Last week had me finishing a course in Java, this week has me starting another one. For the next couple of months I will be studying business development and change analysis. This means that some of this will leak onto this blog, starting from today!
Today I'm writing about processes in a introductory way. What is processes and why should companies care about them?
The Case for Process Analysis
Processes are always present in whatever a company does. However, they are not self-evident! While companies and their leadership often focuses on organisational structure, these are not what produces an outcome that satisfies a customer's needs. Organisational structure's may be easy to identify and modify whenever some need arises, but it doesn't address the production per se.
A product (may it be a physical product, a service or a mixture of the two) is the result of some process, i.e. production. A process is the repeated utilisation of linked activities that uses information and resources to satisfy a need.
Focusing on processes instead of organisational structure means to put emphasis on the values being produced. A value only makes sense in regards to the need being satisfied. This does in turn mean that process-minded businesses are customer oriented, since it's the customers' (and/or stakeholders') needs that are being satisfied. While "solutions looking for a problem" may still be around, a process focused business is more likely to build a solution for an identified problem.
The benefits of focusing on processes is that it explains how to create value, satisfy a customer's need, use resources, and be more efficient. Not focusing on processes means that these benefits may not be incorporated, as processes won't be identified unless active efforts has been taken to make it so. Processes are often cross-sectional. Without an active effort, the responsibility for a process in unclear. Even with an active effort, the cross-sectional character of a process means that it can be difficult for one department to oversee the process in another department. A process should account for these different hurdles in its way so that it efficiently can address the needs that it is supposed to satisfy. Process analysis is the tool that businesses can use to shed light on its different processes.