Brand Strategy. Brand Energy.
Making the effort to define, document, implement, and deploy processes requires a significant investment of resources (people, tools, facilities, time, and money). So why do companies make the investment and then let it all go to waste?
Here are 10 critical actions that executives should take to ensure the use of documented procedures:
Executives should define guiding principles, directions, and expectations for how work should be performed to develop and deliver products or services. These expectations need to be clearly communicated to everyone along with the business context for customer satisfaction, finance, technology, quality, human resources, and marketing. What is the most important/overriding factor? Time to market? Quality? Cost? Customer Satisfaction?
Executives must encourage management and staff to determine what is needed to perform each process in order to achieve the company’s established goals and objectives
In order to be successful, executive management needs to ensure that adequate resources (people, tools, facilities, budget, etc.) are available to perform the processes and procedures necessary for developing and delivering products and services. The definition of adequate resources can vary over time depending on external factors and the skill levels of the people performing the processes. Inadequate resources may be addressed by increasing resources, removing requirements, relaxing constraints, etc.
People need to be held accountable for achieving executive management’s goals and objectives. That means the people assigned must have the appropriate authority to perform their assigned responsibilities.
Simply hiring the best, smartest, or experienced people available does nothing to guarantee that each person will correctly follow the documented processes to achieve executive management’s goals and objectives. Executive management must support and encourage people taking skills-based and appropriate process training. Training supports the successful execution of the company’s processes by establishing a common understanding of the process and by imparting the skills and knowledge needed to perform the process. E.g., just because someone has 20 years experience managing work does not necessarily mean that he or she knows how to manage a project.
To be of value to executive management and the business, there must be tangible work products created by following the established processes. Otherwise, following a process that does not produce a tangible work product needs to be questioned. There should be various work products generated, from emails to critical documents. Each needs to be placed under an appropriate level of control (archive only, revision control, baseline configuration management, etc.) as these work products are critical to the success of the business.
The identified stakeholders depend upon context and the specific processes (individuals, teams, management, customers, suppliers, etc.). It is a critical task to ensure that the interactions necessary to perform the processes are accomplished correctly while taking steps to mitigate the risk of people impeding the process. Executive management must ensure that the correct stakeholders have been identified and that their involvement has been clearly identified and communicated, so that the stakeholders will be involved as planned and appropriate corrective actions taken as needed.
In order for executive management to make informed decisions, appropriate performance measures need to be specified, collected, analyzed, and reported. These measures must be used to monitor and control performance against the plan so the business goals and objectives will be met. When there are significant deviations, then appropriate corrective actions need to be taken.
Executives are not always available to walk the floor and ensure for themselves that everyone is correctly following the documented processes and procedures. Executive management needs one or more staff to act as their eyes and ears to provide credible assurance that the processes are being faithfully followed and that the work products are correctly produced and controlled. This is a critical activity otherwise the use of the processes will decay over time. When non-compliances are found, root cause analysis needs to done to determine the appropriate action to resolve the non-compliance.
The process and work product audits and the performance analysis results need to be reviewed by executive management so they can make informed decisions. If the measurement indicators do not provide the necessary insight, then other indicators must be developed and used.
Of course there are other actions that executives can take to ensure use of the standard processes. But the points above have proven critical over the years since they require executive authority, leadership, commitment, and active support.
Henry Schneider is the owner and principal consultant for PPQC, a small elite, highly specialized consulting company that rapidly delivers analysis and tailors solutions to maximize an organization’s earning potential. We help companies strike the balance between people, process, and tools by leveraging extensive experience across more than a dozen industry sectors.