The Importance Of Process
Life is a process. Everything significant thing we do has a process whether it is formalized or not. When you were a child and went over to a friend’s house to play a game for the first time, it was usually explained to you in brief detail and then by consensus it was decided to begin the first game as practice. Something as simple as learning a child’s game has a process.
Why do we need to talk about process? Without a well documented process it cannot be analyzed to see if it is optimal. Can it be improved? Why is that so important? Without an efficient process, waste will occur. If you are analyzing a process in a business environment that means labor, materials or overhead is being used in excess. Beyond that, the importance of knowing the process cannot be understated. It must be communicated and learned the correct way. Without the process carried out as designed by those involved, the best designed process will be wasted. This is what I call execution. Ironically, what I am about to tell you is a process – the process of developing and maintaining a process. See the steps below for a basic idea of how to do this:
1) Design it
2) Communicate it
3) Execute it
4) Re-evaluate and redesign it
Repeat steps 2-4
Typically, changes will be made in the process and that is why it is important to re-evaluate and redesign. Many times the change will come from outside of the organization and you will have to react to the change by adjusting the process.
In order to put some meat on the bones of this discussion let me briefly explain how I evaluated and improved a process for a client of mine. On a monthly basis my client had to report information to the state and was compiling the information from system reports using a legal pad and transferring the data by hand to blank forms for an assistant to complete on the prescribed state forms with a typewriter. I automated a process using an excel spreadsheet and saved an entire day each month or 12 days per year. I also downloaded a pdf file from the state web site that could be filled in which saved about two hours per month or 24 hours per year instead of using the typewriter. This example is an extreme but true instance of benefits or evaluation a process. Let me explain the additional advantages of examining and re-designing this process. By using excel formulas that were cell protected, the risk of math errors were reduced. I also added cross checks in the spreadsheet against the source data to further reduce the chance of errors. By using the fill in pdf form typing errors were reduced by using certain data from previous forms like name, address, identifications numbers etc and only completing information that changed each month.
This is not a game changing event for my client but every little bit helps. Like a mentor of mine once asked me years ago; “what chance is greater; to be run over by an elephant or bitten by a mosquito?” Of course I replied “to be bitten by a mosquito.” He then laid this one on me; “that just proves it’s the little things that will get you.” The little things do add up to make a big difference. Have a great week.
Can you believe I managed to talk about the importance of process and did not mention Ray Kroc or McDonalds Once? Oops, I did it.