Profitability or Stagnation? Efficiencies or Deficiencies? Part 2 of 3

Efficiencies or Deficiencies?

Do you want to build profitability in your company---and know how to improve execution to make that happen?

Part 1 of this article provides a short self- assessment online that any BPM practitioner, company employee or manager, or groups of employees can take. It only takes 5 minutes. And you get your results back compared to the full database.

Part 2 (below) uses the self- assessment to identify where your organization is in building execution capability (Beginning, Middle, or Advancing Process). Then it relates your company answers to the McKinsey 7S elements, and shows you how to evaluate the elements to build a more productive organization.

The I-4 Process Capability Self-Assessment

Begin by answering the questions in the I-4 Process Capability Self-Assessment below. It will take you less than 5 minutes. The easiest way to take the survey is online using this URL: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/I4Capability.

If you want to have several employees and managers take it in your company, contact me and I can give you a company code, or I can send the survey to the designated individuals. (Their names will remain confidential.) After taking it online, I will provide you a report that shows your results and how your organization compares to other organizations in the database.

I-4 Process Capability Self-Assessment

Question Column 1 Column 2
1. Have you reorganized recently to better serve customers but not much has changed regarding customer service satisfaction? Yes No
2. Is the company’s strategy changing your fundamental operations or just generating special projects? Special Projects Fundamental operations
3. Do you use data from customers and internal operations as the primary driver for decision-making? No Yes
4. Have you tried to make improvements in the company but have not seen the results you wanted? Yes No
5. Do you have customer complaints that are hard to resolve? Yes No
6. Does work involve more paper documents and complexity than necessary? Yes No
7. Have external regulations been incorporated into the work processes so they are smooth and easy to satisfy? No Yes
8. Are handoffs between employees and groups frequently the source of errors, confusion, or friction? Yes No
9. Can new employees quickly perform their primary tasks, as the company prefers them to be performed? No Yes
10. Are you able to incorporate consistent processes as you grow into new regions and globally? No Yes
11. Are employees pushing for clarifying individual roles or forming natural work groups? Clarifying individual roles Natural work groups
12. Are executives prioritizing work in their own division first before projects that benefit the company as a whole? Yes No
13. Is the most common first response to an error to ask “who made that mistake?” or “what went wrong?” Who made that mistake? What went wrong?
14. Do leaders provide answers to work problems or coach employees and teams to find answers on their own? Leaders provide answers Leaders coach employees
15. Does the company value the ability to analyze problems as much as it values domain expertise? No Yes

Download Assessment

After completing the assessment, count up how many of your answers are in Column 1 and then how many are in Column 2. The more answers you have in Column 2 the better, because Column 2 shows your company has more process capability, whereas Column 1 shows less process capability currently.

Process Capability Level One - BEGINNING

If you had 11 to 15 answers in Column 1 and 0 to 4 answers in Column 2, then not much is happening with process improvement in your company. Your company may want to do better, but it keeps trying to improve operational excellence by doing the same things and not making any progress. At this point the company is not paying attention to work processes, but it would benefit significantly from considering process improvement.

Process Capability Level Two - MIDDLE

If you had 6 to 10 answers in Column 1 and 5 to 9 answers in Column 2, then your company is moving toward more process capability, but process success has been mixed. Indeed, the company has likely paid some attention to work processes, and it has seen some successes and failures as a result, but you may not know why.

Process Capability Level Three – ADVANCING PROCESS

If you had 1 to 5 answers in Column 1 and 10 to 14 answers in Column 2, good for you! You are already on the road to incorporating process efficiencies and workforce effectiveness into the culture, daily work discipline, and profits!

Below I address the each assessment question to show how each question interacts with organizational capability and impacts operational excellence. Consider the actions suggested and see which ones are right for your company.

7S Framework

7S Framework

An easy way to gain insights from the self-assessment is to use to the McKinsey 7S model shown above. Robert H. Waterman and Tom Peters of McKinsey Consulting developed the seminal model in the 1980’s. The framework shows seven elements that need to be aligned and reinforced to improve performance. Thus, weak elements need to be improved to increase the synergy of the whole model and increase performance results. Each question in the I-4 Process Capability Self-Assessment is matched with its relevant 7S category below.

Let’s look at the questions in the I-4 Process Capability Self-Assessment along with each of the 7S categories.

Structure 1. Have you reorganized recently to serve customers but not much changed regarding customer service satisfaction?

Question 1 relates to Structure, or how the company is hierarchically organized, how tasks and people are specialized, and how authority is divided up.

Work processes run horizontally across units and functions in a company to produce an output for the customer. But structural reporting relationship usually are vertical not horizontal. Each executive is responsible for only parts of the horizontal process. It is hard to service customers across the company when leaders and employees are focused on their own BU or functional area.

Strategy 2. Is strategy changing your fundamental operations or just generating special projects?
Question 2 relates to Strategy, or ways to achieve a competitive advantage.

Companies will often create a strategic plan that has big goals, saying things like, “These are important goals. Pay attention to them but do them after your regular work.” If you answered “special projects” in Column 1 then your company is adding more work on top of the regular workload (or daily operations) and strategic plan is not focusing on daily operations. To remain competitive, the strategy needs to impact the work of the core products and services, namely, the daily work.

Ask yourself, does your company have a strategic plan? Is it communicated and available for all employees to see? Do managers and employees know how they can impact the strategic plan? If you want to impact strategy at the BEGINNING level, choose smaller process improvement projects that are within a single function or business unit. Save the more difficult cross-functional projects until Level Three.

Shared Values 3. Do you use data from customers and internal operations as the primary driver for decision-making?

Question 3 relates to Shared Values, or the core values of the organization that serve as guiding principles. For example, if your company is still entrepreneurial in spirit, these shared values suggest a customer responsive attitude and a fast-moving pace. Decisions are often based on dictums like, ”Get the sale,” or “Do whatever the customer needs.” Process improvement might be perceived as slow and not innovative, and bureaucratic. Data gathered from customers and internal operations may not float to the top in company decision-making.

At the BEGINNING level, process improvement might be seen as being counter cultural and risky. As companies grow, there is a need for stable work processes and standardization to scale. These companies come to realize the value of work processes and working with complete and accurate information. As the size of a company grows (100 employees or more, and $20 million or more in annual revenue), companies often feel the need for documented processes that are executed consistently.

Coming Soon! This final part, Part 3, looks at the last three elements in the 7S Model and then discusses how to build a company roadmap for your organization. Each of the questions in the survey is related by number to one of the 7S categories; then examples are given about the category and how it impacts execution.

Shelley Sweet
Author: Shelley SweetWebsite: http://www.i4process.com/
President, i4Process

Shelley Sweet, President of i4Process, Inc., is a leading BPM expert with over 20 years of experience. She has educated hundreds of individuals and organizations on how to better develop and manage their business process improvement projects through her successful consulting engagements and popular training workshops. She is the author of The BPI Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Guide to Make Your Business Process Improvement Projects Simple, Structured, and Successful (Cody-Cassidy Press, February 2014). She can be reached by email: ShelleySweet@i4Process.com, phone 650-493-1300, or visit her website at www.i4Process.com