When a company becomes established, processes are a must. They guarantee consistency and quality, and with time, we rely on them, freeing up space, so we do not have to remember every necessary step of a transaction. As a result, we have more room to think strategically.
Processes capture the state of a company at one point in time, but companies and people are constantly evolving, and processes must do so as well. If processes are not designed to be resilient, they will be too rigid and become either a burden or eventually collapse, losing all the hard work of documentation and implementation.
To make processes perpetually relevant, they need to be able to evolve. They need to be resilient, in other words, so that they can adapt to the changes that occur around them yet strong so they can maintain their purpose. The problem then becomes how to make the processes more flexible and durable. Here are some strategies that I have used at my company, Celaque, to make our processes as resilient as possible.
1. Each user is the owner
Each person oversees his or her processes. When someone enters our company, one of the most important parts of training is around how processes work and how they belong to each team and person. As a person starts to rely more on them. processes thus become tools that support that person in performing the role, rather than an imposition. By taking ownership, each person will adapt them as it becomes necessary.
2. They are easily reassigned or moved
The software you use should allow quick changes to the assignee, dates, and descriptions. If a person is away on vacation or any leave, he or she can easily reassign the processes to another person or move them to a different date. In the case of a new employee taking over another person’s role, then these 7processes can be easily reassigned to the new employee.
3. Make them as short and simple as possible
The best descriptions are those that are as succinct as possible, as too much text is distracting, and the point of the process may be difficult to find. As long as the formatting is also simple and standardized (see Configuring Processes to Gain More Efficient Results), people will be able to get to the heart of the process much more quickly.
Whenever we review processes, we check to ensure that they are not too wordy and that the formatting is standard for the company. We ultimately ensure they have all the important information in the simplest way possible.
4. Make them valuable
If a person comes to rely on processes and sees them as a strong support tool, he or she will be more likely to value them. For processes to be valuable, they must contain all the necessary information in the simplest way possible. A phrase attributed to Albert Einstein says it best: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Because processes are created organically as the company grows, they will inevitably need continuous refining.
5. Improve them as often as possible
If certain processes are no longer relevant, they will eventually become an anchor rather than needed sails. As events and circumstances constantly change, processes must follow suit to stay up to date. This idea is reinforced by the two prior points: ownership and making processes valuable. The more ownership someone has over his or her processes and the more valuable they are, the more likely the process’s owner will keep them updated.
Furthermore, in addition to the improvement that each user makes, it’s helpful to hold a process review procedure every six months or every year to ensure that everything is up to date. Every time that we review processes, we make improvements. Even if nothing has changed any given procedure, we have still grown and learned. We see enhancements we can make that we might not have considered previously.
6. Changing them is easy
The less bureaucracy there is to make changes to processes, the better. Processes are the programming for how a company operates (see How to Program Your Business Processes Like a Professional Coder), so they should be altered carefully. However, making changes should be easy for the user. If there are too many steps, people will be reticent to make the necessary modifications when the time comes.
We have an easy-to-use change request form in our company that spells out all the information required to make a change. The person requesting the change assigns the form automatically to our processes team, who receives it and programs the changes. Because we make sure we do not modify our processes by mistake and that their content remains relevant, we review all changes carefully and quickly.