What are Your Key Processes?
Flow charting, or is called, is the primary tool that people use to define the value added and non-value added steps of a given process. Value stream mapping is a new and improved variation of this tried and true quality tool. You may have used one, or both of these, tools at one time or another to define your processes. Have you also gone the extra mile to identify what the desired processes should look like? How often do you track the waste, or non-value added, steps that exist in each process? How often do you effectively find the root causes of that waste?
Too few organizations go beyond process mapping to define all of the key processes in their organization. Even fewer also define the customer requirements and measures for each process. The table shown is central to the process definition efforts of the best companies. By simply taking the time as a leadership team to complete a similar table for your location, you might come across some process definition gaps. You also might gain some clarity about why you do what you do each day.
The Baldrige Performance Excellence criteria focus on two key process types – value creation and support. Value creation processes exist to build value into the product or service that you are providing to your customers. Support processes help make sure that the value creation processes can do their job. We tend to focus on value creation processes because they are central to the supply chain itself. We shouldn’t ignore the support processes however. If they contain waste or fail to meet their requirements, the value creation processes will eventually break down as well. Even if they don’t fail, they will cost much more to execute than they should.
How Can You Define Your Processes?
The process definition matrix shown is an example of one that is commonly found in a Baldrige application for an organization’s value creation processes. There are two key things to note about this example.
First of all, look at the types of process areas that are listed. A lot of companies neglect some of these processes from a process management perspective. They just let them run their cycles each day. Little worry is given to potential process waste or process improvement possibilities that may exist.
Second, and more importantly, look at the columns that have been completed for each process area. For each of the six processes shown, key customer requirements have been defined. Process measures have been defined as well. This is where both the simplicity and power of process management exists. How many processes do you have in your organization?
Imagine if you simply took the time to complete such a chart for your location (at most an hour or two of your leadership team’s time). How much clarity might you gain about why your people currently do what they do on the job each day? I would be willing to bet that you would find a gap or two. For example, you might discover a lack of defined internal or external customer requirements? You might also detect missing measures for gauging success in meeting those requirements.
Oh, and by the way, don’t forget that a similar chart can be created for your support processes as well. How effective are your human resources, information technology, and maintenance processes? How many support processes do you have? How much waste and process insight do you think you might find in those areas?
EXPLORE MORE: Evaluating Root Cause Analysis Processes