Process management… It sounds dreadfully technical. In fact, processes are all around us, we all manage them somehow. And we don’t need a PhD to do that. Often, even primary school or plain common sense is enough.
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Do you think that “process management” is only for large companies? Not exactly true. I personally think that it makes a lot more sense and a real impact for little companies rather than large corporations. “Process management” sounds pretty scary, but in fact, even small children manage their processes.
Let’s see. What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase process management? Let me start.
We had a semester on this topic at university. I must admit that I can’t even remember which authors we discussed and studied, but I remember that there was a seminar paper at the end of the seminar. Of course, a flowchart was a must.
And I also remember that I enjoyed the seminar. I liked thinking about the context, how to make it so that the different activities within a process build on each other logically and efficiently. That every process clearly defines what its inputs are, whether it was a physical material, some specific data and information or human resources. Its outputs and who takes them over. What is needed to be done in one process and how long it all takes. Who the specific person responsible for the process comes into contact with. What exactly does the person have to do, what can they decide and so on.
Processes provide order, stability and system to work. Which is an ideal tool for such busy creative souls with their heads in the clouds. Especially for them, it’s difficult to maintain that order in business, or even in life.
So, what comes to your mind when you hear “process” or “process management”? You may also be influenced by the general awareness that process management often includes complex flowcharts, stacks of papers, and documentation folders. Nowadays, all these documents are probably stored in electronic form and on various clouds, but I still remember them being a hard copy from the time I worked in a corporation, when each participant in the process had to personally sign that they were acquainted with it and so on.
Honestly, I still don’t believe that anyone in a specific position would work in accordance with such elaborate processes. The real processes, that is how each person actually did their work, lived their own lives. On the other hand, I don’t deny that strictly defined processes have their justification, for example in companies with demanding technological production and the like.
However, the mentioned flowcharts, prescribed documentation, certification, ISO and similar things are the representatives of mainly “classic” process management.
Do you know the term agile process management? You may have encountered the word agile in project management. The meaning is the same. The process is perceived as a living organism and not a dogma that is defined once and lasts for another 10 years. Times are speeding up, and we need to respond to the changing circumstances we encounter in business just as quickly.
I just want to say that I personally see more meaning in agile process management rather than in the classic one. And agile process management is the ideal system for small businesses or freelancers. They are inherently flexible, can transform quickly even during normal operation and respond to current circumstances as needed. Even for me, it makes much more sense to help freelancers and small businesses, because the implementation of a specific process has an immediate impact on the functioning of the company or the quality of life of a particular person. The process directly affects the activity of the individual in their specific position. It provides them with structure, predictability, less stress and more time.
However, I sometimes encounter doubts that processes are not needed.
“I don’t need processes. I keep what needs to be done and how in my head.”
I envy their memory of an elephant. I, on the other hand, immediately think: what does they have in their heads? Don’t they forget something? Why do they remember everything at all and not free up space for something else? My experience shows that it doesn’t take long and the head can no longer keep up. When the brain is overloaded, mistakes are made, things are forgotten. That’s why it’s good to put everything you keep about your work in your head on paper. Or to a computer. Or wherever it remains preserved. And that brings me to the next topic.
“I distribute tasks as needed. I delegate.”
How does your delegation look like? How do you ensure that delegation goes well? Do you get the outputs you need and expect? Because when you have a mapped process and you know exactly what its output should be, delegating is much easier, which also goes for checking the outputs.
“I already have Caflou, I manage my processes with it.”
Caflou is a great business management system for comprehensive planning of company activities or for managing a company and business, including the all-important cash flow. It is a work and control tool that you can use to manage a company and business. However, it doesn’t map processes or optimize them according to your needs. It is an application that allows you to control already mapped processes. There are various other tools for recording or managing processes; initially, you only need documents or tables. The important thing is to just start.
“Write and analyse all company activities? I don’t have time for that! I have to work, make money and invoice.”
I understand everyone who thinks like this. And I totally agree that process mapping takes time. A lot of time. But there’s no better reward than seeing everything that goes on in the company in the palm of your hand. To know that each element, each individual knows exactly what their tasks are and how to do them. To know what brings value to the company. Thanks to this, it’s possible to rely on each other and trust each other. And also to take time off or go on holiday.
So, why does process management make sense?
It will make your business more synoptic. You know exactly what happens, when, how and why it happens, and what’s the point of it for the company. The fact that each activity has an “executor”, a person who is responsible for the process, means that responsibilities, authorities and competencies are clearly defined. If an error occurs in the process, it’s easier to address and correct it, because it’s easy to find out in which part of the process the error occurred. Appropriate steps can be used to quick remedy and the appropriate communication can correct the mistake of a particular person. Teach them again, explain, or worse, say goodbye to them.
Of course, mapped process is also a great basis for delegating the particular activity.
Implementing processes saves time because using an already documented process and a corresponding tool for recurring activities will speed up work and ultimately save time. Such saved time can be in the order of several hours a week.
Thanks to the implemented processes, the routine will be simplified and accelerated, and there will be room for further development activities of the company. The growth of the company will also bring growth in revenues.
So, can you see why I’m in favour of processes? There’s no need to be afraid of them, even if they look complicated and demanding. They help.
And if I’ve dispelled your fears about them at least a little, I have some smaller topics for you to think about.
What are the activities you carry out? I have no doubt that there will be a lot of them. How do you work with activities that are regularly recurring in your company? Do you do the activity the same way every time? Is it an effective way? Isn’t there any more suitable one?
If you’ve read this far, you already know that you don’t need a PhD to manage your processes. And you probably realized while reading this article how many of your own processes you already manage. Good job! It all begins with you realizing this. I keep my fingers crossed for you.
Author of the article: Ing. Michela Tréglová
In cooperation with Mrs Michaela Tréglová, a specialist and consultant in efficiency and simplification of work for entrepreneurs, we have prepared Caflou Business Processes Academy.
The goal of the Academy, as well as Michaela’s work, is to save your time and teach you to use procedures and tools that will make your business easier and more efficient forever. Simply put, to transfer chaos into order.