Departments Are Not Unto Themselves
by Sharon Flemings

In several other articles, we’ve been discussing the necessity of understanding where the organization is going so you can make the right choices about where to spend your time and energy. I pointed out that you should be focusing on optimizing those process that most directly tie to one of the corporate strategic objectives.

In a presentation I heard this week, Mr. Keith Eades pointed out how crucial it is that the sales support staff be aligned with the outcomes desired from the field sales personnel. I would argue, however, that it is not only the sales organization that must be “harmonized”, but it is critical for all levels of management to take a holistic look at any particular business process.

Departments are not unto themselves
While each functional area in an organization is a critical component of the whole, is it equally critical to evaluate the effectiveness (and efficiency) of the entire end-to-end process. This generally requires crossing functional boundaries between departments. While the Sales organization has the direct contact with the customer, the procurement, manufacturing, finance and customer service departments are all part of completing a sale. Therefore, it is imperative that each of these functional areas be evaluated when reviewing this process.

Business Framework
Often times, companies realize the need for some level of self-assessment. The question, however, becomes how to accomplish that self assessment. Where does one start? What are the boundaries?

My suggestion is to look at your business as an architect would look at a building. The architect sees the various systems that must work together in order for the occupant to receive value from the structure. The corporation (or other entity) must look at itself in the same manner – all the systems must work together to produce value for the customer.

One of the ways to view this is to use a framework that describes your business. The beauty of a framework is that all people in the organization can see what all the other areas in the business are doing. Additionally, using a framework can aid in decision making – by assessing which areas are working better than others, and by identifying early on which areas would be impacted by any specific decision.

Take Action
There are a number of good business frameworks to use as a starting point – just pick one and get started. Try this out:

·        Select a business process framework, and identify one of the processes to evaluate.

·        Assess your execution of each of the steps in the process as to how well you are currently performing the process.

·        Of those below par, determine which areas are a higher priority to further evaluate.

·         Incorporate goals into your current plans that allow for improving the identified areas.

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

Related Articles:
The Right Use of Enterprise Architecture
The Importance of Thinking Laterally
Identifying the Strategic Processes