Part four of a four part series by SoftExpert, Roger Tregear, a manager at Leonardo International and Ian Huntly, CEO of Rifle-Shot Performance Holdings, representatives in sub-Saharan Africa of SoftExpert, a market leader in software and services for enterprise-wide business.
In this final part of the series on process, process improvement and process management, effective measurement methods will be looked at.
Measurement methods
In assigning measures to processes, users must be careful that, for each measure, there is an effective measurement method. It is too easy to create a measure for which the data gathering is very difficult or costly, or perhaps just not practical. Where will the data come from? Does it already exist, or will users have to create a new process to collect, collate, and analyse it?
Is the measure even quantified enough to allow effective data collection? If someone says the laundry service was going to be “the best in town” what do they really mean? Perhaps they mean that “98% of customers will rate them at least 8,5 out of 10”. Where will that data come from? How much? How often? At what cost?
For every process whose performance they are going to actively measure, they need a practical, reliable, accurate (enough), cost-effective measurement method for each measure.
Mistake proof
A process that has been made “mistake-proof” does not need to be measured. If a process cannot fail to meet its performance targets, users don’t need to measure anything. Unfortunately, that happy circumstance is not to be found in this world.
However, there are things users can do to most processes that reduce the likelihood of poor performance. To the extent that they can mistake-proof a process, even in a small way, users may remove the need to measure some aspects of performance. They can’t measure good performance into a process. Measurement for its own sake is waste, so they should do whatever can to remove the need for measurement.
For example, users might develop a better understanding, and ability to measure and forecast, process capacity utilisation so as to avoid over-stressing the process. Automated responses might be triggered as a process nears a capacity limit, beyond which performance problems would be inevitable.
Other software or mechanical controls such as calendar reminders, approval limits, checklists, pop-up information screens – may help reduce the possibility of errors.
Record measures
The importance of the final step is often underestimated. There is a need to collect all of the analyses in a form that makes them available to all who study, manage and execute the process.
Some form of enduring record must be created in a standard, accessible form. This data may be kept in simple tabular form, or may be part of the repository associated with an appropriate modelling tool. The important requirement is that it is complete and available.
Common failure modes
Most organisations do not do effective process performance measurement. Many don’t do it at all. If users are not measuring process performance then they are not doing process management, and they cannot know if they are doing process improvement.
In conclusion
Organisational performance improvement means increasing the value exchanged with customers and other stakeholders. Process-based management offers the potential for significant, sustained and controlled improvement in areas that really matter.
Organisations, and the people who work in them, must embrace the search for improvement that can only come from measured underperformance. Improvement and management of business processes demand that users determine performance targets, collect performance data, and make decisions based on process performance outcomes.
Measurement of process performance is the Achilles heel of many initiatives to develop a process-centric enterprise. It must be the cornerstone.
To deliver on the promise of BPM, users must be measuring processes.