Missing Links- Mend them with Processes

Talent acquisition, mergers, sales promotion, supply chain management, there is one thing for sure which is common in all of these, you may be thinking what can that be? The common feature that is required for the smooth functioning of each of these is called –  Process. Every aspect of any business involves process, that too the one which is well written and implicates one function with another in a manner that resolves most of the problems.

Large or small, do not let the size of your organisation decide your success in the market, the ignorance of intricate processes may delay the chances of your company’s state of opulence.

There are often queries in the forum related to people being difficult to handle, a latest one talks about how to stop the IT Manager from buying a laptop and a mobile, and the main solution for this is a requirement of a well drafted and creatively designed process. In fact, with the technological advancement some companies also use ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or customized softwares which can run for a particular business unit but generally have problems when the process integration is required across the oganisation.

In such cases, business process re-engineering comes as the savior, and now companies have specific systems to align their processes well with each department and this is called Business Process Management- where the best of BPR (Business Process Re-engineering) and TQM (Total Quality Management) is utilized to interlink the departmental processes.

Apart from using automated processes, what else can companies do to lessen the length and errors which occur through lack of processes?

Here are my observations, which have been gathered through experiences at many organisations:

First and foremost, a well documented Process: Drafting any process requires a step by step approach, what comes first and then next and so on and so forth, once the documentation is done properly it becomes not only easy to understand but user friendly too. Any missing link can create monetary losses as well as be time consuming. Sometimes fatal accidents also happen when a small link in the process goes missing.

Specific and action oriented: A creatively drafted process surely needs to be specific and should be able to identify the actions required. Be it procurement of goods, supply chain, or performance management the process should clearly indicate what follows next.

Learning curve: Starting from setting goals, to acquisition and retention of human resource, till their exit, a properly designed process can help reduce the learning curve as everything is documented and can be used for future purposes.

Useful in replication: When the company has well written processes they can replicate the business unit much faster, especially in the retail industry if the business needs to be expanded or in franchisee set up, replication becomes faster and teething does not create much problems.

Cost effective. The more repeated the SOPs the less cost it incurs for the company and the department. Through economies of scale, an operation becomes better as it becomes more familiar with the standard operating procedures of the organization.

Integration of various departments: With the standard operating procedures identified and documented, the various departments can be integrated. One benefit is that every department knows where the steps of action start and where it ends, and then the next department takes over, which makes the functioning of the systems smooth.

Less dependency on People: No, there is no harm in being dependent on a person/employee, but companies should not make employees indispensable, clear cut processes restrict such things. Also, lack of process increases dependency on some people and very often it is seen that such key resources at some point of time in their career take advantage of their position. So in order to control certain behavior a well crafted process helps.

More time for creativity and innovation: Although it is not directly linked but with the availability of various processes in the organization the team members can think out of the box as day to day problems do not occur that often and are generally taken care by the excess of SOPs.

The proper identification and documentation of business processes is imperative to an organization’s success.  There is no hard and fast rule to adhere to processes all the time, as we are thinking beings hence there are times when an individual will have to deviate from the normal procedure to get the job done.

Happy processing….:) (not literally)

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