iSixSigma

Process

Definition of Process:

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Processes can be simple, complex, or somewhere in-between. They are needed to make sense of workflow, so that a goal can be reached in a logical way. Without processes, there would be a sense of chaos in everything we aim to achieve.

Overview: What is a process?

It can be defined as a series of steps that are progressive as well as interdependent and whose function is to attain an end.

4 benefits of a process

There are many benefits to processes:

1. Improved efficiency and speed

By doing work with actual processes as opposed to an unorganized methodology, you can expect there to be improved efficiency and speed.

2. Clarified expectations

With a standardized and stable process, you are able to clarify the expectations of the outcome and how it will be reached.

3. Simplified workflow

By having processes, you can simplify your workflow and make the outcome repeatable as well as more regularly predictable.

4. Boost in productivity

By having set processes, you will likely see a boost in productivity by knowing exactly what the steps will be to achieve your desired outcome.

Why is the idea of a process important to understand?

Having an understanding of processes is important for the following reasons:

1. Assimilation of collected data

Data that is collected during the development of processes can be utilized to make further improvements to workflow.

2. Continual performance improvement

By working with processes that are fairly standardized but still dynamic and malleable, you can find room for continual improvement to the processes that will then lead to continual performance improvement.

3. Processes are the keys to most things

There is a process for pretty much everything. While there might not be a set right or wrong process for some activities, it is almost guaranteed that some processes will yield better results than others. Having an understanding of processes and how they work will give you the knowledge of what types of processes to pick to achieve the best results in a large variety of diverse situations.

An industry example of a process

A food truck has just opened up in a busy section of Los Angeles. The focus of this food truck is tamales. The owner of the food truck has a grandmother who has been making hundreds of tamales for the holidays every year for decades, so he decided it would be fun for her in her retirement to join in on this venture using her recipes. The only problem is that her recipes and methods are very feeling-oriented without defined processes, and the truck is unable to keep up with the neighborhood demand within the first two days of opening.

In order to meet demand and make the business sustainable, the owner sits down with his grandmother, and they together come up with a series of processes that ensure that their product is up to a repeatable standard as well as being able to meet demand.

Some of these processes developed include beginning the day with enough ingredients to pre-prepare a quantity of tamales that will get them through the lunch rush. Some of these processes developed include beginning the day with enough ingredients to pre-prepare a quantity of tamales that will get them through the lunch rush. Also, careful track is kept of which varieties sell the fastest, so that some of the most popular varieties can be made ahead of time and frozen for the next day.

These and other processes help make this family business thrive over time.

3 best practices when thinking about processes

Here are a few practices to keep in mind when implementing processes:

1. Feedback

Interaction and engagement with employees is a great way to get feedback about current processes and how they can improve.

2. Mapping processes

Mapping out processes can be an ideal way of not only keeping track of steps towards an outcome for yourself but also for your co-workers. Components that should be covered are the overall workflow, individual tasks, choices that need to be made that could affect the path of the workflow, and any resources required.

3. Detailed and clear language

When breaking down processes, be sure to be as detailed as possible while also making sure to keep your language simple. This will be a major asset to any co-workers that need to have an understanding of how the goal is to be met.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about processes

1. In manufacturing, what are the basic types of processes?

There are five basic types of processes in manufacturing. These categories are continuous, mass, batch, jobbing, and project.

2. Is it better to have standardized or non-standardized processes?

Non-standardized processes can lead to workflow being slower and less efficient. You also run into a greater amount of risk with untested methods. It also makes training more difficult. There is also a greater chance of miscommunication. However, having rigid and set standardized processes can hinder innovation and improvement. Therefore, it is likely best to have standardized processes for the sake of reproducibility, but that also leaves room for some flexibility.

3. Can processes reach a point where they can no longer be improved upon?

It may definitely come to a point where it appears that current processes can no longer be improved. Regardless, there should always be an eye towards improvement as resources may pop up through things like improvements in technology that can set a path towards further improvement.

Making processes work for you

Having processes to get work done just makes sense. By being able to lay out the steps involved in a project, you are more likely to successfully achieve the desired outcome. Having processes also makes reaching that desired outcome repeatable and predictable. Knowing the steps involved also allows you to look at the steps and see where improvements can be made. Now that you know how processes work, do not go into your next project without one.

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