Business and organizational development is about business process change: not as in “process change – the event”, but “process change – the journey“. Your business processes change in response to market forces, competition, regulations, customer demand, the economy, culture, personal beliefs, and many other factors. The question isn’t about what is causing the business process changes — we know your business processes are going to change — the question is do you have a plan to document processes and procedures?
Dateline: Utopia, Somewhere in the Near Future
In Utopia, we define our business processes as we develop them. We plan for the inevitable by formalizing many of our processes. Granted, there are some processes that are so simple, it doesn’t make sense to document them. Where it makes sense, we make a plan to document processes and procedures so that, among other things, we:
(a) have a baseline for improving them and,
(b) can train people, should the need arise.
Staying Ahead of Change
However, we don’t adhere to our procedures so rigidly that we’re unprepared for change. We review our processes routinely – as we’re in the midst of them, and on a periodic basis – so we know if we’re getting the results we want. This way, we also know if we’re making our customers happy, if we’re staying abreast or ahead of the competition, and if we’re taking advantage of every opportunity.
Some time ago, we were fortunate enough to learn from some of our mistakes. One of those mistakes which almost cost us dearly was writing our procedures without knowing where we were coming from or where we were headed. Basically, we were told to document key processes in order to be compliant, so we jumped in to document those processes without a plan.
We didn’t take a look at the big picture, at first. We didn’t understand that we were parachuting into a continuous journey somewhere in the middle of it. It was like being set down in uncharted territory without a plan, let alone the proper provisions and tools.
After several unsuccessful attempts to make deadlines and meet other ill-defined or undefined requirements, we came to the realization that we were starting our journey in the middle without a clear view of where we came from, where we were headed, or how we would get there. Without a clearly defined plan to document processes and procedures, our journey was always arriving at the same destination: Failure.
How many times have you had to document something and wished you had a map showing “You Are Here”? Or, wished you’d started with a better plan to document processes and procedures?
Planning and Implementing Business Process Change
Your business process procedures journey is driven by your business needs: need to survive, need for effective process change management, need for process consistency, need for process compliance, and need for process control. Your entire business model is in jeopardy if you fail to:
- Adapt to change;
- Build repeatable business processes;
- Adhere to process standards and guidelines;
- Observe regulations; and
- Manage your business processes — and process change — effectively.
You can achieve effective business process change management, process consistency, process compliance, and process control by focusing on your business process procedures journey (Figure 1).
Plan To Document Processes and Procedures
Notice how we talk about processes and procedures together. Your business model is a system of processes. Business processes need to be identified, communicated, and reviewed for there to be an effective change management process, with effective opportunities for business growth in place.
In Figure 1, the procedure writing steps are colored in red, to signify their optional status. Not all processes require procedure writing; there’s a lot of overhead tied to every business procedure you write so that the more business procedures you write, the more procedures you have to edit, implement, train people on, audit, and review. Only company procedures required by standards, regulations, or company strategy must be developed.
Working On Your Business
Michael Gerber’s book, the E-Myth, explains how important it is for entrepreneurs to think about working “on” their business instead of “in” their business. Working too closely inside of your business processes is sometimes referred to as “business myopia” — being too close to your processes can keep you from advancing on the business process procedures journey.
Once you start working on your business — not in it — you can identify key business processes, practice communicating critical business process metrics and information, and review those business process metrics against the changing marketplace. Now you are in control of your business process improvement.
Business Process Procedures Journey
In total, there are six steps of the Business Process Procedures Journey:
- Process Procedures Project Management
- Process Mapping and Process Design
- Required Procedures (optional steps)
- Process Procedures Implementation and Training
- Process Procedures Audit
- Process Procedures Review and Change Management
You can use the individual steps to focus your organization on adapting your core business processes to business process change, build repeatable business processes, adhere to process standards or regulations, and manage your business processes more effectively.
Download sample policies and procedures that will provide you a plan to document processes and procedures with templates from Bizmanualz.