The Practical “Process Approach” (Part 3)
By Michael Haycock, Sr. BRC Quality Consultant
In Part 2 of this series of articles we began to get into the details of identifying your organization’s processes. As a review:
Step 1 – Implement the Process Approach
Step 2 – Identify the processes of the organization
a) Define the purpose of the organization
b) Define the policy and objectives of the organization
c) Determine the processes in the organization, including ownership
d) Define process “supporting” documentation
This gives us the big picture…the “map of Canada”. To connect all the pieces you need to move into more detail…
Step 3 – Plan the process
a) Define the activities within the process
Having identified a MACRO process of the organization, how do we know, or believe these processes work? The amount, detail and complexity of the process should lead us to the amount of detail necessary in this exercise.
b) Define the monitoring and measuring requirements
What measurements are taken (or need to be taken) to give the organization the confidence the activities are being completed as required? This could be conducted carrying out our inspection and test techniques, our audits (internal and external) and the gathering of data to confirm our objectives and expectations have been met.
c) Define the resources needed
Who are the people involved in these processes and what are their qualifications? How are people identified as competent to carry out these activities? Do we have expectations for previous or prior demonstration of competency – or does the organization share those responsibilities? Are there legal requirements to carry out these activities (licenses, demonstrated ability, etc) and does the organization have the evidence to support these requirements?
d) Verify the process against the planned objective
Are we able to get done what we need and expect to get done – in the prescribed manner and time frame? Are we able to process 3 requests in an hour – if that is the expectation? Is our scrap rate at a certain percentage? Does our flight take off and land us at our destination on time?
I worked for an organization centuries ago (seemed like it) that had issued 55,000 credit memos in one year. This looked huge but as a new “Quality” manager I took this on as one of my initial tasks. No one had ever tried to understand or deal with this and my simple question was – “How can you stay in business like this?” We didn’t!
Step 4 – Implement and measure the process
Whether it is at a macro level or micro level how do we implement and measure? As stated at the beginning – unless you’re starting from a vacant lot there are processes in place. The challenge in that case is to identify and confirm what is already there – then to implement or modify what is missing or is not there as you need and expect.
Step 5 – Analyse the process
The information that we gather and accumulate needs to be analyzed and evaluated. Do we have the detail up to and including statistics to clearly understand results?
(You have a need to cross a river but you can’t swim. You have a report that, on average, the river is only 4 ft deep. You are 5 ft tall. Do you cross the river? Based on the information available you COULD be OK – but – my opinion would be to wait for a boat – the information does not seem to support the risk!)
Step 6 – Carry out Corrective Action and improve the process
Is your performance expectation as you expect and need? There will be a need from time to time just to fix a problem (Correction). There will be a need from time to time to actually look for the root cause (Corrective Action). There will also be circumstances where the process is working as expected but you recognize the need for improvement – and the opportunity has just presented itself.
Where we need to correct we should do so – or – look for improvement opportunities and perhaps even innovation. (With no restriction – money, time, people – how would the ideal process look?)
Hopefully this will be useful and practical both in understanding and application. To repeat ourselves, you could use the complete package – or – just the portions that will benefit you. Even if you have had your system in place for some time (or especially if it has been in place for some time) – there have been changes. What we have described to you is just a tool. Some of you may wish to use – some of you may already have a better tool.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”.
– Mahatma Gandhi
We just try to help with the learning.