The Top 10 Best Practices of Business Process Management steps 7 – 10

Years of successful and not-so-successful process management experience have led to a set of best practices a number of fundamental principles that must be honored in order to optimize returns to the company, the delivery of business results to customers and to satisfy the needs of the organization’s other stakeholders. The following principles underlie the methods of business process operation and change. Understanding and living according to these principles will get managers and practitioners alike through some tough debates about managing processes. Without support for these the principles, teams can easily get lost and distracted from the intent of the mission.

The 10 principles are
Business change must be performance driven.
Business change must be stakeholder based.
Business change decisions must be traceable to the stakeholder criteria.
The business must be segmented along business process lines to synchronize change.
Business processes must be managed holistically.
Process renewal initiatives must inspire shared insight.
Process renewal initiatives must be conducted from the outside in.
Process renewal initiatives must be conducted in an iterative, time-boxed approach.
Business change is all about people.
Business change is a journey, not a destination

This month we will look at 7 – 10

Principle 7: Process Renewal Initiatives Must Be Conducted from the Outside In

In any change initiative, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the daunting task to be accomplished. If we try to deal with too much at once, we will never finish; instead, we will fall prey to “analysis paralysis.” Managing multiple levels of detail or going to an overly complex level is the biggest risk. Everything we do should be understood and validated at its own level, starting at the top and then working down. At each level, the objects we are analyzing must be looked at only with regard to their own context before any decomposition occurs.

Processes and organizations should employ the black-box approach. For example, we will examine each chosen process in turn to see how it works with regard to its external stakeholders and other related, internal processes. We will break down each process into its next level of activities, and each of those will be examined. In this way, we’ll keep analysis and design at an appropriate level of detail. We won’t spend unnecessary time analyzing work that won’t even exist later. We will focus on the key aspects, not all aspects. We will understand the drivers and have the insight needed before moving on. The context will provide meaning at each and every level of detail or decomposition. The details will come if and when they are needed.


 Principle 8: Process Renewal Initiatives Must Be Conducted in an Iterative, Time-Boxed Approach

Principle 8 extends into an approach that encourages you to learn, create something, review it, and plan the next cycle of the same. It assumes that people don’t know everything in advance and that they must create an environment wherein they can figure things out and articulate them incrementally. This iterative approach assumes that you will need to attempt changes first at a fairly high level of abstraction before getting too detailed.

This concept isn’t new, but, more recently, those applying the concept have proven the benefit of doing only a time-fixed amount of work before reviews occur. This is often referred to as time boxing. Time boxing dictates that the activity schedule is preset and the amount of work performed varies according to what can be done within the timeframe. It also solves one of the biggest problems in process-oriented change situations—that is, scheduling the participants, especially management, for key reviews.

Experience confirms commitment to the findings is also built incrementally. However, it’s important that the right knowledge be pursued—that is, relevant knowledge to the task at hand as defined by the stakeholder criteria.

Certain overly detail-oriented staff should be kept away from this type of work. We are analyzing and developing processes, not procedures. This type of rapid-fire work can put tremendous pressure on team members, who are now living a series of short-term deadlines. Perfectionists will have a difficult time with this. What’s needed are good listeners, who can develop trust and respect, and good presenters who will explain but never defend their findings. They must not take changes personally; they must be comfortable in revealing their incomplete, incorrect work products and see the changes to them.

Principle 9: Business Change Is All About People

Human change isn’t something you do; it’s everything you do.

Many steps in managing process change are there for no good reason other than decision support. Intellectually, you could argue that many steps are unnecessary or a waste of time and effort. Sadly, you are right, if you don’t consider the human element. Change initiatives are often used simply as ways of creating a document. Instead, you must see them as a vehicle of more encompassing transformation. You aren’t just converting technology, data, procedures, or organizations; you are converting people into enthusiastic supporters and participants. This is one reason that you should encourage active participation in the analysis of existing processes. This analysis fosters understanding and communication.

To do this, a number of factors become paramount. In addition to your communications strategy, you must support changes with appropriate roles and responsibilities, organizational structures, empowerment within accountability, aligned performance incentives, and recognition as well as personal growth opportunities. During transition, the staff must feel that an appropriate level of trustworthy communication is happening. They should feel a sense of contribution as a result of their participation.

Principle 10: Business Change Is a Journey, Not a Destination

A major distinguishing feature between process management and business process re-engineering (BPR) efforts that swept past us in the early and mid-1990s is their approaches to continuity of effort. BP management strives to uphold the notion of supporting the ongoing management of the implemented change or the ongoing implementation of change.

Two major business factors must be taken into account today: The first is that we don’t have time to get everything right, so whatever we do will have to adjust as we learn in the marketplace. Secondly, whatever we do, no matter how right, will be short-lived and have to change anyway. Consequently, we must build versatile solutions and keep our eye on what is changing to be able to adapt in the future. This essentially means that we will never arrive at the Nirvana of stability but will always be getting there.

We must recognize that, at any point in time, our stakeholders will have a set of requirements that are in flux. The balance among these requirements will change as each of the stakeholders’ contributions to us change.

The ebb and flow of stakeholder and market evolution means that processes must be managed, even when they aren’t undergoing radical change. Without process stewardship, ongoing measurement, benchmarking, and constant attention to stakeholders of all types, we will fall behind through attrition. Change is required even if we simply want to maintain our current position.

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