Skip to main content

Do you document your business process changes?

We all know that if you change a business process you should change the procedures to match, don't we?

When we are being formal about the change this is easy to do.

When we are trying out new ideas this can lead to inconsistencies in how we update our formal procedures, unless we are prepared to handle this situation.

Does this happen to you?

Imagine that you have a problem with how one part of your business operates. Customer complaints and internal mistakes make it clear to you that something needs to change.

You come up with some options to change this situation, but aren't quite sure what way you need to go in terms of making a decision.

So, you conduct a trial and determine that one of the options is more than satisfactory.

You confirm this verbally to your team and as the problem is believed to have gone away you get back to your day job.

A few months pass by and then the exact same problem re-occurs.

What happened?

The knowledge wasn't formally included into your procedures (whether this is a quality system, or standard operating procedures, or something else) and it has now become lost as a formal instruction.

If you have a change in personnel during this time this could be linked to the training not being as up to date as it should be.

This is a very common problem for many businesses. If you haven't got a method to keep track of your business experiments / trials then it can be very easy to let these changes get through the net.

If you reflect on the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle you can see how the Act stage is the phase where we determine to leave the improvement trials and formalise the process.

So how do you improve the rate at which you capture these changes?

A simple strategy

There are many ways to manage this kind of process, but one of the simplest (I like simple solutions that work) is to keep a list on a whiteboard and not remove it until either you decide to either:

  • Cease work on the change (and leave the process as it is), or,
  • Formalise the change into your business' documentation.
Having the whiteboard in a central location that is highly visible can increase the uptake of the changes being experimented with and is a strategy worth pursuing.

What do you think?

Giles





About the author
Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes.
Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kamishibai Boards

Some tools are incredibly simple to use, and also deliver some amazing results. Kamishibai boards are a great example and are superb when you want some visual control over routine tasks. By the way Kamishibai is pronounced "come-e-she-bye" in case you were wondering!
As simple as you could want it, a Kamishibai board is a T-card system that has red cards glued to green
cards (so that each T-card has a red side and a green side). The red cards are for the incomplete tasks, where as the green cards symbolise that the work has been done. See the photo below of a board in use.
On the red side of the card you write the name of the task that needs to be completed, and if appropriate you can include details of how the task is to be completed. This is not expected to replace standard operating procedures, but can be a good opportunity for an aide memoire.
The boards can be organised for daily, weekly and even monthly cycles. They are great as part of a 5S implementation (the Susta…

Do You Put Enough Effort Into Changing How Your Business Works?

If you're reading this blog post it is a fair guess that you are looking to improve how your business works. So, what do you think about the question I have posed as the title of this article?
The reality is that if you could make a change happen with the same amount of effort that you current expend in your business changes would be happening left, right and centre. If you want to make a change stick in your business you need to increase your levels of effort temporarily. Without this increase in effort it is unlikely that the change you want will take place and sustain.
I recall when I worked as a Production Manager and the OTIF (On Time In Full) performance of our business was certainly not where it needed to be. For years the business had struggled to raise its level of performance; no additional effort had been expended. I planned out sixteen small improvement projects to address this and I got started with the changes. It was hard work at times and the work was on top of my…

Seeing the Improvement Wood for the Chaos Trees!

How are you feeling about your business the moment?

Are you feeling frustrated and irritated by the apparent lack of progress being made with your improvements?

If you answer ‘yes’ to this second question, don’t worry, you are not alone!

We all feel this way at times and the reason I am writing this article is that if you feel this way right now then I want to reassure you that there is a simple way to get out of this situation. I have been in this situation many times in both my operational life and as a consultant. It is normal and taking a deep breath and stepping back from the noise of the day-to-day is essential.

Let me take you through the three quick steps of Stopping, Assessing and Acting.


Take stock of where you are right now

In order for us to step back and try and see some of the ‘improvement wood’ as I refer to in the title of this article we need to have a simple question to focus our attention. A question I recommend that you ask is:

“Do our current processes suit the need…