Business Process Management: making your Process Library usefulTerry Giles
When putting together a process library for an organisation, one of the first questions you need to ask is, why do we need a process library?
Why do we need a Process Library?
In many cases this is a difficult question to answer, but it is an important one to think about. Having a process library is a good thing, but why?
The obvious answers are that it is a place where process, procedures, records and other such documentation can be kept and users can reference it and know that they are looking at the right documentation. If you have an ISO registered quality, health and safety, environmental or other such system, then it is also something that an auditor will look for - and the absence of such a library would make it rather difficult to maintain registration.
(If before reading on you would like to know what a process library is, please read this article: The Process Library Checklist: Integrate Your Team With Your Process Software)
On a day to day basis though, who does look at the documentation kept in the library?
Way back before most organisations had intranets, the documents describing the Quality/Environmental/Health and Safety Management Systems were held in paper form in the various Departmental Manager’s offices and were often referred to as ‘Shelfware’ and only opened up the week before an audit. Are things any better now?
With the advent of intranets the answer is yes, but possibly only to a certain extent.
Who should be using the Process Library?
My experience is that the main group that most process library designers think should be using the library, are the least likely to use it on a day-to-day basis.
Established staff ‘know’ what they need to do and so do not consider it necessary to reference process and procedure documentation on a daily basis. Even if these users are fully involved in both the creation and review of the documentation, they do not necessarily see that they need to reference it during their day-to-day work. The exception to this being when they need a form or a template.
Who actually uses the Library?
There are however four other groups that do access process libraries - but on an ad-hoc basis:
- Staff who want to utilise a process they do not carry out on a day to day basis (such as claiming expenses or carrying out appraisals)
- Auditors (both internal and external)
- Process improvement teams
- New starters and trainees
Accordingly, understanding the needs of these groups really helps with designing a process library that can give a lot of benefit to an organisation.
From my perspective the most important of these groups is the latter; the new starters and the trainees.
New Starters and Trainees
One organisation I worked for had a dedicated call centre as part of its operation. Call centres tend to have a fairly transient workforce, which needs to be trained as quickly as possible before being let loose on the public.
Utilising the process library allowed the trainers to get the staff up and running in a much shorter time than previously, as all the new staff had to do was follow the documented steps in the process flow and where a script needed to be read out, a link to the required script was available, so they did not have to memorise the script. Looking at the logs of hits on the various pages in that organisation, it was clear that over 80% of the hits were from the call centre.
I found the next most frequent users were the process improvement teams, where a well laid out document library can be of great benefit.
Process Improvement Teams
Making changes to processes and procedures have an effect on processes and procedures, which either provide inputs or use the outputs. Understanding how the processes link, allows the effects of any changes to be investigated. Also if the process is well documented it will help the process improvement team understand what they are working with.
Have a Target Audience
So, in conclusion, to ensure that your process library is useful, think carefully about who the target audience is and get their input into what they would like it to look like.
When doing so, you will need to be prepared for differing and sometimes conflicting requirements. However, the good thing about using an intranet is that you can set up portals into your process library, which can satisfy most - if not all - users.
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Written by Terry Giles
Terry Giles is a consultant for TerryAG Consultancy. He has a great deal of experience in developing Business Management Systems based around a variety of models including ISO 9001, TL 9000, ISO 14001, EFQM, Baldrige, CMMi, ITIL, RiskIT and CobiT 4.1 & 5.