How to use your process map to direct change?

Your process choice

How to use your process map to direct change?

A great start to either setting up a business or taking stock of where you are and where you need to be is a process map of what you want your business to look like. Starting with the end in mind as Stephen Covey said.

When you embark on this exercise you need to be able to close your eyes, use your imagination and see what your business is going to be like. Get yourself in the mindset of the end result business owner. Drawing up an organisational chart is an useful thing to do, even if you have to put you in every position at the moment, gradually you will follow the vision and replace yourself with others. Design your business the way you want it to run, one the risks of not doing this are the business grows organically. As you take on others they invent the roles as they go, each helping the best they can to shape the company following your lead. The result: A process that was not designed in the most optimum way to achieve your goal, worst case scenario you fall out of love with the business because it is not all you dreamt it would be.

With an established business there are two phases to process mapping:

  1. We have to map out where we are, document the status quo. This helps us see the big picture, identify risks and gaps within what we do; it also shows us improvements that can be made.
  2. What do we want our business to look like, if we could streamline, automate and have everything the way we plan how different would the picture be.

When we get stuck and need to move forward with our businesses we sometimes hit overwhelm, it can be easier to take no action because we don’t know where to start. There may even be a new picture and vision to follow which can be daunting. Perhaps you are at the stage where you need to take a growth step and employ or perhaps your outlook for the future has changed in what you want. Creating a picture of your business can make things much easier to understand, reasons for change become obvious. The process map then becomes a catalyst for instigating the desire for change within your team.

Try and picture each part of your process as a series of steps and each one needs to be defined. I want you to imagine the process as a series of customer-supplier relationships in a chain.

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When we set the right boundaries, expectations and requirements at each stage we will have happy customers throughout the company. This is what I call creating harmony in the workplace. Taking things step by step will enable you to understand the most complex of processes, and with your map you will be able to keep the big picture in mind.

So what now?

A client recently said to me about their newly designed streamlined process “I love it but I’m not sure what to do with it, put it up on the wall?” This is a phrase that I am hearing a lot of at the moment thank you so much but what next? It is good to have a passion for where you are taking your business but it has to be a catalyst in creating the next phase – the change process. The problem I have recognised is that a complete map can give you so much detail that it can put you into overwhelm, so much that you can’t see which step to do first. Here are my tips for approaching the next step to process improvement.

Create the buzz – Be prepared to share and listen

Share your vision, get people excited about what you are trying to do (Put your map on the wall)! Involve them in discussions, ask their opinion. This may sound obvious but there are many businesses I talk to where it is not their first thought to involve team right down to the front line.

Look at the framework

Make sure you revisit your values and vision together, are they complementary? Is everything you want to do in tune with your core beliefs and purpose? I often say that one of  most important questions after ‘what is your why?’ is ‘what are the the day to day decisions that have to be made to achieve your goal?’ If you want your team to make great decisions they have to understand this direction & purpose.

Communicate and listen

Once you are crystal clear on your objectives they need to be communicated. I don’t mean a poster on the wall, live and breath them, lead by example and get your team on board.

If you believe in your purpose with a passion, and tell your story to others, then your team around you will start to live and recall that story. Make sure all of this is communicated to the outside world too, your customers need to know your story. It’s is the same with driving changes within the company. When you are transparent and honest in what you do, listen to others opinion and explain why; you will get a much more favourable response.

Not many people like change, even less when they don’t know what is going to happen. Fear will set in and they will make up a story where there is none. We need to cut cost, jobs will be lost, the company’s in trouble; you know the drill we have all heard this type of gossip. Don’t let this happen to you, nurture open communication.

Plan for change

From your process maps you will have areas that need to change and new systems that could be significantly different to what people are used to. These changes need to be carefully planned and prioritised being conscious of the time and resources needed. You are not going to get the support and engagement from your team if you start putting them under too much stress, and likewise for yourself when you take on too much.

Itemise the areas in your process where you have found risks, gaps, duplication of tasks, inefficiency or possible automation. Your can always add to this list as you find other things on your process map. If you have taken your map to the next level and rewritten a streamlined version a lot of this will be covered in the report you receive.

This list can be split up into areas to help with project planning, for example the Sales Process, Finance and accounting, Operations or handling customer concerns and improvements.

I use my own tool (based  upon tools tool like PFMEA and risk analysis), It will enable you to think about the individual improvements and their impact on the business. The list of actions get rated or scored on impact, resources, investment and timescale, the result is a prioritised list based on fact. I am happy to provide a template and work through a prioritised action plan with you.

Don’t set yourself up to fail! Plan change step by step and include some quick wins to boost morale. It’s all about the strategy and the team.

Make sure the time and resources are planned BEFORE you execute your plan; there is nothing worse than having a team fired up and innovation stifled because they cannot access what they need to succeed.

Communicate your strategy for change

Let people know the big plan, the game changer! You want people to be excited about the end result and be part of it. You can choose champions for the projects and channels for the feedback such as boards, internal comms or social media. You need a platform that can be used to celebrate the success stories and the challenges ahead. If you are open about the choices you make, even if you make wrong decisions, being honest  will gain you support. Not everything will run perfectly, you are human after all; what defines us is how we rise after a fall. Learn from everything and turn it into an opportunity for improvement!

Take action

Now for the important bit, once you have a strategy for change you need to start taking action. If you are redesigning part of your process ensure you consider the big picture and links on the process map. Be mindful of the impact your changes can have on other areas of the process, the company goal and customer experience. Always follow the discipline of root cause analysis, prove your chosen solution, test and install. The success of your plan is down to you taking responsibility and action – if it is something you are excited about it should be infectious!

Celebrate achievements & milestones

One last thing – feedback and celebration. Change isn’t an easy path so don’t forget to stop and give yourself a pat on the back, when you do your business planning in fact write down the reward you are going to give yourself and your team for each milestone and do it!. Have fun and celebrate in style.

Also if you are doing great things talk about them, quite often there is work going on with the community and charity that don’t ever get mentioned, (I was guilty of this in the being).

Embed the change, support the transition

When you make changes do not overwhelm and change to much at the same time. Make sure people are comfortable with things before you move on. Your leadership, support and understanding at this stage will be critical to the success of the project. If you want a fun exercise to demonstrate what happens in change and where and why support is needed message me and I’ll send it to you; it will help others understand what is happening within the struggle for change.

A final word

Systems is not all about logic and sequence it is about people working together in harmony to achieve a goal. The thing is people are not always logical they have things like emotion and baggage. Then there is a thing called organisational climate, we all have our own take on what culture is ‘the way things are done around here’. Well climate embraces everything culture, leadership style, processes and how the interact with each other – the point is that all these things have a major impact on how people behave under different circumstances. Put people and process together,  communication and knowledge is key, I encourage you to think about your company as a learning organisation, become dynamic and fluid. Be flexible and don’t restrict yourself by what others believe. I know with the right direction, guidance and support you will always get where you need to be.

Have fun, you know who to ask if you get stuck !

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The ISO9001:2015 Revision – Your understanding starts here!

The changes are being labelled as significant and having a big impact on companies existing quality management system but I say don’t panic.

Overview

The intention of ISO9001 remains the same; to demonstrate a company’s ability to consistently provide goods and services that meet customer and legal requirements & enhance customer satisfaction. This is done by installing and maintaining an effective system with processes that embrace continuous improvement. The standard has a greater focus on the process approach and introduces us to addressing risk in our business for planning. I have listed what I consider some of the biggest issues but please bear in mind these conditions I see as essentials to every successful business. My thoughts are that you will probably be doing them already, if not why not? What you may need help with is knowing how to easily demonstrate evidence of this to an auditor.

Understanding Leadership roles

The standard emphasises the role of high level management in the creation, execution and support of the company’s quality management system. The role is clearly defined in terms of customer expectation and the quality management systes. You may always delegate but you are ultimately accountable for the effectiveness of the system.

What does this mean for you?

Your top management need to be actively promoting the awareness of the process approach and Quality Management System. They need to ensure that policies are understood, followed and your objectives are met. They should be engaging, directing & supporting staff that have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the system and promoting improvement and innovation.

This also includes their commitment to understanding and meeting customer needs. Management should understand the risks which affect the company’s ability to deliver a consistent service and focus on enhancing the customer experience.

RESULT = Competent people managers, who believe in the system and understand their customers.

Understanding the context of your company

When looking at the context of the organisation, this directly relates to your business strategy and position in society. It is done to ensure that you fully understand the risks internal and external that are relevant to the company’s strategic direction and ability to achieve the outcome set by your Quality Management System.

What does this mean for you?

In brief you need to understand the vision / bigger picture with an awareness of all of the interested parties, e.g. shareholders, government, customers, supplier chain etc.. Think about your relationships with these people, their perceptions and values. Look at your policies and priorities and know what changes and trends will impact your business, for example, economic and natural environment, technology, competitors. Everything addressed in defining the context of the company is then used to determine the scope of the standard = the boundaries of the applicability of the Quality management system.

Result = A thorough and relevant business plan that addresses SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and threats). This vision (plan) needs to drive the reason for existence and in turn define the processes and objectives of the Quality Management System.

Planning

When planning for your Quality management system you need to ensure that all we have discussed so far is used to determine the risks and opportunities that are to be addressed, you can then be reassured that your system will be designed to achieve its desired outcomes. You will be preventing or reducing undesired effects, firefighting and unpredictable cost. Be consistent and relevant to your core values and vision and make sure your actions are SMART (Specific, Measurable, assignable, relevant & time bound).

What does this mean for you?

Your business plan is not just a paperwork exercise you have to take action on your findings. You must prioritise and plan your actions and integrate them into your quality management system. Any changes have to take place in a systematic manner, ensuring you identify risks and document evidence.

Result = Addressing your current and anticipated  future needs can lead to the identification of improvement and innovation opportunities. Better for you, your staff, your customers and your bottom line. Documenting progress means you can easily identify factors that have affected changes in performance.

Knowledge & Competence

There is a greater emphasis on the competency of staff, particularly those having a direct impact on the effectiveness of your quality management system.

What does the change mean for you?

You need to be aware and maintain the knowledge and training necessary to assure your processes are effective, efficient and meet customer expectations. This needs to be assessed and recorded for evidence. This also I feel links to the awareness and communication requirements as management determine the need for internal and external communications relevant to the Quality Management System. Staff carrying out operations need to know and understand the objectives, know what they contribute and the implications of not conforming.

Result = You will be addressing the changing needs of the company and interested parties, as a result you will be aware of your current knowledge and skill base. This way you will be able to determine whether you need to acquire more and take action appropriately

Operations and Processes

You should be familiar with the process approach if not please message me and I will provide further info on defining processes. You must review the requirements related to goods and services prior to commitment to provide them – Contract review; this must be recorded. Processes must be clearly defined in terms of input, output, resources and controls. Changes to your processes must be controlled and reviewed to mitigate any adverse effects. For example when a change occurs, only when all actions arising from development have been completed and there is no adverse impact on the ability to meet customer and all regulatory needs can the change be put into production. Anything you outsource must also be controlled and the new revision of the standard goes into much clearer requirements for this.

What does this mean for you?

You must plan and develop your processes with clear criteria (input/output) and control. Implement and control your processes to ensure that you meet objectives and customer needs. Included in the objectives should be the actions you have highlighted that are required to mitigate risks, everything should be interrelated. You need appropriate evidence that provides confidence that these actions have been carried out as planned.

Result = Your processes are designed, maintained and controlled well to ensure your customer’s needs (internal or external) are met. Your ability to achieve, maintain and demonstrate your objectives becomes easier and more predictable along with predictable costs.

Performance evaluation and Improvement

The standard says that you must monitor, analyse and evaluate your performance. Determine what needs to be monitored, ensuring that you include any external providers as well and look at what the performance indicators are of the quality management system itself. The standard requires that you improve on the suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of your Quality Management System; it must also be audited and reported to management / management review.

There is no longer reference to continuous in the draft (this has been removed due to Annex SL terms), the term preventative action has also been removed as it is are covered by the assessment of  risk.

What does this mean for you?

Due to the approach of this new standard make sure you consider the risks and opportunities that your core business plan identifies. Define, establish and monitor your core processes and performance indicators, ensuring you act on your findings and report them back at management reviews. Continually assess via audits and KPI (key performance indicators) the adequacy and effectiveness of your Quality Management System to identify improvements. Ensure actions are appropriate to any nonconformity found and document actions taken for evidence.

Result = Changes / improvements in your system can come from many sources, internal suggestions, audits, analysis of data, changes in the context of the company, changes in the risks and new opportunities. When you evaluate these things for improvement you will always be moving forward. Just remember to prioritise these needs, engage your people and most importantly take action.

The formula for change – ISO9001

Mature Businesswoman helping client on laptop

So what’s holding you back? Yes that’s right; there is always some reason for not quite taking the plunge and going for ISO9001 even though we have been thinking about it for a while.

Try thinking about the all the reasons that come up that bring ISO9001 or structured systems to the forefront of your mind time and time again. Like the complaint that keeps reoccurring, or the rework costs that come back to bite you. Maybe it’s the time you don’t have to plan or the customer orders you can’t tender for yet because you haven’t got accreditation. There are so many reasons to decide to find a more disciplined way of working whether you decide to go for accreditation or not. But just how do you tip the balance to make that change?

I read a lot and some of the business books I have been introduced to lately are Brad Sugars from Action coach; his formula for change has stuck in my head.

Desire x Vision + First Steps > Resistance  

Think about it this way to overcome the resistance to changing the way you work you need to have three things:

  1. Clarify your vision – where do you need to be, what do you really want?
  2. Identify all those reasons why – stack them up an don’t wait until you are being pushed.
  3. Define your action plan – get help where you need it and clear the way with a carefully prioritised action plan.

You don’t have to wait until you lose that all important customer or things go down hill to far to force you into change. You have the power to start changing now and when you involve people and nurture the right culture the change your feared will become the norm.

Most importantly TAKE ACTION and if you don’t know how ASK.

 

Time for a New Quality Assurance Focus

We all know the saying ‘Quality is Everyone’s business’ and have bought the posters and sold the message but how easy is it to make it your culture? Just like your company strategy quality is an integral part of your way of thinking and needs to start exactly here.

So what is it we mean when we look at the Quality in Strategy? One example of a company goal may be: ‘To harness the exceptional skills of it’s people, resources and materials used; to achieve the most efficient and effective way of meeting the customers and future customers needs’. This may be a bit of a mouthful but I see it as not a bad goal to have! The trick is to ensure that this broad statement can be turned into smart objectives (specific (I say simple), measurable, realistic and timely), micro tasks as some like to call them. Together they will ensure that you stay on the path to your goal, but are also small and manageable enough to ensure that you are flexible for ever changing demands. Business is so fast paced compared to the Quality days of old, so change the approach and it will guide the improvements you make. Once you have captured this all important action plan there are three essential phases TRAIN, MONITOR and COMMUNICATE. Ensure that you educate everyone so they know what is expected of them and how they can make a real difference to the company. Monitor how you are performing. Communicate the ongoing results and celebrate everyone’s achievements.

Use technology – whether you are in the cloud or not, get up to speed with the latest apps and software available. Caution – invest in what works for you not the best standard package – bespoke solutions that meet your needs will solve your issues. You will be surprised at how much is available free and when applied in the background can achieve process solutions where the users themselves do not even realise that the actions are being carried. I am specifically thinking of paperwork issues that are growing in the quality industry and the paper trails. Take time to experiment as you are making an investment into ensuring your system is the best it can be.

Develop your Approach to Quality just like any other business goal.

Develop your Approach to Quality just like any other business goal.

My final tips for this re-focus in your QA approach is address the costs of Non-Quality; know what your current level of Quality is costing you. I don’t just mean the scrapped materials, it is the extra time, effort, skills, lost business and poor customer perception. Prioritise these in terms of risk – the risk of not meeting and exceeding your customers needs. Customer focus is key. Link this to what impact these issues are having on your business and the bottom line – now you have a real action plan and a strategy for  investment in your Quality Assurance.

Building Quality into all designs and processes becomes a lot easier when you make it part of your culture and strategy. You may need further investment of time and money along with careful change management but you will be investing in a prevention based system – no more fire-fighting! Fire-fighting takes up valuable time that could be invested elsewhere more efficiently. There are many tools and techniques to help you , mistake proofing, lean, kaizen – my advice is use what works for you and don’t be afraid to adapt them. In many cases they are not set in stone and are usually common sense systematised!