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Entries in BPO (1)

Wednesday
Apr242013

Why resist process?

We’re admittedly process consultants, and have a bias towards supporting process.  That said, we see a number of instances where process is resisted.  Why?

One client asked for a gap analysis of their processes to industry standard process.  We started down the path of a binary (yes, you have the process….or no, there is a gap.)  As we got further into the engagement, we were struck by the naiveté of this approach.  While technically NONE of the processes were documented, the truth is the organization was following a process.  So a binary wouldn’t fairly evaluate status.

A colleague suggested a shift to something more of a Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) approach.  In this approach, we evaluated the Maturity of the processes.  Using this approach, we were quickly able to evaluate a series of processes and their current and intended maturity. 

What we discovered was a series of processes suitable for the existing business, largely operating on the “tribal knowledge” of a series of long term employees.  Adding staff was a challenge, as this knowledge needed to percolate to anyone new to the group.  This often took time, a rare commodity in this growing organization.

That said, the only way for them to grow and leverage their processes was to document them, in simple, clear language, so others could be brought to bear.

Sometimes it seems process is equated to bureaucracy or a way of doing things in the least efficient manner.  The US Tax Code comes to mind as the working example.  Well-designed process does not need to be bureaucratic…if anything, it should be enabling.

Another client was working on the handoffs between various parts of the organization.  In (lightly) documenting the process, some “sticking points” were apparent.  We challenged the process owner to address those sticking points.  “Oh, I am concerned about rocking the boat.”

Our view is simple.  Improving process can be incremental or disruptive.  Either approach has merit and application.  If you’re not improving the business process…then you are not making a difference.

“Process” is not a four letter word.  Process is important in achieving consistent, repeatable results. 

Some organizations are successful delivering business process outsourcing (BPO).  How have they done this?  They’ve passionately tackled certain processes and optimized every step.  Certain functions lend themselves nicely to business process outsourcing (payroll as an example.)  It’s our belief non-core business functions should be considered as candidates for BPO.

Core functions should be where businesses focus their attention on optimizing process.