Process Design – Where To Start???

Whether you are looking at improving an existing process or establishing a new one, it can all seem daunting, especially when trying to ensure that it doesn’t take forever to implement.

So…what’s the starting point?

There are 2 questions to answer as your starting point…

  1. What is the purpose of the functional area?
  2. What tasks are necessary for the functional area to achieve its purpose?

These answers are applicable no matter if it is a low key process improvement project or a large scale organizational transformation or anything in between.

Simple, right?

Yes and no.

It is simple once you break it down and remove any bias, job justification (turf protection), internal politics, the “we’ve tried this before”, the “we’ve always done it this way”, and any other nonsense that gets in the way.

You want to start with a clean slate looking through an unfiltered lens. By having this perspective, you are able to focus on what is the absolute necessity for that functional area.

As well, it makes the priority about effectiveness vs efficiency. There is a difference and that’s for a different time.

Let’s look at the first one, the purpose of the functional area. At a very high level, when you look at the current org chart or looking at building an org chart, there are the basics…Sales, Marketing, Operations, IT, Finance, and HR. From there, each group can be broken down into different teams/specialties and split across different verticals and so on and so on.

As you can see, the organizational structure can get quite complex quickly and with that comes complex processes that seem natural, but the question that you have to ask yourself is “why…why does it need to be this complex….why is this function needed…why?”

This is where the purpose of each functional area needs to be clearly defined. It is not about operating lean vs heavy, it is about ensuring that each functional area is contributing to the overall organization’s growth and sustainability.

One key note, just because a functional area is relevant today does not mean it is relevant tomorrow.

So now you’ve defined your organization and clearly defined the purpose of each functional area.

Now it’s onto defining the necessary tasks that are needed for that functional area to operate and deliver on its responsibilities.

Notice I said necessary…There are many tasks that people do that are busy work and don’t really add much value.

How many of us had to generate report after report where people only looked them passively if at all???

If a task outcome is not used to drive a decision or input to into an action, then it’s not needed.

Just as mentioned earlier, tasks that are relevant today may not be relevant tomorrow.

Once these tasks are defined, you can move onto putting the pieces together that will build out the internal processes within each functional group and then the cross-functional processes.

By taking this approach in your process design activity you’ll see that you have eliminated many wasteful tasks and put a rigorous focus on improving the effectiveness of each functional group.

So remember, when you want to review your current processes or define new ones, ask…

  1. What is the purpose of each functional group?
  2. What tasks are necessary for the functional area to achieve its purpose?

And don’t forget to drill down by asking “WHY“…Why is an effective way of finding out what’s important, what failed before, and many more!

Lastly, to stay competitive, this is an ongoing process. It should never be static. Implementing small changes along the way will yield larger results over a big-bang approach.

Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts when you had to go through a process design activity!

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