Businesses should have clear expectations from every procedure, activity and task that happens in their workplace. These expectations can be formalized as process design requirements, which describe the minimum acceptable results from a particular process.

Overview: What are process design requirements?

Active business managers don’t just let things unfold and develop on their own. Control is always key for building business, just like it’s key for building muscle in a personal workout. That’s why control is the “C” of Six Sigma’s core DMAIC doctrine.

It helps to think of process design requirements from an engineering perspective. When examining or improving a process, you need to understand what you expect this process to do. The first thing you need is to know exactly what is going into a process and what exactly is coming out of it.

3 benefits of process design requirements

Purpose, planning and preparation are all indispensable words in the lean management vocabulary.

1. Maintain quality standards

The Six Sigma program, and lean management practices in general, revolve around cutting waste, faults and defects by reducing variability. Establishing requirements when designing a process and communicating them clearly afterward shows you are prioritizing quality results.

2. Set clear expectations

Clear design requirements eliminates a lot of unnecessary confusion and conflict. It can ease personnel disputes by limiting subjective evaluation, since the design requirements are already established.

3. Reproduce good results

Doing something good once is nice, but you need to do it good all the time if you want to make it your business. Design requirements are all about developing reproducible results. Using a proven method and strategy is always a safer bet than winging it.

Why are process design requirements important to understand?

Setting the parameters and standards for process design sets the stage for all of the development, analysis and improvement to follow.

Setting the bar

Setting a definite and achievable goal is really important for getting consistent results. This is a fundamental truth in business management and applies to every other area of life as well. However, you need to understand how to avoid limiting your options or boxing yourself in with these standards.

Scalable solutions

One of the main reasons business leaders feel “forced” to develop clear process design requirements is scalability. Scaling means people need to be on board and embracing the solutions at a decent pace. Always keep scaling in mind when designing and improving a process.

Customers are still kings

If you aren’t thinking about your customers whenever you are designing, analyzing or improving a business process, then you are doing it wrong. Processes should be built around value added actions and tasks, while minimizing non value added endeavors. Just remember the real purpose of it all, which is to satisfy the needs of customers.

An industry example of a process design requirement

A new local bank is preparing to open its doors in the near future, which means managers and employees need to be fully prepared to handle customers. To address this, company leaders decide to design all the fundamental processes of the branch ahead of time. This will allow them to adjust the interior space, personnel responsibilities and other things to improve flow.

When designing the process for receiving cash deposits, for example, the bank had to first establish requirements for this process. Customers are expected to bring their cash in a paper envelope when depositing with a teller. Everything from this point on is on the bank. Anything the customer expects out of this process is a potential design requirement.

In this situation, the process design requirements for receiving a deposit could include a physical count of the money in front of the person and provision of receipt. It could also include specific methodology for proper storage of the money and addition of the money to the account to make the funds available.

3 best practices when thinking about process design requirements

Process design isn’t usually as technical as engineering a physical product, but it’s no less complex or important.

1. Adopt a flexible mentality

Design requirements shouldn’t become a prison for creativity and innovation. As long as you keep customer satisfaction as your central goal and priority, it will give you more natural flexibility on procedure.

2. Encourage collaboration

Designing and improving a process is usually a team activity. When possible, get experienced individuals with varying backgrounds, experience levels and skill sets to contribute their insights and views.

3. Keep improving

At some point you have to just move forward and implement a process even if it’s not perfect. Striving for perfectionism can be a danger and impediment to good business management. However, leaders should definitely embrace continual improvement and be willing to redesign processes already in place.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about process design requirements

What are the stages of process design?

Process design is usually divided into 6 or 7 stages that includes: ask, research, imagine, plan, create, test and improve. The requirements are discovered in the “ask” and “research” phases where they can guide the rest of the cycle.

Can design requirements be changed?

These requirements depend on the needs of the company and demands of the customers. They are subject to change and there’s usually a decent amount of flexibility depending on the product or solution. Requirements can and should be changed to reflect the current reality.

How do you document process design requirements?

Process design requirements should be organized, outlined and described in detail in a formal document. This lends more credence and authority to the guidelines, establishing a firm framework and foundation for process development.

Know what you want

What businesses want is to give their customers what they want and to do this as efficiently as possible. Successful leaders need to know what they and their customers want before they even start designing a process. No matter what kind of product or solution your company provides, there are standards, specifications and expectations that you fulfill.

About the Author