The Power of Process Management
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Is your company operating at peak efficiency?

That’s something of a trick question: Operational improvement is an ongoing process that responds to incremental developments as well as broad strategic shifts. Whereas smaller companies may be able to make such improvements on an ad-hoc basis, midsized corporations are better served with an established process management system that clearly defines processes across functional silos, addresses issues as they arise, and measures results on a consistent basis.

Here are some of the considerations that go into developing a process management system for your company:

  • Build a culture of responsibility. Process improvement means continuous change, which can only succeed if employees at every level embrace their role over their task list. “The biggest challenge I see in a midsize company is: How do I operate with accountability and enable people and trust them to manage their processes?” says Scott Kaeppel, President, Kaeppel Consulting in San Antonio, Texas. “The old-school way was to have a COO or CMO who  can step into a room and tell people, ‘This is the way it's going to be.’ Now there are a whole lot more people involved, and it gets a little harder to hold people accountable for process performance.”
  • Understand how as well as what. “Many people understand what their teams do in an organization,” says Chris Ewing, executive vice president, head of strategic execution and Six Sigma at Regions Bank. “Process management goes to the next level and understands how they do it.” By mapping a process from beginning to end, even as it crosses functional boundaries, you can uncover bottlenecks, redundancies, and other pain points. What’s more, by documenting how things are done, you are creating institutional knowledge that persists when individuals come and go in particular roles.
  • Follow the money. “Start with the highest-level processes in a company,” Ewing explains “Those are really broken down into four core groupings: marketing, sales, service, and fulfillment.” He suggests mapping out these macro processes, then drilling down to sub-processes to uncover “leakage, complaints, lost business, re-work or inefficiencies. Leakage is lost business.”
  • Get granular. When you uncover a leaky process, break it down into its components, says Barry McPhee, a Vermont-based certified project management professional (PMP) with experience in the public and private sectors. “A process-improvement plan first describes the purpose, start, and end of the process, its inputs and outputs, the data required, its owners and stakeholders,” he explains. “That is your ‘as-is’ process. You can similarly describe the ‘to-be,’ ideal process that meets performance targets, and do a gap analysis to get from point A to point B.”

The climate in which your business operates is anything but static. Similarly, process improvement isn’t a one-time deal. It requires understanding and managing these processes on a continuous basis—in essence, keeping the tools of your trade well honed.

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This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.