HOW DO WE DEFINE PROCESSES?
Traditionally, processes have been defined as series of transformations of inputs into outputs. The key characteristics of this description of a process are that transformation means adding creating value in one of three forms.
Model of the process:
- Time value: Products services are provided when required;
- Place value: Products/services are provided where required;
- Form value: Products services are provided how required.
This traditional view of ‘a process’ has got many shortcomings however. It fails to identify, amongst others, the following key points:
1. How can a typical process be determined?
2. Where the value does added activity start and where does it finish?
3. Where does process management and control take place?
Each activity (process) has to be properly documented to include the following:
- Process ownership should be clearly defined with responsibility for improvement
- Boundaries for each process should be clearly identifiable;
- The flow of each process has to be well understood;
- Process objectives should be clearly identified;
- Process performances should be measured against its objectives;
- Process performance measures should be checked for validity already determined;
Process documentation by answering the above questions is vital if organisations are to achieve superior performance based on TQM philosophy. This effort (documentation) will reflect three main points:
- That strengths and weaknesses of the organisation are well understood. This
- That control over activities is tight, since process ownership responsibility has
- That performance measurement is a distributed activity thus reflecting the overall means that competitive objectives are realistic and tangible; been allocated throughout the organisation; effort in adding value.
‘Process improvement is the continuous endeavor to learn about the cause-and-effect mechanisms in a process to change the process to reduce variation and complexity and improve customer satisfaction. Improvements are made through actions that are based on a better understanding of the cause system that affects process performance.’