Process Variation

 

When we go into an organisation to document and improve their processes, the first question we always ask is, ‘What do you have documented already?’. In most cases, they tell us that they have a procedures folder, packed with documents relating to each of their processes.

They retrieve it from a filing cabinet, blow the dust off, then tell us that they created their procedures the last time they were audited. This is a great, but the conversation unfolds…

Clearsight: “When were they created?’

Client: ‘Two or three years ago.’

Clearsight: ‘Great. And when were they last reviewed?’

*pause*

Client: ‘Well, there hasn’t been a need because nothing has changed…’

 

The Road to Success

Nowadays, when setting off on a new journey, people have two choices: paper or online map. Either will work, but if one thing is certain in 2020 (while many, many things aren’t!), it’s that the online map will be up to date. The paper map might be, but the user should probably check the date it was printed first.

Imagine setting off on a journey, with a map, but more than once having to turn round, ask for help or worse, start again?

Before they’re printed, paper maps only document each road once. Of course, after that, it would be impossible to update the original document. Instead it would have to be redone and printed again; not to mention all of the old copies would have to be identified and removed.

But Google knows that roads change, so it developed a system to keep its extensive library of routes up to date.

Google Maps documents routes for users globally and makes them accessible from anywhere in the world (as long a there’s internet connection of course). What’s more, because it’s online in the cloud, they can readily make updates when a bridge is built that might halve journey time. Or, likewise, if a road becomes closed to certain types of vehicles.

 It’s a pretty helpful system, and one that you could embrace too…

 

Procedures Documentation vs Online Mapping

The documents found inside the procedures folder are called text based standard operating procedures (SOPs). They will usually be comprised of a mix of policies, procedure, work instruction and tips, and often there is little definition around what is what. From our experience, they also rarely reflect how the processes are performed today, the variations that might exist or that have developed over time. This is because text-based SOPs are work intensive to keep up to date and are often not subject to formal, regular reviews.

Additionally, by nature, it can be difficult to get high level views of how a process operates through a text-based system, due to how much work has to be put in to ascertain even low level detail around the specifics of performing that particular task.

On the other hand, once built, visual maps of your processes – available organisation wide in secure online area- are relatively easy to maintain.

 

Making procedures documentation more than just a regulatory box ticker

From our experience, written procedures are more of a regulatory “box ticker” and not used for things such as process improvement.

Mapping your organisation, and maintaining those maps through regular, tracked reviews, means that you can easily show new users exactly how things are done. You can demonstrate processes, without stress, to auditors and partners who request information. And you can identify areas where the same processes are varying by user and/or location, therefore costing money.

Find out how one organisation of over 4,500 people globally, standardised their operating processes to improve how they do business.

 

Did you know…

One of the reasons that process maps work is because they are more visually engaging than text heavy procedures, but we can actually take that further.

It is a fact that at this moment in time, more and more time is being spent engaging with video rather than written content. And Generation Z, aka your employees of the future, engage much better with video than anything else.

So why not start supporting your employees of the future and the present now by introducing work instructions via screen recordings? Showing people exactly how a task should be performed – no interpretation.