Is it process or procedure that needs improved? When expectations aren’t met, too often managers jump to conclusions before gathering and analyzing information. I’ve seen procedures changed when, in fact, the problem wasn’t the procedure. It was because the procedure wasn’t being followed. And processes (the act of doing the procedure) that were micromanaged when, in fact, it was the procedure that was flawed. Both approaches result in little or no improvement.
Is It Process or Procedure that Needs Improved?
10 Minute Response
I worked with a company that set a procedure to respond to all web inquiries within 10 minutes. It was a simple procedure. When a new inquiry was submitted, the response team was sent an email and was to respond within 10 minutes. It was discovered some responses took up to an hour. The IT team was tasked with improving the system.
After spending hours “improving” the system, the results did not improve. Because it wasn’t due to the procedure; it was the process. The team responsible for answering the inquiries only checked their email once an hour.
How would you answer these two scenarios?
You make thing-a-ma-jigs. They haven’t changed, and nothing out of your organization’s control is affecting production. However, production has declined. Is the problem the procedure or process (defined as how the team works together)? Should you alter procedures or do you need new procedures? *See the Answer below.
You offer a service. An outside sales force drives sales. The personnel have not changed, and the economy is the same. However, sales are down 10% from the previous year. So, do you need new sales procedures, better processes, or new salespeople? *See the Answer below.
Neither scenario gives you enough information to make a decision. Therefore, facts need to be gathered and analyzed before making conclusions.
Four Conditions of Process and Procedure
- When the team is on track. Reinforce this positive behavior with recognition and rewards.
- If the process is good, but the procedure is flawed, ask the team to offer suggestions to improve the procedure. Review the team’s goals, refocus priorities, and assign tasks that look like they have the best opportunity to improve the procedure. Establish and train the new or improved procedure.
- If the process is inadequate, but the procedure is workable, what steps in the process need improved? Where is the process faltering? Are procedures being followed? Have they been adequately trained? Follow through with training or corrective action as needed.
- If the process and procedure both need improved, follow points 2 & 3.
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