, e.g. ISO9001, to compete in a market. They write a procedure that ticks the boxes for each requirement but isn’t created holistically and doesn’t align to the core process. Employees perceive it as a bolt on task – not something that’s essential or needing proper care and attention, so it is neglected.

Solutions:

Culture

If you don’t want to outgrow your processes you need to create an agile and responsive culture. This requires joined up thinking and collaborative working, being open to change and empowering your teams to be innovative and create change.

Establishing Process Working Groups can help in developing the culture. These groups take responsibility for setting the process, reviewing its successes and seeking improvements. Members should be selected for their knowledge of the current process and also their energy, edge, ability to enthuse others and their capacity to get the job done.

The working group should focus on the bigger picture and be open to feedback. It needs to be objective when reviewing the success of the process. Remember things change, processes grow and evolve and sometimes things just don’t work out how you would have wanted them to. Rather than failures view these as lessons to learn from.

The working groups should also be involved in the initial implementation and will need to be a constant champion for the new process. Communicating the change and the reasons for it, is key. People should know why they are doing something, not just what they need to do.

Performance Review

For some people performance reviews and audits can be a stressful part of their job.

As a business owner or manager, if you want to keep your processes agile and responsive you will need to change this perception. You need to know that the work is being done and the processes are being followed, but equally you don’t want your team so stressed that they turn each process into a tick box just to be sure they can get through the performance review.

One way to help reduce the stress is to ensure the team understands that the review is also about the process itself – not just the person carrying it out. This more holistic approach allows you to complete process-based auditing (checking that the process is effective and efficient) and avoid the ‘tick box’ mentality.

Process audits should look at:

  • The purpose of the process
  • What business objective is it supporting?
  • Is it managing the risk and exploiting the opportunities?
  • Is it achieving its purpose? or
  • Are there barriers, blockers or waste in the process?

These audits must be a true reflection of the process and be carried out by people independent of the task/project or the process working group.

Feedback from these audits plus other performance measures should go to the Process Working Group for review. The auditor and working group should agree any corrective actions needed and identify any changes or improvements to the process.

By avoiding the three mistakes and following these suggestions you can keep your core processes on point.

By Joanna Strahan, C2C Process

Web: http://processcollaborators.co.uk/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/process-collaborators/