Identifying the Strategic Processes
by Sharon Flemings

Before too long into the new year, organizations should have made fairly detailed plans for what they want to accomplish this year. Whether growing market share, reducing expenses, or some other goals top your list, you need to identify just how you’ll accomplish these goals.

So, just how does one identify the opportunities for reaching objectives? Certainly, mandates may be one means of communicating the goals, but just how effective are they in ensuring you reach the desired state?

What are the goals?
First, have available (or list) the specific goals you want to achieve. Do not try to tackle too many things in one particular time period – remember, we need to support day-to-day operations in addition to making changes in the organization. Change can take a considerable amount of time. (By the way, did I mention these goals should be measurable, so you know if you have achieved them?)

Identify the Processes
Select one of your goals, then take a look at your organization and identify those functional areas that directly support the goal. For example, if you want to reduce the number of customer complaints on a particular product, the following functional areas are probably involved: Defining product and service functionality, Produce Product, and Measuring and Evaluating Customer Satisfaction.

Once you have identified the high level processes that can directly influence the realization of the goal, it is time to break down those processes into lower levels of detail to understand exactly what is happening.  The idea is to get to the level of detail that will allow you to identify specific changes that must be made in order to affect the outcome. For example, if we look at the Produce Product process, that may break down into the next level processes: Schedule Production, Produce Product, and Schedule and Perform Maintenance.

When we look at processes at this level, we can start identifying some processes that cannot contribute to our goal. In our example, Schedule Production probably cannot influence the outcome of reducing customer complaints on a product, so we know there is no need to explore that process area any further for change opportunities.

Take Action
Try this out with one of your goals:

·          Select one of your goals for this year (make sure it is measurable, so after you implement changes you’ll know whether your changes are working)

·          Identify the specific areas that would directly contribute to reaching the goal. Keep in mind that this might cross functional boundaries

·          Break down each of the high level process areas into its component parts, and identify those areas that can influence the goal.

·          If necessary, break down the remaining process areas further yet, to rule out areas that cannot contribute.

·          Once we have reached the lowest level of process components, then we can start examining those areas for reengineering/optimization.

I would be interested in hearing how this exercise works for you.

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