Key Steps Along the Pathway to Process Management

The CLEMMER Group's team of experts and specialists have worked with hundreds of organizations during the last few decades to transform their performance. Building on that extensive experience and Jim Clemmer's third book, Pathways to Performance: A Guide to Transforming Yourself, Your Team, and Your Organization, our approach to process management follows these steps:

  1. Focus and Context begins with connecting process management to the organization's vision, values, purpose, and strategic imperatives (key organizational objectives). The purpose, beginning, ending, and vision of the ideal process are then set. This is followed by clarification of the process management team's roles and responsibilities.


  2. Customers/Partners Process mapping identifies the key players and activities. This is done with Macro and Relationship Maps. A Macro Map is a diagram which identifies the process' beginning and end, major activities, and the departments (functional areas) involved. A Relationship Map is a detailed diagram showing all the tasks required to complete activities, who performs the tasks for whom, input/outputs, and decision points. The map also pinpoints which hand-off points in the process are the biggest cause of delays, information breakdowns, and rework.


  3. Prioritize Expectations talking with, and collecting data from key customers of the process to clarify and define their expectations of its outputs and requirements. The same is done with suppliers and other partners. This information and understanding is passed on to managers and everyone working in the process. They are then involved in making the operation of the process fit the customer/partner definition of what it should do.


  4. Gap Analysis "Hot spots" in the process are now identified. These include areas of variability, time delays, unmet customer/partner requirements, errors, rework, unnecessary or unrelated work, wasted time or resources, added costs, or missed revenue. To prepare for redesigning the process, the team asks such questions as: Does structure help or hinder the process? Do we have accidental bureaucracy? Does every step add value? Are we duplicating work? Can we simplify? Can we standardize? Can we better utilize tools, equipment, technology, or other resources?


  5. Goals and Priorities The three to five highest priority "hot spots" are selected for improvement based on criteria such as urgency, improvement potential, customer/partner visibility, or chances of success. Broad process improvement goals are supported by important goals for each "hot spot." Examples of these specific and measurable goals are reducing cycle time by 50%, defects by 100%, rework by 80%, costs by 20%, or increasing accuracy by 45%.


  6. Improvement Planning Teams are trained in a seven-step problem solving method to deal with the "hot spots" and reach their process improvement goals. They learn how to start with divergent thinking, explore, converge their thinking, and select solution(s). Within these steps improvement tools such as Brainstorming, Cause-and-Effect Diagrams, Pareto Analysis, Force Field Analysis, Rating, Histogram, and Run Charts are taught and used.


  7. Review, Assess, Celebrate, and Refocus The effects of process changes are monitored and adjustments made. The team keeps key customers/partners, management, and process participants informed of progress and watches for shifting requirements. Breakthroughs and successes are celebrated and reinforced to energize everyone for refocusing on the next stage of continuous improvement or transformation.