Getting Started With The PCF

In 1992, a group of business leaders and process management experts created APQC's Process Classification Framework (PCF)® to help organizations communicate better. Within a single organization, five business units could have five different interpretations of the invoicing process, five different definitions for "inventory management," and five different ways to calculate product development cycle time. The PCF creates a common language by outlining all of the processes practiced by most organizations, categorizing them, and aligning them according to a hierarchical numbering system.

Organizations use APQC's PCF to:

  • identify and prioritize improvement efforts,
  • define and communicate accountability for business processes that need to be improved,
  • benchmark internally and with other organizations,
  • align IT rollouts and updates for similar processes across the organization,
  • establish structure for measuring performance,
  • understand dependencies and inter-connections across/between processes, and
  • consolidate enterprise content and knowledge.

To further support process definition, benchmarking, and content management activities, APQC provides definitions and key performance indicators for many of the process elements in the PCF.


Adopting Frameworks

Organizations typically take one of two approaches to adopting a process framework:

  1. Full adoption of a process framework such as the PCF involves uprooting the organizational structure and making changes to the organization to align with the processes in the PCF. This is a relatively rare circumstance across entire organizations, but some divisions and sub-groups may take this approach during reorganization activities. The benefit of this structuring is a clear alignment of work to the model of the work without a translation layer. Customization of the framework is typically significant and extensive.
  2. Overlayment of a process framework atop existing organizational structures or process models is accomplished through a mapping layer. While this is effective, it is time and labor intensive and requires significant understanding of both the PCF and the underlying organizational structures and alignments. In cases such as this, modifications to the PCF can be minimized and addressed in the mapping layer as needed. This is a much more frequently observed adoption strategy as the changes can be implemented "softly" and made permanent when and if the business needs justify it. Most organizations who overlay the PCF on top of their own frameworks usually do so to benchmark with other organizations.

Check out APQC's PCF and its industry-specific counterparts to decide if it could help you streamline your business. Read more about the implementation strategies below to determine your next steps.

PCF Instructional Videos

In these three short videos, John Tesmer, Director, APQC’s Open Standards Benchmarking, walks you through the history of the PCF, explains exactly why understanding the PCF definitions and hierarchy is critical to your success, and shows how certain companies used the PCF to increase revenue and save money.

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