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The Case for Simple Process Management

Get rid of overly complicated business process management. It is as simple as that.

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One of my friends is a CEO of a major hi-tech automotive factory in the EU. He can’t disclose much of what they do to me of course, but we like to discuss how they manage processes in general.

And here’s the thing: He said that if they want to change even a minor step in the main production process, it takes weeks!

First of all, there is a company policy and prescribed procedure binding not only for their particular factory, but for all the factories in the holding company. That procedure has to be initialized and followed to the letter.

Second, there is a chief process officer (CPO), who has to evaluate, possibly modify and finally approve the assignment or request, which has to be documented and reviewed by at least one manufacturing process consultant responsible for the production.

And third, the newly approved process tweak has to be implemented in a piece of process management software developed back in the 1990s. The software works, but it is rather outdated and there are few employees proficient enough to handle it well.

Unsurprisingly, as a CEO this is something he is not happy about. As the single most powerful individual in the factory hierarchy, he still can’t implement any quick fixes or changes. He has this huge bottleneck that has to be pushed through every single time they want to change things.

Now, there are other companies in the automotive industry which have solved this exact problem in a much better way and the fact that he knows this doesn’t make him happy either. But that’s not my point here.

The main point here is that good process management should never be a burden for the process owner in the first place!

Good process management should serve, not be served.

It should make things faster and easier, not to stop them dead in their tracks. And it should be open to inputs from various qualified individuals within the company in order to gather and streamline the total know-how for a given process.

Such a process is both a tool and an archive of accumulated know-how. And if it is meant to remain sharp and up-to-date, it has to be able to keep up.

Using clumsy software, overly formal process management, or having a complicated procedure strictly limiting the number of people who can improve the process, is a sure way to slow everything down and tire every eager person that comes in contact with these processes.

That’s why your company or organization needs simple process management in the first place. Simple enough to be accessible and understood by (almost) everyone. Simple enough to enable people to contribute their personal improvements and know-how and do it fast. Simple enough to enable beneficial changes, rather than dispel them.

Simple process management is agile, fast and open to people within your team or organization. And it should stay as such.

Robert Vlach, March 13, 2019

Business consultant, writer and EUpreneur. Proud founder of Procesoid and Na volne noze — one of the largest national freelance communities in Europe

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