The APQC Blog

Long Awaited PCF Updates Have Arrived

It’s time to update the Process Classification Framework® (PCF)! As the steward of the world’s most frequently downloaded process framework – with over 100,000 downloads a year – APQC is accountable to you, the process framework consuming public to keep the PCF up to date. This year’s changes are very exciting – at least to framework geeks like me.

The change process for the PCF begins WAY before the actual framework is ready for distribution. The first part of the process is where we receive the feedback from folks like you who use the PCF every day. We literally get hundreds of questions, suggestions, and pieces of feedback about the PCF each year: from suggestions like “translate this into Polish!” (done!) and “add a category for Cat grooming” (not really, and no, we won’t add it.) But seriously, we do get a lot of feedback. The biggest part of a PCF release is sorting through all of this feedback and prioritizing it into a set of meaningful changes that you will value. So – yeah, we’ve done that. We sorted through literally 107 suggestions from one organization ALONE.

Suggestions from users are not the only source of changes. We take quite a lot of changes from within – from the frameworks that are in the field and updated for a specific industry. This year, we took dozens of changes from industry-specific frameworks and incorporated them into the cross-industry framework. It’s probably the best way that our cross-industry framework evolves with the times.

Now that we’re through with all that sorting and prioritizing, it’s time for me to let you know about the stuff you’re going to see when the framework is released later this month. Let the show begin!

Changes From Other Industries

This set of changes is probably the most interesting for me. You may remember that we updated all of our industry frameworks to version 6.1.0 or better in 2015. That was a lot of work, trust me. But in the course of doing so, we also identified a number of process elements within specific industries which are relevant to more than just the industry they were defined within.

When we take changes into the industry-specific frameworks, we try to do so with an eye to expanding the definitions of things in the cross industry framework if we can. What we find is that the industry specific changes are sometimes more broad than the industry thinks. Consider process elements 16790 (“Identify intellectual property concerns”) and 16791 (“Evaluate IP acquisition options for external IP licensing”) which are making their way into the cross-industry framework from the consumer electronics PCF. These process elements add richness to the cross-industry framework and really help us advance the state of the process management art. They’re definitely not limited to the industry they came from and will go on to live productive lives in other industry frameworks as well. These are just two examples of a much more prolific set of changes you’re going to see in PCF v7.0.0.

New Content From Outside the PCF

Beyond feedback on the body of frameworks as a whole, we also consider additions from people’s experience in business and the way things are done. These additions are completely novel in terms of the PCF – they don’t exist anywhere. Most of these are consistency enhancements, designed to make sure that core concepts in the PCF are as clear as possible. Consider the entirely new activity in HR “manage examinations and certifications”. It’s so new I’m still assigning a number to it. This is something which was tacitly included in the process for developing and training employees, but has become sufficiently important that it now gets its own process element in the framework. APQC framework developers and our partners make lots of suggestions like this one, and most of them are accepted because the PCF is a living document which is intended to grow and change over time.

House Keeping for the PCF

There’s one more place that changes can come from – and it’s big. The changes we get from people who are using the framework are by far the most valuable changes to us. It’s these changes that keep the framework relevant in actual honest-to-goodness usage situations.

Consider the most radical of changes we’ve done to the PCF in a long time: the split of category 4 into two. This is a massive change and will result in a new framework that has 13 high level categories rather than 12. This change came from actual practitioners – people using the PCF in the field to really get work done. My colleague Jeff Varney is going to talk more about this very important change in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned for more information. Here’s a peek though: it’s about time we treated products and services companies differently in the cross-industry framework!

That kind of change – which helps advance the framework but doesn’t really add anything new from outside of it – is not the most common type of change, but it’s one which drives so much of the work, and some of the kinds of changes were most excited about. It’s like housekeeping – so important, but so much work.

General Availability

PCF v7.0.0 will be officially released at APQC’s 2015 Process Conference this month and available for download shortly thereafter. Those of you who have registered on APQC’s website will be among the first to download it. As always, it will be available at no cost from at www.apqc.org/pcf. We look forward to hearing from you about this awesome update!

You can follow John on Twitter @JohnGTesmer and join APQC’s Process Classification Framework LinkedIn Group.