Lean for Services

15 Ways to Tell if You’re a Process Centric Company

Debashis Sarkar
Contributor: Debashis Sarkar
Posted: 02/21/2012

Does your company leadership treat processes as strategic assets? If not, maybe it’s time they did. Here Debashis Sarkar, Asia’s Service Lean Pioneer, Author and Thought Leader, shares 15 ways to tell whether you’re a process centric company.

What is a process centric organization?

The simplest definition of a process centric organization is one where processes are consciously used to get business results. Two words in that definition have been underlined to convey the fact that leadership leverages processes as a strategy to derive business outcomes. A process-centric organization manages process as a system (process management system) which implies that you just don’t confine your attention to processes but associated elements - such as people, partners, and leadership - that impact process outcomes.

Why would you want to be a process centric organization?

The benefits of creating a process-centric organization are immense and comprise both hard and soft results. Beyond improving the performance of the company on strategic parameters; a process centric company fundamentally enhances the DNA of a company and makes it "change ready" while equipping it to face the pressures of competition better. It also creates a more engaged and involved workforce who understand that problem-solving and meeting customer requirements is a key part of their role.

15 Attributes of a Process Centric Company

The following are the 15 key facets of a process-focused company:

1. There is clarity on the key processes that provide competitive advantage to the firm

2. Leadership is visibly committed to leveraging process for business results

3. Employees are aware of the value creating, value enabling, support and management processes that operate in the company

4. Processes have well defined ownership

5. The company invests in improving the processes that make a difference to the company

6. The organization is structured around processes or value streams (or some sort of hybrid model to achieve this)

7. Strategy gets deployed through the business processes that coalesce upwards through the functions (unlike strategy getting deployed vertically down through functions)

8. Focus on meeting the process goals (or customer outcomes), which at times could be at the cost of functional goals

9. Leadership doesn’t just focus on the outcomes of business but the how processes were used to achieve those results

10. Process performance gets measured through metrics around efficiency, effectiveness and adaptability - not just one of them to the detriment of others

11. Process management & improvement capabilities (such as Lean, Six Sigma, BPM, TOC, TRIZ etc) are embedded across business units and functions not confined to one central process team

12. Focus is not just on tactical improvements of key processes but the company endeavours to move them up a maturity continuum

13. Leaders mobilize the larger organization to engage in process improvement endeavours

14. Organizational culture (includes values, assumptions, etc.) supports process thinking

15. Employees across hierarchies willingly adopt tools for solving day to day problems and decision making

Although there are probably many more attributes of process centricity, I believe the list above are the most important characteristics and an easy way for you to measure how "process-centric" your own company is.

Ultimately, though, you will know that you are a process-centric organization when the improvement in process performance improves the overall performance of the company. If despite, the improvement in processes performance, the organizational performance remains status quo or even plummets, it’s time for you to re-visit your strategy around processes and how it be leveraged for business results. Leaders should treat the value-creating (core) processes as strategic assets and always keep their eye on them. Efforts in process design, management and improvement should have a direct or indirect impact on the strategic priorities of the firm.

Debashis Sarkar
Contributor: Debashis Sarkar
Posted: 02/21/2012

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