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Author's profile photo Andreas Roesel

Process-orientation – are you really there?

Process-oriented company. This is old news, isn’t it? The majority of companies or their units seem to have ITIL or CMMI standards, a portal link to a process hand-book, trained and certified employees. So why should we concern ourselves with processes and not move on to some other hot topic?

Let’s take a look and remind ourselves of the advantages of being a process-oriented company:  Gains in performance, reduced costs, higher product quality, improving customer satisfaction, time-to-market speed, delivery reliability and financial performance are benefits that you will find in management literature. Check out the recent article by M. Kohlbacher and H. A. Reijers, who investigated the “The Effects of Process-Oriented Organizational Design on Firm Performance,Business Process Management Journal (Vol. 19, No. 2, 2013).

To realize such benefits however requires a journey of appropriate Business Process Transformation. You have already done that? Great, then you have an agreed and communicated process framework. Now ask yourself the following questions and check the indicators with respect to your company.

1. How do you live your processes?

It is important to have the organization aligned to the defined processes. A process typically does not stop at department boundaries! End to end processes are ideally managed by a designated person for the entire process.  Indicator:  process management and operational management
are closely linked. Counter indicator: the role of process manager is considered an overhead.

   In addition processes are understood as beneficial and adhered to across hierarchical levels. Indicator: Leaders talk about how they themselves follow and benefit from processes and ask about process adherence. Counter indicator:  A manager saying to a project member “just get it done and we will worry about processes later”.

2. How do you measure process performance?

Process optimization becomes tangible through establishing fitting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs allow you to judge if your process is successful, if it is supporting the business or if you need to adapt or change it. Indicator: your KPIs align with processes.  Counter indicator: the effect of your Business Process Transformation on your KPI definition and measurement is not clearly visible.

3. Do you have a process council?

Cooperation and decision-making are another two important aspects of a process-oriented company. As we are talking end-to-end processes, affected departments, managers and experts need to be involved. Indicator: you have an established way to align and decide on processes. Counter indicator:  you make strategic changes without having your process view systematically represented.

Answering such questions should help you evaluate how much you have achieved with regards to process-orientation. You have all that? Congratulations! Your process-oriented company should see benefits of the process-orientation materialize and be positioned favorably to tackle the next challenges. This takes us back to the question at the start – process-orientation versus hot topic. In my experience it is not the focus on process-orientation as such that brings us forward, but rather the inclusion of the process-orientation in our company specific hot topics. This could be a topic for a future blog.

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