The concept of a process is simple. A repeatable set of steps that reliably accomplish a goal. Unfortunately, the term “process” is reviled by many because they perceive processes as burdensome, overbearing, inefficient, and ineffective, and they could be correct.
However, poor processes and the results they produce do not have to be the default position. I’ve developed this acrostic to explain what a process should be, and to provide a mechanism for reliably improving results.
P.R.O.C.E.S.S. is defined as:
The first part of any successful process is that it gives proven results. This simply means that it has been employed more than a few times and provided acceptable results, if not outstanding ones, every time.
Another way of thinking of “proven” is its reliability and predictability. Does the process provide you with the same outcome every time it is used with the same set of inputs? Does it fail when the process is followed but with substandard or incorrect inputs?
Repeatability is the core definition of any effective process. If its repeatable, then it can be used time and time again by any person trained in its use. If not, you don’t have a process and you are relying on luck rather than management.
Ownership of the process by the people using it is a key to its success. Processes mandated without consultation and buy-in from those who will use it is a recipe for failure. Two reasons for this are:
- Intelligent adults do not like to be told what to do. Ask them for their input and ask them to contribute to making improvements and most will do their very best to make the process and the company a success.
- No one knows how the system better than those who do it eight hours a day, five days a week. Executives and managers worth their salt will provide guidelines and then have the front-line experts develop the most effective process. This is the basis of employee engagement.
The process must be compatible with all of the departments with which it interfaces. If not, then the transfer of information or product within the company will be inefficient. Compatibility can be assured when all applicable departments are part of the “ownership” described above.
This goes without saying. If the process cannot be performed without Herculean effort, then it is useless. Go back to the drawing board and redesign the process.
It is possible that the design of the product is flawed in such a way that a reliable and executable manufacturing process may not be possible. In this case, both the product and process will require redesign.
A process that requires personnel to perform at a high level in stressful environments is not sustainable. Product quality and throughput will suffer, and employee turnover will skyrocket.
In these cases, both the product design and the production facility must be examined. Can the design be modified to improve the assembly process? Is there sufficient profit in the product to afford improving or changing the production facility?
Note: There are some products that require production in stressful environments; there is no way around this. In these cases, extraordinary efforts will be required to keep the personnel safe and engaged.
Lastly, the process must be successful and provide the desired results. If the goals are not met, then the process must be refined or scrapped. In business, ethically-attained results are the expectation and any process that does not provide them, is a detriment to the firm and must not be allowed to continue.
There you have it–a concise and cogent explanation of an effective process. Use this to engage your employees as you improve your business. This quick acrostic is applicable to processes in all departments. Use them and watch the transformation begin. Do not overcomplicate the development of your processes, use P.R.O.C.E.S.S.
This originally appeared in Product Design & Development in March 2016.
Copyright 2016 Doug Ringer
Doug’s Blog is always powerful and to the point. It focuses on innovative ideas to help organizations define, develop, and launch amazing products, and take them to the right customers quickly.
You may subscribe and encourage others to subscribe by clicking here.
Privacy statement: Your email address is never shared with anyone for any reason.