Processes are to organisations as highways and railroads are to any modern economy. In today's fast-paced business environment, the importance of formal processes cannot be overstated. Processes serve as the backbone of operational excellence, ensuring that people joining your organisation become effective immediately and that tasks are executed consistently, efficiently, and effectively. That being said, it's surprising how many organisations still operate without formal processes in place. This article explores some of the main reasons behind this and shares some insights for organisations who wish to become operationally excellent.
Start-up Culture: Agility Over Formality
Start-ups and small businesses often believe they need to prioritise speed and agility over formal processes. The focus is on quick decision-making and adaptability, which, while essential for survival, can lead to a lack of structured processes.
Best Practice: Entrepreneurs realise early in their organisations life, that they can't be expert in everything and reach out to external experts in strategy, finance, marketing etc. Unfortunately, setting their organisation up to execute well seems intuitive and so entrepreneurs seldom seek external expertise until its too late. Without a framework that integrates and optimises the whole organisation as a whole system, they embark on the vicious circle that is "todays problems come from yesterdays solution" or what Larry Greiner calls "evolution and revolution".
In a system such as an organisation, the interaction of the parts is more important than the performance of any one part. Operational Excellence, the discipline of high performance execution, while not as well known as the other management disciplines, is vital because it provides the framework by which the organisation is linked together together in an integrated, high performance system of management. Operational excellence can provide well designed "light" processes that can be built using SIPOCs that encourage structured collaboration. This provides a framework for decision-making that facilitates agility, not hinder it.
Resource Constraints: The Budget Dilemma
Some organisations may not have the financial or human resources to invest in the development and implementation of formal process management tools.
Best Practice: Utilise cost-effective, cloud-based process management tools and focus on formalising critical operational areas first.
Lack of Expertise: The Knowledge Gap
Not all organisations have the in-house expertise required to develop and implement effective processes.
Best Practice: Engage external "practitioner" firms like Expertivity Technologies that specialise in operational excellence and process management.
Management Philosophy: Creativity vs. Structure
Some organisational leaders believe that formal processes can stifle creativity and innovation.
Best Practice: Create flexible processes that encourage innovation while ensuring that operational goals are met.
Rapid Growth: Scaling Without Structure
Companies experiencing rapid growth often focus on expansion at the cost of process formalisation.
Best Practice: Develop processes that are scalable and can adapt to the changing needs of a growing organisation.
Complexity Aversion: The Fear Factor
The perceived complexity and effort involved in developing formal processes can act as a deterrent.
Best Practice: Use process mapping techniques to break down complex processes into manageable tasks.
Short-Term Focus: Ignoring the Long Game
A focus on immediate results can often overshadow the long-term benefits of having structured processes in place.
Best Practice: Educate stakeholders on the long-term ROI of process formalisation, including increased efficiency and reduced operational risks.
Cultural Resistance: The Human Element
An organisational culture that values autonomy and informality may resist the introduction of formal processes.
Best Practice: Implement change management strategies to gradually "nudge" the organisational culture towards one that values structure and consistency.
The absence of formal processes in many organisations is a complex issue with multiple underlying factors. However, the long-term benefits of process formalisation, including enhanced operational efficiency and reduced risk, make it an indispensable aspect of business management. Organisations looking to transition from an informal to a formal operational structure can benefit from the specialist operational excellence and process optimisation expertise like that offered by Expertivity Technologies,
By understanding the challenges and implementing targeted solutions, organisations can successfully make the transition to a more structured and efficient operational model.