Article

Oper­a­tional Excellence

Why every employ­ee of an organ­i­sa­tion should know its end-to-end processes

November 11, 2020

Authors

Greg Thistleth­waite

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

Suresh Morya

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

When it comes to moti­va­tion, many employ­ees lack one fun­da­men­tal ingre­di­ent in their jobs, say authors Mar­tin, Gold­stein and Cial­di­ni in their book, The Small Big. They have lost track of the sig­nif­i­cance and mean­ing­ful­ness of their jobs.

There are huge ben­e­fits in high­light­ing the pur­pose of some­one’s job.

When employ­ees under­stand the process­es that they are inte­gral to, and the inter­de­pen­dence that exists between them and oth­ers, they are more will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in iden­ti­fy­ing and imple­ment­ing changes.

Medi­um and large organ­i­sa­tions typ­i­cal­ly have well over 100 process­es. In most cas­es, these process­es have not been con­scious­ly designed but had evolved over time. This is espe­cial­ly true when process­es span mul­ti­ple indi­vid­u­als and departments.

Whilst indi­vid­ual employ­ees may strive to com­plete their tasks to their best abil­i­ties, they may not under­stand how their task affects the out­comes of the entire process. When com­pa­nies strug­gle to remain com­pet­i­tive, espe­cial­ly in sit­u­a­tions that require rapid turn­arounds (for exam­ple, ful­fill­ing an order on time in full, or address­ing a cus­tomer com­plaint), it’s usu­al­ly caused by inef­fi­cient and over­ly com­plex processes.

The best way to fix these prob­lems is to do it in part­ner­ship with the peo­ple that work with­in the processes.

Con­nect­ing employ­ees with processes

Almost all Renoir engage­ments include process improve­ment ini­tia­tives. Some of the key things we’ve under­tak­en include:

  • Ini­ti­at­ing cross-functional and mul­ti hier­ar­chy par­tic­i­pa­tion – from the shop floor to the head of depart­ments across all func­tions from the start to the end of the process.
  • Train­ing employ­ees to appraise the effec­tive­ness of a process.
  • Expos­ing employ­ees via job rota­tions to oth­er func­tion­al parts of the process.
  • Exam­in­ing process­es in detail, down to every step and every doc­u­ment involved.
  • Iden­ti­fy­ing crit­i­cal issues in every step of a process.
  • Per­form­ing root cause analy­sis to under­stand sources of problems.
  • Iden­ti­fy­ing pro­ce­dur­al changes to improve performance.
  • Improv­ing input and pro­cess­ing mea­sures to dri­ve bet­ter man­age­ment of outputs.
  • Digi­ti­sat­ing and automat­ing process­es where applicable.
  • Facil­i­tat­ing on-the-job coach­ing to dri­ve new prac­tices and obtain tan­gi­ble per­for­mance improvements.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, process com­plex­i­ty has increased due to changes brought about by the pandemic.

Many teams are now dis­trib­uted, with reduced access to man­age­r­i­al guid­ance. As a result, it takes more time and effort to find information.

If employ­ees lack process aware­ness, they may not under­stand the impact their work has on oth­ers – a clas­sic exam­ple being poor pri­ori­ti­sa­tion and exces­sive delays as new and dif­fer­ent process hand-offs are involved.

With an under­stand­ing of the high-level process, it is eas­i­er to redesign and/or rede­ploy tasks to suit chang­ing cir­cum­stances, lead­ing to reduced work dis­rup­tion, and smoother transitions.

Root out inefficiencies

We start our engage­ments by estab­lish­ing an overview of how things are – whether it is a fac­to­ry, a hos­pi­tal, a sales team, or an admin­is­tra­tive area. We observe how sep­a­rate ele­ments inter­act and build a full pic­ture of the organisation’s over­all process­es by ask­ing ques­tions such as:

  • How do employ­ees and depart­ments func­tion together?
  • How effi­cient­ly are tasks performed?
  • Is there any­one in the com­pa­ny who knows the end-to-end process ful­ly and can spot when and where issues are occurring?

It is often chal­leng­ing to dis­cov­er the answers to these ques­tions. Let us look at each ques­tion in detail.

1. How do employ­ees and depart­ments func­tion together?

We find out what par­ties are involved in a process and how they com­mu­ni­cate across depart­ments. We ask: what is not working?

Per­haps the prob­lem stems from a step that has been obso­lete for years but is still being done regard­less. Or is there a step being dupli­cat­ed by two departments?

Is the process tak­ing too long as an approval involves six peo­ple at the head office? Is a task being han­dled by three dif­fer­ent employ­ees, all of whom are doing it differently?

Iden­ti­fy­ing the opti­mum organ­i­sa­tion struc­ture to sup­port a process is much more impor­tant than most peo­ple realise – exces­sive hand­offs between indi­vid­u­als, between hier­ar­chies and between depart­ments is a key dri­ver of unnec­es­sary process complexity.

2. How effi­cient­ly are tasks performed?

Process val­ue addi­tion only occurs when a process step is oper­a­tional in nature, such as the machin­ing of a part, or cre­ation, com­bi­na­tion, and manip­u­la­tion of data.

In a per­fect world, there should be no steps that are inspec­tion relat­ed. Things will be done right at the first attempt. In a per­fect world, Work in Progress (WIP) or Infor­ma­tion in Progress (IIP) is kept to a min­i­mum and phys­i­cal or infor­ma­tion inven­to­ry (dupli­ca­tion of data) will be low. There will also be no delays between pro­cess­ing steps.

But as we know, we don’t live in a per­fect world. There will always be inefficiencies.

3. Is there any­one in the com­pa­ny who knows the end-to-end process ful­ly and can spot when and where issues are occurring?

Often, process­es are seg­ment­ed, and employ­ees are often only focused on excelling at their own tasks, ignor­ing the big­ger picture.

Take for exam­ple the batch­ing and sequenc­ing of work. Should an employ­ee tend to a task once a day or once a week? Does the employ­ee know which activ­i­ty is of the high­est priority?

Whilst work plan­ning is com­mon­place in man­u­fac­tur­ing, it is large­ly unheard of in busi­ness processes.

Gain­ing clarity

With the Fourth Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion under­way, we are see­ing a major trans­for­ma­tion in the way peo­ple work. This is dri­ven by glob­al high-speed inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty, omnipresent data in the cloud and cheap, scal­able dig­i­tal applications.

Process map­ping and reengi­neer­ing may seem “old hat” but it is still a major prob­lem. If you con­fig­ure inef­fi­cient process­es dig­i­tal­ly, they will still be inef­fi­cient. And despite the hype of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, human intel­li­gence is still required to ensure that process­es deliv­er goods or ser­vices as expected.

Renoir helps clients gain unprece­dent­ed insights into an organisation’s end-to-end process. And togeth­er, we eval­u­ate what works and what does not and how best to con­trol performance.

Through these ses­sions, peo­ple gain a new clar­i­ty about what their con­tri­bu­tion means and the role they have to play in address­ing inef­fi­cien­cy and com­plex­i­ty. And across depart­ments, we see col­lab­o­ra­tions that gen­er­ates even more ideas for improvement.

Ulti­mate­ly, when employ­ees are mobilised to rad­i­cal­ly improve their ways of work­ing, the effects go beyond just bet­ter results. They are more moti­vat­ed to seek out even fur­ther improvements.

Authors

Greg Thistleth­waite

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

Suresh Morya

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

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