The Right Process Delivers the Best Results

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In the recent project management workshop I attended, there was an interesting discussion about the needs to follow the process.

A great deal of attention was provided on how some organizations are casual about following the right process and they attend the problem seriously only when things went wrong or did not meet the expected outcome. This is the point that they regard as appropriate for self-questioning; “Do you follow the process?”

Following a process is indispensible, especially when it involves the creation of a product. A poor process or developing a product without following any procedural framework ultimately harms the customer and ultimately the organization.

My first-hand experience in dealing with an ongoing project right now, has given me chance to take a vivid and analytical look at the possible reasons that generally discourage people from following a process. Here they follow:

1.    A process may drive an organization to go through a lot of complications.
2.    Some processes comprise pretty lengthy steps when it comes to achieving the result.
3.    Some process are cumbersome or time-consuming.
4.    Many processes do not address situations as quickly as users expect.
5.    There is the fear that adhering processes may not reflect stakeholders’ expectations.

Organizations often incline towards shortcuts to fix the problem, instead of addressing it in a wholesome, comprehensive manner.

The biggest problem that organizations face by opting for such shortcuts is damaging overall structure of the process. In this way, the mobility of the process slows down or gets badly interrupted. Generally, such shifts to shortcuts for fixing problems quickly are inspired by instances that others in the same industry are following. Unfortunately, the ultimate result is failure of the project from achieving the desired result.

Moving as per the requirement of process is more time and effort consuming sometimes. It is also important to understand that there may not be any guarantee of success even though the decisions have been made as per the requirement of a process. There are some situations where the outcome of process implementation can be poorer than expected, despite the investment of adequate time, energy and investment. However, the chances of success goes further down and may lead to sheer dissatisfaction among employees if you opt for not figuring out the best process with the objective for best result in mind.

The Need to Establish a Process

Process building may be time consuming but in the long-run, you will realize that it saves you from experiencing unwanted complications. However, one is under the need to ensure that time invested in process development is constructive and it is done sincerely. In a nutshell, developing process correctly adds up the following values to your organization:

1.    Clear accountability.
A well developed and well managed process is like a mirror. Through this, you receive a detailed idea of the responsibilities and authority of stakeholders. Once stakeholders formally acknowledge to the responsibilities and authorities, automatically, they adhere to their accountability in terms of fulfilling the expectation from them. In case the expectations are not fulfilled, the concerned body receives a clear picture of what went missing and what additional or other sources are required to achieve the target.

2.    Quality assurance.
A well-managed process is a great way of determining not only the quality parameters, required for production but also measuring how far production process is actually fulfilling the requirement. Following the process means you have command over understanding quality of the output. However, changing the process would mean changing the results and means in which you earlier determined quality of the production output.

3.    An effective workflow.
Selection of the right process helps an organization to take everything into account, starting from planning to closure. Additionally, it helps with tracing the sources, required for executing every stage of process. Following the process ensures that the right information concerning production gets delivered to the right group of employees in the right format, at the right time. Ultimately, it helps with creating a better workforce.

4.    Preventive methods and corrective action.
A process is perhaps the most effective tool when it comes to receiving accurate details about finding out whether or not all departments are performing as per the expectation. In case, a project underperforms, it automatically gives you the alert and expresses the reasons why it is slowing down. You will also get to know what needs to be done to check the process of slowing down. It also helps you to validate the aptness of the measures undertaken to propel the project.

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How to Convince People to Follow the Process?

There may be countless reasons that teams and departments within an organization may provide when it comes to justifying the reason for not following a process. While the generalized observation is resistance from employees, on the other hand, it is crucial to find out the actual reason behind their reluctance, indifference of resistance in following a process. Once you get to know that, it becomes easier to deploy different methods for different teams/departments with the goal to convince them about the necessity for following a process.

During the implementation of a process, you may experience some resistance from a few of your employees. However, if the resistance persists, the best thing would be to go for one-on-one consultation with them. During these meetings, you need to find out why they are opposing this move and explain to them individually how can they benefit by following the process. Moreover, you will also receive a better chance for process improvement and finding a better solution to the problem.

If your target audience is limited in number then the best thing would be to conduct a separate meeting session for them. Whether the meeting is done on-line or in-person, such activities will help you employees to become more confident about accepting the process.

What Happen if Following Process Means You Will Fail?

The importance of collective discussion cannot be ignored in the context of determining the best process that needs to be followed to continue with quality production. If the collective session finds out that the process has not been productive, they may either chance it at the earliest or bypass it or create an exception for the same. Such collective approach works perfectly in small-scale or start-up organizations.  However, things become more challenging when you start applying the same strategy for larger organizations. In this case, the result, rather the outcome may not be as per the desirability. In case of larger organizational setups, the collective approach should pass through a lot of complication and procedural formalities that makes even the simplest of processes quite complex.

No process should be rigid. It is important that you develop a process with particular attention to flexibility. This is to ensure that user may amend it as per their respective requirement. This is the exact reason that makes many processes exceptional as they keep open alternative paths. Such exceptions are made either with an anticipation of requirements that may evolve in the future or to match with complexity level of the project.

While issues in a smaller organization could be resolved through a casual meeting, without the requirement of implementing any newer method, on the other hand, complex issues in larger organizations would require a highly structured process to resolve. Generally, in the later case, more numbers of employees tend to disagree about the success of a process in providing them with desired results.

Benefits of Following the Process

Process, as it has been described in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is, “A systematic series of actions directed to some end.” Keeping a process ready means, you have a direct access to reach the projected destination, step-by-step. Clearly, by following a process you actually experience the possibility of achieving success more clearly than while not following it.

The requirements of a project may change after it starts rolling. Clearly, the pre-determined steps for a process concerning the project need to be changed. In such cases, the pre-decided steps or instructions should also be changed in order to achieve the desired results.

It is important to ensure that several processes work together and are documented accordingly for attainment of the best results that the master procedure purports. Following the process makes sure that everything falls in place correctly starting from monetary allocation, the best use of the budget prescribed, maintain integrity between different branches of the process and finally, clients receive the delivery right on time, with adequate adherence to quality.

Convincing teams to follow a process strictly is quite challenging. It is important for employees to understand that without a strict and well-structured framework, chances of wasting time, quality and resources become increasingly real. On the other hand, by following a process such unnecessary and completely avoidable wastages can be managed. This is why every department should rely on a process and that should connect with the next.

Process implementers need to be perfectionists until it becomes ingrained within the whole team. Initially the habituation may seem like a strenuous method but with time working according to the process requirement will become natural. If required, then you may need to be strict and in the long-run the efforts will surely pay off.

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Monika Ardianto

Quality Management Consultant and Auditor at Monika Nonce Ardianto
Monika Ardianto is a Certified Quality/Operational Management Consultant with over 20 years of experience in improving quality management systems of large businesses. She is an award winning author of "Winning the Audit".

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