Key Steps To Using a Process Framework

by Grant HEnson

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Process frameworks have emerged as essential tools for organizations that want to standardize their processes or seek guidance for process and performance improvement. However, choosing to implement a process framework is just the first step in a long journey. It involves a series of activities to ensure that the framework aligns with the organization's goals.

Understanding the Implementation Activities

A recent survey by the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) explored how organizations implement process frameworks. The survey respondents shared insights into the activities they performed during the implementation phase. The top six activities provide a roadmap for other organizations embarking on a similar journey.

Mapping All Relevant Processes

The first critical step is to map all relevant processes. Process maps standardize procedures and provide a snapshot of all the steps required to complete a task. Organizations use these maps to identify redundant tasks, establish a framework for process assessment and measurement, and simplify the training of new employees.

However, two limiting factors can complicate process mapping:

  1. Failing to determine which processes require mapping (relevancy).
  2. Lack of consensus on the mapped process.

If an organization attempts to map every process indiscriminately, it can lead to confusion about the purpose of the maps, their future modifications, and their communication to process executors. This approach can also divert focus from the critical aspects of process management, ensuring that process maps create value.

The key is to focus on processes that drive value. Aligning process management goals with the organization's strategic objectives simplifies this task. Without aligned goals, determining relevance becomes more challenging. To optimize resource allocation, organizations typically initiate mapping efforts based on a specific strategic objective or focus on processes that directly impact customer value, such as the customer purchasing process.

Adapting the Framework to Meet Organizational Needs

Since process frameworks are designed to be applicable to most organizations, they often need adjustments to fit individual organizational contexts. These adjustments may include:

  • Industry differences
  • Regulatory or geographical restrictions
  • Organizational terminology
  • Matching activities to how the organization executes work
  • Creating definitions for level four tasks, which are the tasks that typically require the most modifications as they transition from "what" to "how."

In Conclusion

Implementing a process framework is a comprehensive endeavor that requires careful consideration and adaptation to an organization's unique needs and strategic objectives. Mapping relevant processes and adjusting the framework to meet organizational needs are two essential steps in this journey. These steps, along with other activities identified in the APQC survey, can provide a robust guide to organizations on the path to harnessing the power of process frameworks.

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