Process approach is one of the management concepts. It has been finally formed during the eighties last century. According to this concept all activities of the organization are considered as a set of processes. If you want manage enterprise you need to manage processes. Process approach has become a key element of quality improvement.
The main idea of process approach is a concept of process. There are different definitions of process, but it is usually used the definition from ISO 9001 standard. “A process – set of interrelated or interacting activities that use inputs to deliver an intended result.” An important part of the process is systematic steps. Steps of the process should be repeatable. If steps are random – it is not a process.
Process approach objective
The process approach was designed in order to create horizontal relationships in organizations. Units and staff involved in the same process can coordinate it themselves. They can solve problems without top management. The process approach allows to solve arising issues and to influence the result more quickly.
Process management in contrast to the functional approach allows you to focus not on the work of each of the units, but on the results of the whole organization. The process approach changes the concept of organization structure. The process becomes the main element of organization. In accordance with one of the principles of the process approach the organization consists not of the units, but of the processes.
Process approach principles
The process approach is based on several principles. The implementation of these principles can significantly improve work efficiency. However, the process approach requires a high corporate culture. The transition from functional to process management requires teamwork from employees. These employees may relate to different units. The "efficiency" of the principles will depend on ability of organization to achieve teamwork for employees.
It is important to follow several principles when implementing process control:
- Process relationship. Organization is a network of processes. Any activity where the work takes place is process. All processes of the organization are interconnected;
- Process demand. Each process should have a goal, and its results should be demand. The results of the process must have its own internal or external consumer;
- Process documenting. Process activities need to be documented. It allows you to standardize the process and get the basis for change and further improvement of the process;
- Process control. Each process has a beginning and an end that define the scope of the process. Within the scope for each process should be determined the indicators which characterizing the process and its results.
- Responsibility for the process. Different specialists and employees can be involved in the process, but one person should be responsible for the process and its results.
Key elements of the process approach
The process approach includes a number of key elements. It cannot be implemented in an organization without these elements.
These key elements include:
- Process owner;
- Process customers and suppliers;
- Process indicators.
The elements that change during the execution of actions are inputs of the process. Process inputs can be materials, equipment, documentation, various information, personnel, finances, etc.
The expected results are outputs of the process. The output can be a material product, various services or information.
The elements required for a process are resources. Resources are not changed in the process. Process approach determines equipment, documentation, finance, personnel, infrastructure, environment, etc as resources.
Process owner - This concept is introduced as one of the most important. Each process must have its owner. The owner is a person who has the necessary resources and is responsible for the final result (output) of the process.
Each process must have suppliers and customers. Suppliers give inputs into the process. Customers are interested into outputs. The process can have external and internal suppliers and customers. If the process has no suppliers, the process will fail. If the process has no customers, the process will be unnecessary.
Indicators are necessary to obtain information about process and to make appropriate management decisions. Indicators are a set of quantitative or qualitative parameters that characterize the process and its result (output).
Process approach advantages
Process approach has a number of advantages in relation to functional approach. These advantages appear because of horizontal communication between organizational units.
The main advantages of the process approach are:
- Coordination of actions between organizational units inside the scope of the process;
- Process result orientation;
- Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization;
- Clarity of actions to achieve the result;
- Improving the predictability of the results;
- Determine opportunities for process improvement;
- Removing obstacles between organizational units;
- Reduce unnecessary vertical relationships;
- Excluding unused processes;
- Reduction waste of time and material inputs.
Improvement of activities based on the process approach
Process approach is the basis of several popular and effective concepts to improve the work of organizations. There are four directions that use the process approach as the main approach to improve performance.
These directions include:
- Total quality management (TQM). This is a concept that provides for continuous improvement of the quality of products, processes and management system of the organization. Customer satisfaction is basis of the organization activity.
- Continuous Improvement Process. This is a concept that provides small improvements in all components of the process. These improvements are performed continuously. Japanese “Kaizen” is the most well-known method which uses the continuous improvement of the processes.
- Business Process Improvement or Business Process Management. This method helps organizations to improve efficiency through optimize business processes. Process changes are carried out step by step. And these changes are systematic.
- Business Process Re-engineering (BPR). This approach appeared in the early 90s of the 20th century. It is based on the rethinking of existing processes and their sweeping change (redesign). Re-engineering provides a rapid change processes in comparison with three methods above. BPR also use information technology as a basis of changes.