“Strong business processes power the engine that drives execution.”
Best practice executive leadership focuses time and attention on the direction, strategy, and structure of the organization. Through this focus, that same leadership often overlooks the vital role that business processes play in successful organization execution. All work must flow through business processes to deliver leadership’s intention and, collectively, it is those business processes that power the engine that drives an organization’s execution.
We know that over 70% of all organization opportunities lie directly in business process deficiencies. We know that most business processes are undefined, too complicated, not followed, not measured, and loaded with non value-added reviews and approvals. Most leadership operates reactively to painful broken process symptoms by adding on more reviews, approvals, and complexity, while missing the underlying causes of performance shortfalls.
Organizations make substantial investments in facilities, information technology, people, knowledge, and equipment to provide the infrastructure necessary to succeed. These assets combine to enable the production of products and services that flow through business processes to deliver customer value. It is rare, however, that we see a comparable investment in business process management. By not investing in building, managing and continually improving business processes, an organization substantially underperforms relative to its full potential. Poorly designed and managed business processes cause the underproductive performance of other assets and organization performance significantly suffers.
Reliable and capable business processes make the execution of a leader’s intention possible. Understanding how business processes perform relative to their capabilities provides a significant contribution to customer value and delivers a sustainable competitive advantage. The following process maturity checklist offers basic criteria for assessing an organization’s investment in business process management.
Purpose. Every process should have a well-understood value proposition that serves a loyal customer and fulfills an important need.
Engagement. Employee engagement is essential for successful process management. A process that is defined and improved by those who do the work will deliver a better outcome to the organization.
Ownership. Every process should have a Process Owner and Process Team that is committed and accountable for implementing and sustaining performance improvement.
Definition. Process management and improvement begin with a good definition of a process that is being followed.
Connectivity. Well-defined process connectivity and boundary relationships are a necessary characteristic that is typically missing.
Analysis. Process analysis can take many forms, but at least should include value analysis, handoffs analysis, cycle time analysis, process yield analysis and an assessment of customer value.
Measurement. Nothing can be improved without measuring first. Process measurement can take a variety of forms, including customer effectiveness, process efficiency, resource productivity, and product and services quality.
Improvement. Every managed process should have an actively maintained process improvement plan. Continuous improvement requires a never-ending flow of new opportunities that get implemented.
Monitoring. Monitoring should include a review of the current process performance, the status of improvement implementations and the identification of additional changes to be made.
Sustainability. Sustainability may be the most important consideration for the long-term success of process management. An organization must make the overall commitment to strengthening business processes as a core strategy for improving performance.
An investment and commitment in strong business processes provides ongoing significant tangible benefits, including focused accountability, greater customer value, cost savings, increased productivity, revenue growth, lead-time reduction, improved quality, greater customer value and alignment to strategy. Business process knowledge adds an additional and valuable dimension to the overall intellectual property portfolio of the organization.