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Controlling Your Process

To control a process is to control much more that you might think. If you are responsible for a whole process, you need to understand if that process involves more than one organization. As many processes do, you also need to have control of the process in those other organizational units, even if you are connected to only one of them.

If the process flows between companies or organizations, you need to make sure that you have a counterpart in the other organizations. You and the other process leaders must make sure that you share the view of the process, and that you work tight together in order to make sure that the process delivers the right value to your mutual customer.

As I mentioned in an earlier Business Excellence Article about using the BPM technology to control your process, that the process engine must be independent from the line organization. That does not mean that an organization might not own the BPM software and take care of it, but it do mean that the process engine must be possible to control the whole flow of the process, from end-to-end. And that means that the control many times goes outside the organization that owns the software.

An error that many organizations do is to think that the process that they identify is one that is only within their organizational unit. They then think that the process starts when something comes into them, and that the process ends when something leaves them. If you do like that, you make sure that you do not take a look at the process from the customer’s point of view. The customer experience usually starts long before that something enters the organization unit.

To make sure that you spot the whole process, you need to look at the customer experience. First of all, who is the customer that needs your value? What is it that the customer then wants out of contacting you? How many partners are involved in satisfying the customer?

The last answers give you those organizations that are involved. Some of them you surely know of, and some you have not thought of. Some of them are within your company or larger organization, and some of them are outside.

An example might be an elderly person, Martha, 82, living in a geriatric care. If Martha fill ill she process of getting care and feeling better, starts with her getting in contact with a doctor on site. The doctor then decides that she needs to go to the hospital. She gets a transport to the hospital and on her way through the health care system she meets several doctors from different departments, and also the ambulance staff that belongs to another unit.

Looking at it from the ambulance organizations view, it is simple to understand that their process starts when they get the call to pick Martha up. And it ends when they left her at the hospital. And if they do not control anything else than that process, they miss out of things that could make Martha’s experience better.

First of all, they must understand that they are not the first contact for Martha. They are not the one that supposes to control the whole process. They must also understand that Martha is their customer, not the person that made the call. As the process starts in the geriatric care, and that is where Martha has her first contact in this matter – not feeling well. She also has daily contact with them at the geriatric care, as that is where she lives.

If those people then in the geriatric care could manage the process of getting Martha to feel better, they could make sure that she feels more comfortable. Many times when an old person is feeling ill they have an extra burden of carry, as they get more worried. An older person is generally more fragile when getting ill. That means that the customer value in this process is not only to get Martha feel better, but also to make her feel well taken care of during the process. The people that knows Martha best is the staff at the geriatric care. She might not have any relatives close by, so she needs to feel safe with help from the staff. Their support through out the process is the essential for Martha’s well being.

The same goes for the ambulance staff, that needs to take care of Martha from the beginning and helping her all the way to the hospital, making the transit as good as possible. And the same goes for the hospital where Martha goes through many different departments, they need to make Martha both feeling comfortable and treat her well.

Unfortunately in this process, my experience tells me that all these partners are not talking to each other and make sure that they see what is best for Martha. The geriatric care sends Martha away, but do not follow her. The ambulance crew treats her if it is life threating, but otherwise act as a transporter. The different departments take care of Martha, but they do not see that she is on her journey to become better, but instead as another patient coming in through “that door”, and then sent out through “the other door”. Mission accomplished! Or maybe not!?

It is important to control the whole process flow, in order to make sure that you take care of the customer and make their experience of the process a great one. And as processes many times flow through several organizations, you as the process leader need to control the process even on their turf, making sure that you all focus on the customer.

Be bold, and take control of the flow. If you do not, nobody else will. Step up to the challenge!

To you and your business’ excellence.