Don’t let the process get you down

Don’t let the process get you down

What do you feel when you hear the word “process”?  So often, clients tell me things such as cumbersome, slow, overhead or necessary evil.  When probed, their explanation is often well justified by specific experiential examples in their organizations.

Service Management best practices (such as ITIL®, MOF, USMBOKTM) are filled with recommendations for using processes to ensure efficient, effective service delivery quality for a business.    However, reconciling how processes help achieve that is often a big hurdle for technologists whose experiences tell them otherwise.   Do organizations set out to develop slow, cumbersome processes that will seize an organization’s progress?  I hope not!

So, what differentiates those organizations that find utility in processes and collectively endorse them to achieve more desirable business results from those that are felt overrun with process and deem it overhead, and merely a necessary evil?   Here are a few key success factors:

Clear purpose:  Answer the questions, why use this process?  What do we specifically gain from using it? Is service delivery getting better, faster, and/or cheaper as a result?

Metrics-driven:  Focus on a handful of key measurements that demonstrate the achievement of the clear purpose.  Set goals, report them and discuss progress or adjustment on a regular basis.

Lean Process Design:  Limit overhead activities that show little value; “less is more” in process design.

Automation: Organizations BIG or small benefit from the automation of a lean process.  It will significantly improve the adoption and success of the process.

Training:  Train and re-enforce not just merely as you roll out but integrate into employees on boarding process  and yearly refreshers.

Adoption:  Champion and make part of everyday operations so it becomes part of the normal conversation.

Continuous improvement:  Build in feedback mechanisms and review checkpoints that provide an ongoing opportunity to ensure the process continues to meet its purpose through market and organizational changes.

Process leadership:  Probably the single most important factor is leadership that understands, supports and participates in the sometimes difficult decisions and conversations needed to ensure organizational commitment.

Test each of these factors to gauge your organization’s processes and modify your approach accordingly to get process value back for your operations.