The following list represents the Key Service Objectives (KSO) for the Appleton Greene Process Excellence service.
No business process operates in a vacuum, nor does any business system. Before any work on Process Excellence can be undertaken is it important to gather a detailed understanding of the business environment in which all processes operate. This is fundamental to process excellence. This will indicate key suppliers and customers as well as alternative or additional business streams. Additionally, critical “support” processes will be identified, which may contribute to new solutions. A systems approach will indicate key feedback loops within the system which need to be observed or which may contribute as inputs to problem processes. It is often a surprise for senior managers to work together to see their organisation mapped. It often leads to a clarity of understanding as to what the key and core processes are. Such an approach will identify the “golden thread” which must run through all processes in order to fulfil the organisation’s objectives. It also identifies initial areas of concern or excellence which can be used to commence work on. Before this mapping is completed process Reviews for all process may be carried out, unless it is very clear which processes need to be improved. An important output of this stage is an agreement on the processes to be improved, and the selection of key staff who will be involved in the process. This will allow for a detailed analysis of training needs and current skills of those who may be involved in the project. In addition, it is important to ensure that this initiative is communicated across the organisation. Such communication may be through large “conference” type meetings, but are better managed through small workshop groups across the company. It is important that everyone in the company is given the opportunity to embrace the initiative.
The Process for improvement may come from any area of the company; ideally, but not solely, multi-functional processes have the best value in process excellence initiatives. (Thus an issue with cash collection may cover finance, sales, and order processing.) The details shown below apply to all processes which are selected for improvement. Having identified the processes for improvement, and reviewed the skills matrices, the potential team members are gathered together for workshops to explain the methodology that will take place. In particular, the importance and use of PDCA will be discussed with the teams. The group will first be facilitated in understanding the current process from inputs to outputs and production of the one paged summary document (SIPOC). In order to understand how each process operates currently the team will together produce detailed flow charts of the process, highlighting areas of concern to address, and of excellence to build upon. Further understanding as to how the process runs today will be gained by looking at data for current performance. If this does not exist in the appropriate format, it may need to be gathered again as the process run, which can be in itself a useful exercise. Having gathered the data the teams are taught to and then analyse the data. The analysis primarily concerns Statistical Process Control (SPC), and may be done using software (Baseline, WinChart and Minitab) depending on the Clients current and future needs. At this early stage it is useful for some sort of Visual Management to be introduced by each team. (These would include team details, up to date performance data recorded in SPC charts and any other information useful to outsiders). These serve as useful places for regular meetings about process performance. The process reviews of the as-is processes are summarised onto one page documents, showing key process steps, areas of concern and excellence, and customer needs and expectations. These are submitted to the senior management for review and comparison with the initial systems map.
Appleton Greene & Co Global – Successful change and process excellence should be built on existing strengths within the organisation. For this reason, Strength based change methodologies are applied; these allow the organisation to build on and appreciate what it has and continues to do well. In doing this change is seen in a positive light, and the adverse effects of “deficit” based change are avoided. A key element in the process improvement is the selection of key players within the organisation who can be used to encourage and drive the initiative. In this context they become “change leaders”. They will work as team leaders; process based teams will be heavily involved in the change process, in order that the initiative is accepted and embrace the changes making it “theirs”.
This step takes place after each team have completed the Process Review for their process. Thus this may be running at different times throughout the organisation for differing processes. Building on the work completed so far, the team needs to understand what is causing the variation in the process, and, if unacceptable, what can be done to improve it. Some of these improvements may come from the initial flow charts, but it is important to ensure that no changes are made to processes without an understanding of the expected results of the change. The data then coming from the process is checked to see if these expectations have been met, and if not, why not. This stage involves imparting skills in analysing data, and in developing new theories. These methods will be taught to teams at this stage (Lateral Thinking and TRIZ). Distinction is made between “quick wins” and “longer term solutions”; the difference being defined by the organisation, but essentially seeking that quick wins are low cost, easy to implement and reversible. Throughout this stage data will be collected from the process and monitored in SPC charts, and displayed on the Visual Management boards. A key aspect of these charts is the ability that operational staff have to monitor the process themselves, and to act to keep the process in control.
Once a process has been improved and is meeting the levels required for it, it is necessary for the improvement team to prepare to withdraw. This is done by standardising the process in its current form. The improvement team will document in high quality how the process runs today. It should also define the terms under which changes to the process may be made, if any; In particular it should address in detail how often data is to be recorded and monitored, and the actions for the operating teams to take in case the process ceases to be “in control”. The initial one page document produced by the team should be updated by the team to reflect the current reality, and should be displayed prominently on the visual management board. As the process is handed over the role of the Visual Management Board is increased, as it will show any actions taken to address out of control situations in the process; it continues to be a useful aid to senior managers who walk from process to process. It is therefore important that this board is kept live and managers involve themselves to ensure it is used and up to date.