Process Architecture

Building a good process requires clear ownership and a deliberate plan. There is a fair amount of work that goes into it, which can be broken down as follows:

   
Category   
   
Sub-category   
   
Basic theme   
   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   
Planning   
   

   

   

   
Process
   
Measurement   
   
Identify,   design, and implement balanced   process metrics and measurement   
   
Implement process   metrics and   measurement reporting mechanisms   
   
Identify and implement KPIs   (And KRIs)    aligned   to process   
   
Evaluate cycle times   and identify potential wastes   
   
Align   level and recognition of people involved in the   process to align with process   
   

   
Customer
   
Experience   
   
Process design   with customer interaction trigger mechanisms   
   
Design process in line with customer expectations   
   
Identify customer process performance expectations   
   
Design customer entry points and   define transaction types   
   

   

   

   
Process Change   
   
Identify incremental and re-engineering process   enhancement opportunities with staff involvement   
   
Design process with minimal process   hand-off’s   
   
Create and execute process improvement plans   
   
Identify process   automation opportunities   
   
Pilot process   design to ensure meeting performance objectives   
   
Governance   
   
Design efficient process with   governance & internal control considerations   
   
Capacity   
   
Conduct demand   and capacity planning   activities   
   

   

   
Staff Training   
   
Develop and conduct staff   training initiatives in line with customer,
   
process, product, and systems expectations   
   
Develop skills   matrix and staff capability requirements in line with process design   
   
Technology   
   
Define technology enablers   
   
Alignment   
   
Align process objectives with organizational goals   
   
Change
   
Management   
   
Engage impacted stakeholders on process changes   
   

   

   

   

   

   
Control   
   

   

   
Process
   
Measurement   
   
Process performance monitoring   
   
Report on process and staff performance with utilization of visual management tools   
   
Obtain continuous customer satisfaction and expectation of process   
   
Active management of process exceptions   
   
Monitor staff performance metrics   
   

   
Process Change   
   
Identify process   improvement opportunities on a continuous basis   
   
Focused process hand-off management and   tracking   
   
Capacity   
   
Demand and capacity planning and monitoring   
   

   

   
Governance   
   
Process Change   
   
Process maintenance and continuous update   
   
Define and conform to process documentation standards   
   
Change
   
Management   
   
Process communication and awareness   
   
Staff Training   
   
Utilize process documentation knowledge to facilitate staff training   

Like any activity, it helps to document it. I use a template like this.

Understanding How to Organize Process

Process drives the work we do. We can evaluate processes on two axis – complexity and strategy – that help us decide the best way to manage and improve the processes.

Process by Complexity and Strategy

Process complexity and dynamics are what types of tasks are involved in the process. Is it a simple, repetitive procedure with a few rules for handling cases outside of normal operation? Or is it a complex procedure with lots of decision points and special case rules? Think of this like driving somewhere. Driving to your local grocery is a simple procedure, with few possibilities of exceptions. Driving across the country has a ton of variables and dynamism to it.

While complexity can help drive the decision to automate, I strongly recommend that when thinking about it don’t ask if it can be automated, only ask what would be involved if a human were to do the job or how it is done with current technologies. Starting with the answer of automation leads to automation for automation’s sake, and that is a waste.

Dynamics is how much the process changes – some change rarely while others change rapidly to keep pace in response to changes in product or external factors (such as regulations).

Strategic importance asks about the value the process contributes to meeting requirements. Is the process a core competency, or an enabling process that needs to be accomplished to ensure that you can do something else that meets the core requirements? Needless to say, one company’s strategic process is another company’s routine process, which is why more and more we are looking at organizations as ecosystems.

Processes are in a hierarchy, and we use levels to describe the subdivision of processes. We’ve discussed the difference between process, procedure and task. At the process level we usually have the high-level process, the architecture level, which are the big things an organization does (e.g. research, manufacture, distribute), mid-level processes that are more discrete activities (e.g. perform a clinical study) to even more discrete processes (e.g. launch a study) which usually have several levels (e.g. select sites, manage TMF) to finally procedure and task.

Level of ProcessIncludesKey Ways to Address
High-Level ProcessHow key objectives are met, highly cross functionalOrganization design. System Design
Mid-level ProcessHow a specific set of departments do their major work blocksProcess Improvement
Low-level processHow individuals conduct their work in sub-blocksKnowledge management, task analysis, training
Levels of Process

To truly get to this level of understanding of process, we need to understand just what our process is, which is where tools like the SIPOC or Process Scope diagram can come in handy.

Process Scope Diagram

To understand a process we want to understand six major aspects: Output, Input, Enablers, Controls, Process Flow, People.

Complex and Complicated as Tools for Process Understanding

Simple processes usually follow a consistent, well-defined sequence of steps with clearly defined rules. Each step or task can be precisely defined, and the sequence lacks branches or exceptions.

More complicated processes involve branches and exceptions, usually draw on many rules, and tend to be slightly less defined. Complicated processes require more initiative on the part of human performers.

Complex processes are ones that require a high level of initiative and creativity from people. These processes rapidly change and evolve as time passes. Successful performance usually requires a connection to an evolving body of knowledge. They are highly creative and have a large degree of unpredictability. Most complex processes are viewed at the system level.

Sources

  • Benedict, T. et al. BPM CBOK Version 4.0: Guide to the Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge. ABMP International, 2019.
  • Harmon, Paul. Business Process Change. Morgan Kaufmann, 2019.
  • Nuland, Y. and Duffy, G. Validating a Best Practice. Productivity Press, 2020

Process and procedure complexity

People are at the heart of any organization. They set the organization’s goals, they manage it, they deal with suppliers and customers and they work together to produce results.

We manage this by processes. Process are on a continuum by how complicated and complex they are. Simpler jobs can be reliably done by following procedure. More complex ones require the ability to analyze a situation – using established rules – and decide which of several alternative paths to follow. In even more complex cases they analyze, diagnose, design, redesign, program, plan or schedule. In some cases, they create new products, processes and new ways of being. Very complex jobs require individuals who can analyze and solve very complex problems.

These complex, knowledge driven processes get difficult to provide as work-as-prescribed. The work involves thought and creativity, and finding the right balance is a continual balancing act of knowledge management.