Are you in control of your processes (or is someone else?)


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We are considering these questions:

Are your processes reactive or proactive? Do you exercise control through process, or is the process managing you? What role does the customer play in your processes – passive onlooker or active participant? Do you have a plan for maturing your processes in order to significantly reduce costs, enhance service and grow revenues?

In the ground-breaking book “The principles of Scientific Management” (published in 1911) Frederick Winslow Taylor observed “The first step in gaining control over an Organisation is to know and understand the basic processes.” One hundred years later this has never been more important and is a central theme for progressive organisations i.e. getting and maintaining control of all activities and tasks that contribute to the delivery of a Successful Outcome.

1. Are your processes reactive or proactive?
For those familiar with the ‘Moments of Truth’ concept (see here) we understand that all work is ultimately caused by customer interactions. Frequently negative and often unsatisfactory interactions create the work we see every day within our companies. If we examine the Moments of Truth we understand the very nature and shape of work that will result. Will the process be simple and create positive outcomes? Does the process appear convoluted with many checkpoints and possible errors? There is a secret known to leading companies such as Apple, Bestbuy and Google.

2. Who is in control – or is the process managing you?
With all the talk in the process world of ‘process owner’ you could believe there was a science to identifying, managing and maturing processes. Is this so? Some would claim to have process repositories with well documented and indexed processes accessible at the touch of a button. Process ownership and records do not mean control. Consider this as an example. Customer Call Centre processes are to a very great extent initiated and pushed by customer interactions. We track calls, measure cycle times, identify waits, reduce talk time, optimise scripts and try to answer queries. All this activity is driven by customer behaviour. There is an illusion of control because we measure, some would say excessively, everything that moves. Gaining control of a process involves more that measures acted on retrospectively. True process control involves a series of specific and easy to apply techniques that transform and redefine the process landscape.

3. What role does the customer play in your process (and is it important)?
“My job isn’t the customer. That is for the guys in sales and marketing and customer service and collections. I do the accounts/program/manage people/motivate/create strategy…” This is an accepted reality for many. It appears to be true that the customers do not figure directly in their work. However the only reason the job exists is to contribute to product or service bought by customers. Through that we collect revenue that ultimately results in profit for the share-holder. It is therefore logical to suggest that everything the organisation does should be explicitly linked to a Successful Customer Outcome. Accordingly you should be able to articulate what contribution any activity or task makes to the ultimate outcome. If you can understand the role of the customer in every process you can eradicate all that stuff that doesn’t contribute positively. There is a systematic way to do this with immediate positive results for the people, process, enterprise and customer.

4. Do you need to improve your processes and if so how do you?
All work is process. Whether we have a structure or means of capturing activities and tasks it comes down to the same thing. Creating a picture of what is happening and then managing that picture to a better place than now. Is that part of your process world, and how do you approach it? Are all processes viewed as virtual productions lines trapped inside functional specialist silo’s. How many processes cut across the organisation and extend to the customer experience? Where does the process start and end? When the phone rings (reactive) or at your initiation (pro-active?). Developing a process maturity model aligned to your business can deliver quantifiable results quickly. After all you don’t want to leave it to chance.

We’ll discuss the ‘solutions’ in the next update.
Meanwhile what is your view? See the latest at

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Towers
A seasoned practitioner with over 30 years of hands-on experience, Steve Towers is one of industry's noted experts in BPM, Customer Expectation Management and Performance transformation. Towers heads the Research & Professional Services network within the BP Group, the world's first and premier network for Process & Performance professionals.


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