From Legacy Management Systems to Process Based Management System
The structure of the traditional business management system invariably consists of many text-based procedures . . . so many, in fact, that it’s not unknown for the workforce to ignore them wherever possible!
Part of this reluctance to use them is perhaps a function of their increasing redundancy. The text format of procedures was as popular in the early 1990’s as it is now, but, due to a lack of investment, these documents have never been re-structured to cope with the demands of today’s compliance and risk requirements. In fact, while the term process is an everyday term, few legacy business management systems are actually process-based. They are procedure-based with sporadic flowcharts and dizzying entanglement. But, due to ISO standard updates, the winds are shifting to a process based approach. As that iconic song from a bygone era once declared `the times, they are a changing`.
The ISO 9001:2008 and the end of Text Based Dominance
The ISO 9001:2008 eventually broke the mold by introducing the need for text-based procedures to be replaced, (where possible), with process. With the latest revision in 2015 (ISO 9001: 2015) further advocating that risk mitigation should be integrated into process, the common structural framework (Annex SL) which appears to be causing philosophical debate within the QHSE community, requires the traditional management system to be re-structured to a process based management system.
Why Change to a Process Based Management System?
To align with ISO requirements while remaining efficient, business management systems need a more flexible structure to manage the following elements, though this is not exhaustive:
- Processes to improve Performance through removal of waste & duplication
- Managing complexity of compliance to Quality, Health, Safety & Environment standards
- Controlling risk and the plethora of industry regulations
- Growing need for organisational & operational transparency
- Linking Competency & Training to process
Simply put, transforming from the cumbersome and expensive legacy management system to a lean, (mean) process based business management system model will simplify what was seen as complex and promote performance improvement. Let’s dig into some of the details of the process based-approach.
So what does “the process approach” to business management systems actually mean?
The process based management system approach manages all processes by creating an over-arching , holistic business model. This is supported by process overviews in alignment within the framework that reflects the way the company delivers their Delivery Model to customers.
For example, the model below represents the Value Chain of core, operational and enabling processes:
Once the design of the overall Business Model and supporting Process overviews has been graphically represented, mapping the business processes can then commence.
The Swim-Lane diagram format is fast to build using the right proven tool, is easy to understand and can be adopted across any industry. Some basic rules to maximize the value of this exercise are:
- Determining the boundaries of the scope ( from the high-level process overview)
- Creating Swim-Lanes for each actioner within the process map
- Using verbs ( the doing words), sequentially listing activities
- Identifying inputs and outputs of each process
- Adding supporting information & integrating risk
- Sense check to gain approval from group
- Setting metrics or deliverables per process to drive performance
Enterprise-Wide Navigation System
The Business Model below provides strategic and business alignment from the high level strategy through to the process level or where the Value Chain is located. Where organisations have more than one asset, Process Overviews can be created to reflect their business deliverables, while ensuring each model can access the core, harmonised processes suitable for all locations.
How to capture process content – the process mapping session
The traditional exercise of creating a process map using brown paper and coloured stickies might be seen as antiquated in today’s electronic age, with more companies realising the benefits of mapping their processes in a live environment. This method introduces greater flexibility, speed and therefore lower production costs to the exercise, with the results showing that there are greater efficiencies to be gained at less cost than pinning paper to a wall.
Using Swim Lanes helps each department and individual identify their responsibilities and gain a greater understanding of the overall series of activities.
The Process Map above simplifies the most complex of processes with each actioner owning a swim-lane which clarifies their actions within the process. With links directly to documents, databases, risks (as per ISO 9001) and automated workflow, this simple template is a godsend to employees by directing their efforts efficiently.
The Facilitators Role
This role need not be a senior manager or consultant, but someone who can guide the group of often cross-functional attendees to help steer the initiative to creating process improvement. Some preparatory work on the challenges that the process has thrown up in operation will help to manage behaviours during the session.
Some pointers for the Facilitator to recognise are, and again this isn’t exhaustive:
- Clearly setting out the objectives of the session
- Ensuring mapping the ‘as is’, before the ‘to be’ scenario
- Allowing equal level of input by attendees
- Keeping the session on track and focused
- Capturing targeted information, remembering to use verbs
- Avoiding complication, duplication & stagnation during the sessions
- Avoiding excessively long mapping sessions as they drain both energy and willpower to continue
A well facilitated process mapping session can be enlightening for the attendees, and can be hugely beneficial to the company’s bottom line. The concept of process mapping is in the words of the US President, “ a beautiful thing”…who can argue with that!
What are the benefits of the process-based approach to business management?
The benefits are substantial and far exceed the limits of this blog, but the primary and most effective benefit of the process based management system is the increase in visibility of individual roles and responsibilities. Some industry observers and bystanders comment that current Management System design is geared towards the QHSE Managers by assisting with the administration of the system and has not been written for the employees.
However the introduction of process is a significant move towards providing clarity and ownership of tasks to the people who need the information. The new process based business management system era begins . . .
So, in summation, here are just some of the advantages of implementing a process based management system:
- Simplification of the management system content
- Improved process efficiency, greater performance & reduced costs
- Improved visibility of work routines & practices with greater clarity of actions
- Creating harmonized processes removes duplication and improves consistency
- Easier navigation structure to access the right document
- Improves individual ownership of process and supports risk mitigation
- Aids control of multi-standard compliance – across all industry sectors
- Increases customer satisfaction due to transparency of operations
Written by Peter Shields, Managing Director, BusinessPort Ltd