The APQC Blog

Where Does Good Process Management Start? Consistency

APQC asked process management experts about what great process organizations have in common and why bad ones struggle with process documentation. These experts will be speaking at APQC’s Process & Performance Management Conference October 3-4 in the “Managing & Improving Processes” breakout session tracks.

Participating experts:

  • Sophie Regnier – senior consultant, senior quality advisor, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Kevin Kaiser – information process and analytics lead, Raytheon

What do great process-managed organizations have in common?

Sophie Regnier: Great process-managed organizations don’t let the processes manage the organization. Rather the organization manages its processes and believes in and applies process improvement strategies. Instead of blindly pushing processes, they:

  • observe how their people are properly and effectively conducting processes,
  • build their processes to match, and
  • then monitor themselves and improve their processes accordingly.

“Document what you do, and do what you document,” and then work on doing what you do better and document that!

Kevin Kaiser: It may seem obvious, but consistency amongst functions, programs, and businesses is needed. Along with senior leadership support in the form of resources and policy, if necessary.  This is easier said than done, especially when you have large organizations (typically made up of acquired companies), disparate programs, company politics, and differing business objectives.

How can organizations document and support end-to-end process development, even with limited resources?

Sophie Regnier: Even with limited resources, organizations can build documentation and support end-to-end process development by communicating it’s priority. It helps to designate at least one person as a subject matter expert and provide them the time to lead and organize the effort. Then you can rely on task leads and experts to assist that person in documenting their processes. Once that’s done, you can then focus on maintaining documentation.

Kevin Kaiser: Collaborative toolsets that can define, diagram/develop, and maintain (including configuration management) the models seem to be the best option.

Why do organizations struggle to document and train specific roles related to process? And what’s the solution?

Sophie Regnier: Organizations struggle to document and train for specific roles related to process because it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. You don’t necessarily know what the roles are before you have a process, and without the process, you may not know what the roles should be. Perhaps the best way to figure this out is through trial and error, and that can only really be done by dedicating time.

Kevin Kaiser: Lack of leadership support and understanding the importance of (and adherence to) consistent processes. Which leads to a lack of resources to train employees on process essentials such as defining and maintaining consistent processes. Different programs like the ability to tailor processes to suit their particular needs. So, depending on the magnitude of variation, there is no definition or adherence to consistent processes. In many large organizations, that have grown over time through acquisition or consolidation of internal organizations, process variants have been developed and followed. So, it appears there is no value added to changing and following a so-called "stringent and consistent" processes.

I believe dedication must start at the highest levels of leadership. This is necessary to provide the resources to develop the process and train the people to develop, maintain, administer, and socialize or market the process.