Process Measurement Equals Better Process Improvement

Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland's picture

In the first quarter of 2017, APQC conducted its bi-annual survey to understand how organizations leverage its Process Classification Framework (PCF) ® to provide insights on the common applications and guidance around implementation tactics and common barriers.

Why do people use frameworks?

As you may have heard me say a few times, the most common reason people use process frameworks is to understand how processes relate to each other by grouping them into a classification structure. This, in turn, helps them figure out how best to get things done in the organization.  So to get greater clarity on this we asked people what were their typical applications of the PCF.

Top Three Applications

  1. Identifying current processes within the organizations—the PCF can be used a frame of reference for understanding what processes the organization already has, how robust and standardized they are, and if they are well documented.

  2. Building process maps and models—the PCF’s also supports organizations mapping efforts and can be used as a checklist of what activities the organization conducts (the process steps, the inputs and the outputs).

  3. Creating process definitions—because the PCF provides a standardized language it’s typically an initial starting point for the development of process definitions. This is further supported by the process definitions already included in the PCF.

The first three uses indicate the primary application of the PCF, is for foundational process-related work: discovery, definitions, or mapping. In other words most respondents are using the PCF for its primary purpose—as a reference model that they can use to understand their processes and create a model that ensures work is being accomplished efficiently and can be tracked and measured consistently.

What are organizations missing out on?

In the 2015 version of the survey the number three application was “supporting or managing process improvement efforts”, however this year the use came in at number nine. This was initially confusing because identifying improvements is a natural extension of foundational process-related work. Once the organization has established a common framework and mapped out its processes, it can then use the information it gathered during the process discovery and mapping activities to identify improvement areas.

To further widen this gap, the majority of organizations are not conducting ongoing process performance management or benchmarking as part of their implementation. In other words organizations are missing out on some the benefits of the PCF “….ensure work can be tracked and measured consistently.”

All of which begs the question…

…Why?

To understand the potential root cause of this trend we dove into additional survey findings and discovered that…

  1. Almost half (44 percent) of organizations are only at the developed stage (level 2) on the business process management (BPM) maturity scale. This means that they are characterized by some organized processes and have a structured process management approach. But they do not tie processes directly to performance measures and quantitatively manage performance.
  2. The majority (53 percent) have an ad hoc process improvement approach.

Simply put, not a lot of attention is paid to the performance management side of the process work. This means that organizations are missing out on valuable information that provides the context for understanding how to make the most strategic and high-impact improvements.  However this is not surprising.  As we discovered in research on the Seven TenetsSM, most organizations tend to focus on the discovery phase of their process journey or jump straight into optimization or improvement phase.

So how do we address the gap?

There’s a lot of research out that that looks at the intersection of process and performance measures process (including the links in this blog). However this intersection of purpose is where the measure component of MosaiQ®comes in handy.

Its manage tab features are great for the foundational work of building a process framework. However where it truly shines is in its ability to help move organizations up the maturity scale with performance measures.

MosaiQ’s Measure Tab

MosaiQ has all of the features of the PCF—process elements, definitions, and even suggested measures. When you pick a specific process element you can then use the measures tab to help identify the “right” performance measures for your purpose. Furthermore the measures tab includes benchmark data from APQC’s Open Standards Benchmarking portal for the relevant measure you chose and even cut by demographics like revenue, industry, or region—all of which can help you get started on tying process and performance together.

For more process and performance management research and insights, follow me on twitter at @hlykehogland or connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

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