Clarity, systematic improvement, compliance
A lot of people think about processes as a simple process diagram, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. There is much more information that goes into it than someone may expect. At PEDCO, and our platform Applied SAFe, we have transformed the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as a textual description on the web into an Agile QMS as a process model. We have seen, that not everybody understands the meaning of a process model or a modern agile QMS. With this article, we are laying out some of its attributes in an analogy of a simple process: ‘A new client for a bank’.
A good process model fosters:
- Clarity for each of the involved roles
- Leads to systematic improvement
- Lays the foundation for compliance
Imagine you are working at a bank and a customer is coming in for the first time. Usually, you have a small process like you agree to meet, you reserve a meeting room, prepare the documentation, and so forth. Then at the end, you have a new client.
However, if you look at the process in detail, it’s not clear what shall be done, what are the expected work products, and tools to use. For example, if you agree to meet, then you will have notes of their wishes, you will have to make a reservation, there will be a conversation protocol and more.
Now you know what the expected outcome of the process is, but it’s not clear who is going to do that. This is defined in various roles. The first three items are probably done by an assistant, and to make it simple, the rest is done by a consultant:
Imagine you are the new assistant. Do you know what you are and aren’t supposed to ask? Such as, if the customer has a valid identification with him. We need to make sure that at each step the appropriate role has the correct guidelines and checklists in place. If you have notes of wishes, reservations, etc. Where do you store it? Would it be on sticky notes or on a specific tool like a CRM, Outlook, Identity Tracker? You need to know at each step what tool you are supposed to use.
To improve your work, you need to understand what is going on in reality. One way to do that is to have measures in place and to let the numbers speak for your organization. In our experience, it’s good practice to start with simple metrics and just count the work products, such as the number of visits planned and clients identified. By having such simple numbers and then putting them into relation, you get derived metrics with a clear meaning. In our example, if you divide the number of ‘New clients registered’ by the ‘Client visits planned’ you will find your overall success rate. Further metrics can tell you how well you are doing in your processes, where there are gaps, and where you can improve.
Foundation for compliance
In some industries, it is very common that some of the steps in your process are also mandated by regulators (internal or external). Therefore, these need to be compliant with various regulations. To stay in our example, these regulations would be from FINMA or FED: What happens if the client is a citizen of Iran, USA, or North Korea? Are there additional things you have to do or reflect?
As a consultant, you need to know which activities are mandatory. You also have to know if some have to be done for sure or if they are tailorable to a situation. This same thought goes for tools, some tools are mandatory and others are not. In order to deploy a successful process in the long term, your processes need to be handled the same way, regardless of who has done it. This is a key requirement for an organization:
Any organization in a regulated environment must be able to show that they have measures in place to ensure proper behavior and that people are trained to fulfill their defined responsibilities.
Finally, let’s try to think about what happens if we have a new rule from the FED. For example, they want to have a double identification instead of simple identification. We now need to answer the question, ‘which tools, activities, guidelines, and metrics are affected by this change? What kind of action do we have to do in order to fulfill the new requirements and to be compliant again?
Now you see the full iceberg for a simple process and we never talked about special cases like, ‘what happens if the client identifier was not valid? A very simple process picture turned into a model with a lot of information, optimized for each practitioner to ensure that the right information is at hand at the right time.
Typical attributes of a good process model are:
- Different views, depending on the experience of the viewer
- Guidelines and Checklists available at the right place
- Tools used are mentioned at the right place
- The process is a part of daily work activities
- Compliance can be proven at any given time
- Flexibility is built-in, freedom is given as a possibility
- Variations and changes to processes are very easy to perform. The model is built to deal with changes
This is exactly what we have done for the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). With Applied SAFe, we transformed SAFe into a fully-fledged process model.
Want to learn more about Applied SAFe and how it can help you to master your digital transformation? Visit our website at www.pedco.eu
Peter Pedross, CEO – PEDCO AG