Business Process Management (BPM) is a management methodology, used to define how an organisation will achieve efficient, effective and sustainable results.
The main difference between BPM and traditional management approaches is the adoption of Process Thinking and the development of an organisational culture that is Process Centric.
Process Thinking: All organisations have processes that represent the steps undertaken to deliver a service or manufacture a product. Often these processes are not well documented or even well understood; they just happen. Often organisations will have well documented and followed procedures. However these alone do not represent a well-managed, business process.
Process thinking seeks to:
- Deliver value to Customers and Stakeholders as the key measures of process success
- Manage processes as end-to-end activity streams that cross organisational functional boundaries
- Align all processes with the organisation’s strategic directions
For most organisations it is easy to find stories about customers that have poor experiences or employees that can see obvious areas of dysfunction. Unfortunately, these occurrences are not rare, especially in large organisations where complexity often gets in the way of effective process. A culture of achieving process excellence is required to combat these issues.
A process centric culture seeks to:
- Assign accountability to Process Owners who are responsible for achieving results for their end-to-end process, regardless of the organisational structure that is undertaking the work of the process.
- Create a transparent view of the organisation’s processes and performance measures, ensuring that all activities undertaken are aligned to the organisation’s processes and all performance reporting is traceable back to the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) of Business Processes.
- Adopt a Process Management Framework that details the processes that the organisation will follow to manage and improve all of it’s business processes.
That’s all well and good, but the question I’m asked most of all is, ‘what are the real business benefits of process management’? Well, the key benefits, in my opinion, are:
- Focus. All levels of an organisation are focused on activities that deliver the right results for customers and stakeholders.
- Clarification. Defining how work is done, when, and by whom, provides opportunities to question ‘why?’ and generate major business improvement initiatives.
- Efficiency. The visibility of business processes allows concentration on inefficiencies as well as the opportunity to “re-use” common activities across the organisation.
- Sustainability. Business processes can be continually improved to adapt to changing organisation environments and continue to deliver results.
- Measurable. All processes can be measured end-to-end and compared to expected results.
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Many organisations seek to implement and certify multiple management system standards. This has led to the need to easily combine or integrate them in an effective and efficient manner. To date subtle and not so subtle differences in requirements and terminology across Management system standards have made such integration difficult.
However, have no fear – Annex SL is now here! With the objective of delivering consistent and compatible management system standards Annex SL will attempt to make this process easier.
The major clause numbers and titles of all management system standards will be identical. They are:
2. Normative references
3. Terms and definitions
4. Context of the organisation
9. Performance evaluation
The Introduction, Scope and Normative references will have content that are specific to each discipline and each standard can have its own bibliography.
Annex SL describes the framework for a generic management system, so when you see the framework in actual standards, there will be the addition of discipline-specific requirements to make a fully functional management system standard.
In future all new management system standards will have the same overall ‘look and feel’. Current management system standards will migrate during their next revision which should be completed within the next few years. ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 are currently undergoing this transition.
June is upon us already, and it’s going to be super-busy; here’s what’s in store:
- A new client based in the lovely market town of Beverley, seeking certification to ISO 9001 in order to build upon it’s successes in the public sector. This niche company will be a client for the next 6 months.
- Progressing 2 current ISO 9001 projects – these will continue for another 3 months.
- Continuing my work with Oakland Consulting on internal systems and processes
- A final session with my client in Manchester, completing their new ISO 9001 management system
I have 2 new potential client meetings in June.
- The first company operates in the IT industry. Our meeting is to discuss how ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 can be used to monitor and improve performance, as well as contribute to business development.
- My second prospect meeting is in Leeds with a growing healthcare organisation, who have a requirement to identify, improve and standardise processes across the numerous sites in the locality. This will help the company to implement best practice throughout the business, understand why some sites produce higher performance levels than others, and to improve internal training.
Finally, I have received several requests for information on ISO 27001 over the past couple of months. ISO 27001 is the information security management standard. It provides a framework to effectively secure confidential data and minimise the likelihood of it being accessed illegally, without permission, or becoming lost. As more events are unearthed in the media and press regarding the (poor) security of information, I think ISO 27001 certification is going to become increasingly important for organisations dealing with large volumes of data. I have already had 1 company inform me that they have had a major client instruct them to install the standard or face losing their business. Management systems standards exist to provide confidence in the abilities of your company, and I think this example demonstrates that perfectly.
Wishing you a productive and enjoyable June.
You may be aware that the most commonly used management system standard, ISO 9001, is currently being updated. If not, you need to know that big changes are ahead. The new version of the standard is due to be published September 2015. Although that seems a long way off, now is the time to start planning for the changes and the work involved in maintaining your certification.
Why is ISO 9001 changing?
- ‘Quality’ has evolved since the 2008 version. Quality isn’t about ‘widgets’ and ‘quality control’ anymore. It’s about aligning controls, processes, people and other resource to meeting the needs of our customers. It’s now strategic. And it’s in the boardroom.
- Management system standards have evolved. The use of standards to manage how organisations meet specific objectives is growing. And now the format of such standards has changed – they are now aligned to something called Annex SL, which comprises 10 sections which all management system standards will follow. ISO 9001 is playing catch up.
- ISO itself requires management system standards to be periodically reviewed and updated. ISO 9001 is actually overdue for its revision.
So what can we expect in 2015?
Last week I attended a CQI meeting that focused on ISO 9001 and the proposed changes. On viewing a copy of the latest proposed revision, it’s clear that the standard is hugely different. Probably about 50% of the 2008 version has changed. Not only does it read differently, it looks different as well. It follows the 10 section format as per Annex SL, consisting of:
2. Normative references
3. Terms and definitions
4. Context of the organisation
9. Performance evaluation
Over time, Annex SL (a standard for writing management system standards) will make it easier to navigate, understand and integrate management system standards.
Other significant changes include:
1. The Process Approach is now embedded in requirements
Clause 4.4 specifies requirements ‘considered essential to the adoption of the process approach’. Mostly, these consist of requirements that were already in 9001, but which have now been brought together. But the explicit requirement for an organisation to understand and control its processes is progression in my eyes.
2. Risk management is in, preventive action out
Risk management is a requirement. Preventive action has been removed – which I think a good thing as it was so confusing to many. It’s considered to be replaced by planning, risk management and the having of a management system in the first place.
3. Context of the Organisation
Another BIG change: a whole new clause 4 requiring the organisation to consider itself and its context, and to determine the scope of its quality management system.
This clause is probably going to cause a lot of head-scratching and confusion, but it’s going to reduce the number of organisations trying to get a ‘quick-win’ or a ‘tick in the box’. So again, it’s a good thing in my opinion.
4. Documented information’ replaces both procedures and records – nil mandatory procedures
One of the most controversial changes, and one where further changes are likely before publication.
I can imagine a collective drawing of horrified breaths by the certifiers across the world as they try to imagine auditing to this Standard, where not a single mandatory procedure is specified. I think it’s attempting to get away from the culture of big thick hard-copy manuals etc and recognising that – especially in this electronic age – there are many ways of delivering and recording information. It may not stay exactly as is.
Also, there is NO requirement for a Quality Manual!
5. Terminology changes
The term ‘product’ has been replaced with ‘goods and services’.This is to make it more generic and applicable to service fields, and remove the inherent manufacturing bias. A very good idea methinks (although many manufacturers disagree already). Continual’ has been dropped from the phrase ‘continual improvement’ in favour of just ‘improvement’.
I will blog more about the changes to ISO 9001 as the update progresses, but I think you will now see that this is a significant change and one that will have a huge impact on many organisations. So much so, that ISO are considering a 3 year period to update existing ISO 9001 systems to the 2015 standard.
Now is the time to plan though, not in 12 months’ time. consider:
- learning about the new standard yourself, now
- communicating the changes internally and involving others
- whether you need to re-design your entire system, or keep the same format
Lastly, there is no requirement for a ‘management representative’ in the 2015 version. It implies that the management system is owned by top management. Gulp! Take note – MD’s, CEO’s, Owners – you will be responsible for the management system, and therefore you will need to show evidence that you manage it, drive it, and improve it.
Any questions? Drop me an email or call me.
Finally, what will you do to begin the transition to ISO 9001: 2015?
I have been contacted over the past month by a company who want me to work for them for virtually free! I have provided a proposal in my usual way, based on value, which has been declined and so I thought nothing more of it. However, the company continues to make contact and request that I ‘re-think’ the proposal and ‘adjust’ it to their ridiculous budget.
It’s simply not going to happen.
Their ‘budget’ is reflective of an organisation who seek something for nothing. They see ‘cost’ rather than ‘value’.
I value my expertise, as I’m sure they value theirs, and I have no time for people out for a quick gain.
I wonder if they apply this narrow-minded thinking in all aspects of their lives. The next time they need medical advice, I wonder if they would prefer the quick-win approach over the trusted, expert in the field….
Have you ever thought about your company as a series of linked processes rather than people, departments and job descriptions?
Processes consist of activities that are related and linked to produce something. Examples could be a widget manufacturing process, an order entry process or marketing process. Generally, the output of a process flows into another process as an input.
Analysing a business as a sequence of processes can create tremendous value.
- What if you needed to deliver your service or your product faster?
- What if your staff were continually making mistakes?
- How would you stop all the fire-fighting going on in your company?
It’s all about process.
But this is more than flowcharting. It’s about the detail.
I have written a new article that has just been published on my website. Read it here, and get involved in your processes.
I am always fascinated to find out why a company should choose to conduct a business improvement project. Of course, there are many different factors, ranging from the need to win new contracts, to just making life at work easier.
I have been conducting some research for myself recently, speaking to current and past clients, and asking them to summarise what is was that triggered the need to engage in improvement activity.
If you follow me on Twitter (@AlistairManning) you will be able to see the results using the hashtag #myclientsays