I have had many years’ experience helping organisations to understand their own processes and then set about creating better ones. Through the years, I have used many different types of software to help document processes, including MS Visio. I am frequently asked how I document a process, and I understand there is no ‘right’ or wrong’ way, but some solutions are more effective than others.
Detail process charting is the solution I employ. It is the only method that I know will highlight:
- what is done
- who does it
- when is it done
- what adds value
- what is involved
Detail process charting isn’t a well known methodology, and yet, in my experience it is the only way to really understand a process. Until you truly understand something, you will struggle to improve it. Detailed process charts, are, detailed! And so they turn some people off. That’s because they may seem intimidating and leave nothing to chance. Also, creating a detailed process chart is a skill in itself. It is NOT flowcharting!
Detailed process charts flow left to right, and in no other way. A new line is created for each object in the process and the line continues until the object reaches it’s end of life. The charts clearly show the contribution of each object. Identifying value-added activities is far more precise. They enable the ability to design improved and new processes.
For example, take the following process:
It’s a straight forward process, created in MS Viso and very easy to understand.
But who is involved? What is involved? How are things actually done?
Consider the following version, created as a detailed process chart:
Now, admittedly, I couldn’t include the entire diagram, and it appears very small here, but it covers the same process.
It also clearly indicates HOW the process operates, who performs the work, what is produced, what happens to them, etc.
Now, if you are going to improve a business process, which method would YOU trust?
New independent research into the contribution of standards to the UK economy has just been published. It finds that standards boost UK productivity and improve performance, kick-start innovation, and support UK domestic and international trade.
According to the research, reported by BSI:
- 37.4% of UK productivity growth can be attributed to standards
Do you agree with these stats?
How are standards helping your business?
The revision of ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems is in its final stages with publication due in October.
The new standard has an increased focus on legal compliance, introducing the need to maintain a good knowledge and understanding of compliance obligations. This requirement will become an ongoing process, rather than an annual evaluation adopted by many organisations. Businesses need to be prepared for both internal and external auditors looking for clear evidence of an organisation’s level of compliance.
Another key change in the standard is a business’s understanding of what leads to compliance obligations. Businesses will need to assess risk using a much wider approach, not simply assessing how business activities cause a direct risk to the environment. This analysis must look at the causes and impact of environmental and legal impacts, both now and in the future.
This places legal obligation within the risk and opportunities context, meaning businesses will have to be far more aware of their future compliance obligations and how that impacts their strategy and planning.
A project manager is someone who is in overall charge of the planning and execution of a particular project. That’s quite a large brief! In my experience, it includes:
- getting the best out of people
- exerting influence
- managing expectations
- having an eye for detail
- understanding quality and standards in the context of project objectives
- making decisions that are in the interest of the overall project
But why do more and more organisations use external help when it comes to implementing their own projects?
I guess one of the reasons that I am asked to project manage for my clients is that there is already a relationship and the trust is there.
But speaking to other companies whom I have managed projects for without a previous working relationship was quite interesting. Collectively, here are the 5 main reasons why my clients opted for me to manage their projects over assigning them internally:
- Our staff respond in a much more positive way when dealing with external resource
- None of us have the time to manage so many different people and their contributions to the project
- If we did it ourselves the scope would change 1000 times and it would never get done
- We never even thought of defining the risks associated with our project. Your expertise ensured risks and issues were identified and managed from the outset.
- You applied structure to the project, whereas we would have created an Excel chart and hoped it would work.
Are any of these familiar to you?
Number 1 was an interesting answer. Why do you think staff respond better to an ‘outsider’ rather than to a colleague?
Some organisations are able to deliver projects successfully, whilst others struggle to reap any sort of benefit from a project.
Do you recognise any of these traits?
- Projects completed late, over-budget or without meeting the objectives
- Weak standards used within the project
- Management of the project is reactive rather than proactive
- Buy-in from your people is hard work; difficult to understand the value of the project
- Projects are considered an ‘overhead’
Good project management discipline is the way to overcome these shortcomings. Having good project management skills does not mean you have no problems. It does not mean that risks go away. It does not mean that there are no surprises. The value of good project management is that you have standard processes in place to deal with all contingencies.
Project management processes and techniques are used to coordinate resources to achieve predictable results. However, it should be understood that project management is not an exact science and there is never a guarantee of success. Since projects involve people, there is always complexity and uncertainty that cannot be absolutely controlled.
For more information, visit my website here.
A collective sigh of relief! The new version of ISO 9001 contains fewer prescriptive requirements.
Much will be made of the fact that ISO 9001: 2015 has no requirements for procedures but it does have requirements for documentation.
Clause 7.5 ‘Documented Information’ deals with documented information and is split into 3 sub-clauses – general, creating and updating and control.
You must decide what information you wish to retain, how these are updated and controlled and adequately protected.
So, you justify the controls you have in place regarding documentation. Don’t document procedures for the sake of it, but ensure they exist where control is required.
This is the last in a series of posts regarding the new standard, which will be published at the end of 2015. If you have any questions, just get in touch.