By Ivan Seseji, CEO, Promapp
Procedures documents don’t work. That may not come as a surprise to most business executives, yet for many organizations, while process improvement methodologies and techniques have made giant leaps forward over the past few decades, the way they communicate and manage their processes hasn’t changed much, if at all.
For many businesses, key organizational knowledge and processes are still stored and shared in Word documents or spreadsheets, many of which have been stored away in dusty file cabinets. Why is that an issue? Workers who are used to rapidly accessing information through user-friendly tools like Google are unlikely to engage with static, outdated documents – if they can even find them.
Using Microsoft Office tools to manage process knowledge falls short on six fundamental process management requirements.
Bottom line: For an organization to survive and thrive in the 21st century, process management must be brought up to 21st century standards. Organizations should consider five key factors that are at the heart of creating a successful, sustainable approach to process management.
First, visible leadership and buy-in from senior management is essential for business process improvement and innovation to become a reality. Before even thinking about which process management solution might be right for an organization, make certain any changes will be actively supported by senior leadership.
Next, recognize that process information needs to be engaging, user-friendly, and useful. Processes should be laid out in simple steps, with more detail available as needed. (A good test for ease of use is whether users can read and understand high level process information in less than 30 seconds.)
The ability to access information when and where users need it is also important. If information is available where teams already are, within tools they already use, it will become part of their daily routines rather than just another task they have to perform. Process knowledge should be easy to access and share via the company intranet, or through the software programs already in use. A personalized dashboard for each user can also make it easy for them to see the processes they use every day. Even better if this view includes when the processes were last updated.
It’s important to recognize that process information is only useful if it really reflects what happens on the ground. That’s why team members at a variety of levels should have ownership of their processes. The process owner is responsible for changing and improving their processes to keep them relevant and up to date. And because most processes are used by multiple people across the business, it needs to be easy for other team members to give feedback and suggest changes.
Finally, because managing change is one of the biggest challenges of process management, a process management approach that makes change management fast and simple should be adopted. It needs to be easy to edit processes and make all stakeholders aware of any relevant process changes.
Giving teams access to clear, engaging, accessible process knowledge can make a huge difference to the way your business performs, to staff engagement and to employees’ potential to drive improvement and innovation. Procedures documents won’t do that.
Ivan Seselj is CEO of Promapp Solutions, an industry leading provider of cloud-based process management (BPM) software for creating and managing business processes online. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @Ivanseselj. You can visit Promapp at www.promapp.com.