Explaining Process Excellence

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Process Excellence covers a wide variety of methodologies, including Six Sigma and Lean, as well as technology (mapping and modelling, process automation, data analytics). Through this variety of methods, businesses can seek to continually improve and optimise the way they carry out work in the hopes of achieving better quality and efficiency, lower costs and improved customer satisfaction.

Process practitioners frequently define the role of process excellence as “to support and enable business strategy,” according to a survey of more than 400 individuals carried out by PEX Network and released as an in-depth pdf here.

Among the key findings in the survey were:

  • Linking process improvement with top level business strategy ranks as the number one priority for the second year running with 23.1% of process professionals citing it as their biggest challenge
  • Many companies (nearly 50%) have identified process excellence as one of the top priorities in the year ahead but a significant proportion of companies (32.2%) find it difficult to commit adequate resources and investment for process improvement
  • A low level of commitment to process improvement (low priority) is associated with a predominant focus on targeted quick wins, while a high priority focus on process improvement is most associated with improving processes across the enterprise
  • Many names exist for process excellence approaches and methodologies and this “brand confusion” may contribute to a lack of general awareness of process improvement as a core capability within companies
  • Investment in all categories of technology is up year on year, with “Big Data” and Analytics emerging as the number one investment area for the year ahead with 33.2% of professionals stating that it is a key investment area

Process professionals have, for the past two years, consistently cited “linking process improvement with top level business strategy” as their main process excellence challenge in the year ahead. Jeremy Tranmer, Operational Excellence Manager at mining giant Rio Tinto Minerals, said:

“It’s essential to tie any work I do here to the business goals otherwise I’m not going to get the support. Executive support will fall by the wayside as other priorities take over.”

Getting the balance right between having a clear vision understood by everyone in the company, supported by the right systems and processes, and achieving the results that management is looking for, is difficult for any company.

There are many different variations in how process practitioners define their mission at different organizations. The range of names that companies call Process Excellence also varies hugely. Some have been specific to the methodologies used to support process improvement such as Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, Lean, Business Process Reengineering, Statistical Process Control, etc. The problem is that there is no one single term that the industry has consolidated around that encapsulates the meaning or purpose of process excellence.

It is ironic that something that supports what all organizations must do in order to compete for business – carry out work, solve problems, manage projects, execute on strategy, continuously improve operations, keep customers happy – is not formally acknowledged as a function nor does it have any universally acknowledged name. This could be partly because process excellence practitioners often aim to make process excellence a part of the culture of the organization rather than think of it as separate from the day to day operations.

Currently, the vast majority of process excellence practitioners (64.5%), according to the 2014 survey, use process modelling or mapping tools to support their projects/initiatives. Workflow automation technologies come second in the list of tools, with 39.4% of respondents indicating some form of automation tool or technology is helping to support process. Document Management solutions for supporting the flow of documents through processes rank third with, 35.1% of respondents indicating that they already use a document management solution.

Dajon can help you with process excellence: Get in touch today for an informal chat about our Business Process and Automated Workflow Solutions, http://www.dajon.co.uk/contact-us

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