During the next weeks, we are going to publish a series of articles to share the results of our Best Practice in Process Management workshops which we’ve performed within Q1/2013. Overall, participants from eleven organizations representing industry sectors such as transportation, infrastructure, commerce, and aviation participated in the workshops and we enjoyed lively and fruitful discussions with regards to several process management topics.
Today, I would like to introduce the results of the “Process Standardization / Global Processes” workshop which were recorded by our colleague Lasse Härtel. – Thank you, Lasse! 🙂
Questions we discussed in the workshop were:
– What is the objective of standardization?
– What is the right level of standardization?
– How to analyze and choose processes for standardization?
– How to get to standardization?
As a first and very important result we found out that before talking about standardization it has to be defined what is meant by “standardization”. Standardization can be achieved on many different levels reaching from a uniform and integrated business management system over similar and harmonized process flows to totally standardized processes regarding tools, systems, and management roles.
Thus, we differentiated between harmonization and standardization. Harmonization means the creation of a basis for a uniform and integrated process management system (e.g. replacement or integration of legacy documents). Similar or equal process flows at different locations are also part of harmonization. When harmonizing process flows, it has to be avoided to create pseudo-harmonization which means a harmonized process documentation not depicting reality at all.
Once an organization has established a harmonized and company-wide process management system and a defined process model, it can start to really standardize processes by defining standard process flows for each division and location using same tools and management roles for all processes. So harmonization is a preliminary stage of standardization which would, in perfection, allow to exchange employees between different locations and process instances without additional training.
During workshop discussions it became very obvious that the right level of standardization varies depending on the organizational structure, individual framework conditions, process management maturity, and the objectives of process standardization. So, for example, there might be organizations producing extremely specialized and unique products bounded to strict costumer requirements, what makes generalized standard processes difficult to establish. But even for those organizations standardization is possible, but on a different level. According to the workshop results, processes in general can be standardized for a whole organization with different sites in different countries, for single divisions, for product lines, or certain clients.
As a promising practice for standardization of highly specialized processes the establishment and definition of “guide rails” was identified. These “guide rails” allow specific process variants within a standardized framework leaving space for creativity.
For organizations producing standardized products in different locations, process standardization could be a way to guarantee the objective “one face to the costumer”. Besides, standardized processes facilitate organization-wide know-how exchange resulting in continuous process improvement.
To reach this high level of process standardization a promising practice seems to be to divide each standardization project in three different project phases following an initial prioritization pre-phase. Within the first project phase, the project is communicated to all relevant departments and locations, the project team (representative process experts from affected locations or departments) is defined and the future process owner is appointed. Within the second project phase the standard process design is being developed by the project team considering best practices of former process variants before standard process implementation follows in project phase three. The whole project is centrally coordinated and moderated by skilled moderators providing methodical support whereas the actual process design is developed by process experts. To ensure and maintain standardized and centrally coordinated process operations in complex international organizations, an adapted operational concept, clearly defined responsibilities as well as communication and escalation procedures are needed.
By the way, the process standardization approach of Lufthansa Technik was already described in an earlier post last year: JoinIN! – Process Standardization at Lufthansa Technik Group
We are going to present the workshop findings at our BPinPM.net Conference in September. Registration process will be opened in a few days. For more information, please visit the conference site.
If you’ve developed other promising practices in the area of process standardization, please feel free to comment on this post.
Thanks for reading this article!