The APQC Blog

3 Biggest Struggles PCF Users Have

APQC’s Process Classification Framework® (PCF) is the best tool to standardize the language of your process steps, enabling you to accelerate your organization’s ability to:

  • consistently define processes,
  • manage governance,
  • enable apples-to-apples benchmarking, and
  • identify process knowledge gaps.

But, I’ll be the first to admit that the format of the tool can appear to undermine its purpose. If the mission of the PCF is to increase process management efficiency, it is not lost on users that to get the most out of it requires a lot of clunky, manual intervention.

If only there was a better way...

Use Case #1: “My organization straddles multiple industries”

The PCF is formatted as a Microsoft Excel file and comes in more than a dozen industry-specific frameworks, or as an agnostic cross-industry version. Combining frameworks today requires identifying and selecting the unique parts of each relevant framework, copy and pasting Excel rows between multiple files, and then renumbering the pieces.

As inefficient as that work can seem, there is tremendous value in integrating the best of various frameworks. For example, great engineering process steps can be found in the aerospace and defense and automotive frameworks, product innovation steps have been defined most recently in the consumer electronics framework, etc.

Looking beyond your industry isn’t intuitive and can require tribal knowledge of our process frameworks.

If only all of the industry versions of the framework could be accessible in one place...

Use Case #2:”I want to use the PCF for benchmarking, but it’s not clear how.”

The most difficult part of external benchmarking is finding apples-to-apples comparisons between different organizations. The PCF is a wonderful way of bridging the divide by standardizing the common steps and sub-steps.

APQC manages the world’s largest repository of operational benchmark data, all of which is tied to the PCF. It’s just not integrated.

A PCF user must first identify the PCF steps they want to benchmark, and then open the APQC  Benchmarking Portal to see if data exists for that process element. Then the user must download the data and manually link it to their organization’s PCF or related files.

If only the PCF was linked to the benchmarking portal...

Use Case #3:”I want to use the PCF to leverage APQC’s Best Practices research, but the integration isn’t intuitive.”

Benchmarking can confirm where you’re doing well, and where you’re not. And when an opportunity/need for improvement is identified, APQC members naturally want to know what the world class organizations are doing differently to generate better operational efficiency.

But today, much like the benchmarking portal, APQC’s Knowledge Base is housed separately from the PCFs. In other words, APQC members have to open the Knowledge Base and then search for relevant content (which is mapped to the PCF outline numbers in the cross-industry framework). If your organization is using an industry framework, which may be numbered slightly different than the cross-industry version, you’d have to use the unique ID number in the industry version to map to the unique ID in the cross-industry version and then use that outline number.

Access to the largest repository of operational best practices is incredibly valuable, but the lack of integration can turn off users.

If only the PCF was linked to the Knowledge Base...

APQC Is Working On a Better Way!

Despite this clunkiness, the PCF remains the best tool–the industry standard–to standardize your processes. But, that doesn’t mean the best can’t get better.

Attendees at APQC’s 2015 Process Conference will get a sneak peek at a new way to access the PCF. I’m sworn to secrecy, but I can say that it will fully integrate the PCF with the Benchmarking Portal and the Knowledge Base in ways that will resolve the issues raised above. It won’t go live until Spring 2016, but I’ve seen early versions and I’m blown away.

As early as March, APQC members PCF users will have a much easier time unlocking the value of the PCF.

More details to come. Watch this space.

Jess Scheer can be reached on LinkedIn  or by Email at jscheer@apqc.org
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