12 Days of PEXmas, Day 7: What’s in a name? How do you define process excellence?

There are many different variations in how process practitioners define their mission at different organizations. One of the questions respondents were asked in PEX Network’s July 2014 survey was how would they define the purpose of the process excellence at their company.

Below are a couple of the many varied definitions that came back from respondents:

"To continually improve the current processes & develop new and innovative ways to exceed our customer's expectations."

"Build a more agile framework that breaks down departmental silos and allows us to adapt to new products/services and customer experience changes quicker and with less manual work-arounds"

The range of names that companies use for process excellence also varies hugely. Some have been specific to the methodologies used to support process improvement such as Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, Lean, Business Process Reengineering, Statistical Process Control, etc.

Other common terms that companies use include "operational excellence", "continuous improvement" and "process improvement" in addition to company-specific terms for their process excellence program (e.g. "The Toyota Way"). The chart below shows the most common naming conventions used by organizations to describe their process excellence program.

The problem, as we’ve mentioned previously, is that there is no one single term that the industry has consolidated around that encapsulates the meaning or purpose of process excellence.

"The branding is a challenge because what we call it can create confusion," observes Paul Sandell, Senior Master Black Belt at Intel. "Within accounting and finance, for instance, the function is always called accounting and finance. There really is no other brand. But you go to other companies and process improvement can be called any number of things. This causes a great deal of confusion with not only the lay person within the organization but also with the business leadership."

There will be many process professional at January’s PEX Week 2015, the largest global gathering of practitioners within this space, a great place to begin your journey of defining process and untangling the terms. For more information, download the agenda below.

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