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Total Quality Management (TQM): continuous process optimization for top products and services

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Home Inspiration Blog | WoodWing

Process Management

7 minutes of reading

What is process management and how important is it?

From a startup to an established enterprise: processes occur in every organization. We all benefit from streamlined processes that help optimize workflows. The key to improving efficiency within your organization? Process management. We'll run you through the basics and practical applications.

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Contents of this article:

What is process management?

Process management is a way to keep things organized within a company. It's all about understanding and improving the way things are done so that everything runs smoother and everyone knows what is expected of them. Instead of just looking at what needs to be done, process management is about thinking about how it's done. Think about all the steps, decisions, and people involved in carrying out a task. The goal is to optimize those processes so that work is done more efficiently.

A big part of process management is continuously striving for improvement. Companies that embrace process management are constantly looking for ways to do things better. Whether it's making a process faster, reducing errors, or finding a cheaper way to do something - there's always room for improvement.

Another important aspect is standardization. In the context of standardization, companies try to establish consistent procedures and rules for how things are done. That way, everyone knows what is expected of them, and it becomes easier to do things without constantly reinventing the wheel.

Overall, process management is a tool to ensure that a company runs smoothly. By analyzing, improving, and standardizing processes, companies can save money, reduce errors, and better serve their customers.

What is a process?

Processes occur in every organization. Every department, function, and location has its own processes, often overlapping with each other. When do we speak of a process? And why is it important to document them?

Imagine making a pizza. You start by gathering all the ingredients - dough, tomato sauce, cheese - and then you begin the process of making the pizza. First, you roll out the dough, then you spread the tomato sauce, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake it all in the oven. In the end, a delicious pizza comes out - perfectly baked and ready to eat. In this example, making the pizza is the process. It's a series of steps you follow to achieve a specific goal, namely devouring a tasty pizza. Just like making a pizza is a process, processes can be distinguished in almost everything we do - whether it's handling a customer request, producing a product, or executing a project.

A process can be seen as a journey from start to finish, with different steps and decisions along the way. It usually starts with a certain input - such as raw materials, information, or requests - which is then processed and transformed through various activities to produce a desired output. Process management keeps an eye on this journey. It's like having a GPS for your business activities. It helps you understand the steps you take, where you can improve things, and how you can become more efficient in what you do.

So, essentially, process management is about understanding, managing, and optimizing these processes within an organization. It's not just about following the steps you've established, but also about constantly looking for ways to improve those steps. It's all about making your business efficient and effective - whether it's a pizza restaurant, a tech startup, or a non-profit organization.


What does a process manager do?

A process manager is responsible for the processes within your organization. He or she is tasked with managing, analyzing, and optimizing the various processes. They are responsible for understanding how things are done and identifying ways to do them better. This often involves mapping existing processes, identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and implementing improvements to increase performance. WoodWing Scienta assists process managers in describing processes.

An important aspect of a process manager's work is collecting and analyzing data. They use this data to gain insight into how processes are going, where problems are occurring, and where improvements can be made. This enables them to make informed decisions about how to improve an organization's operational efficiency.

Another important aspect of a process manager's work is collaborating with various players within the organization. This can range from working with managers and team leaders to redesign processes, to training employees to follow new procedures. Process management is all about creating a culture of improvement. In addition to managing and optimizing existing processes, a process manager also often plays a role in implementing new processes and systems. This could include introducing new software to automate processes, or developing new procedures to meet changing needs.

In short, a process manager is like the engine behind the scenes of an organization, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and finding ways (and finding them) to do things even better. It's a challenging and dynamic role that is essential for the success of an organization in the modern business environment.

The benefits of process management

Solid process management offers a lot of benefits for your organization - small or large. Let's look at how process management can help your organization.

  • Process management is good for your efficiency. Imagine you have a delivery company that delivers packages. If your processes are well organized, your delivery drivers can deliver packages to customers in no time. More efficient processes simply mean getting more done in less time and with less effort.
  • The quality of your product or service improves with good process management. Let's go back to that delivery service. If you have a tight process for handling and delivering packages, that means consistent good service for your customers. No more wrong delivered packages or forgotten items. Consistency is the key to quality.
  • With process management, you save money. Think of more efficient use of resources, fewer unnecessary steps in your workflow, and smarter ways of doing things. That means more money in your pocket and less waste from inefficient work.
  • Good process management ensures a better customer experience. Think of faster delivery, accurate orders, and friendly service. When customers are satisfied, they come back for more and tell their friends about their good experiences.
  • With process management, you can quickly respond to changes in the market or customer needs. Imagine you want to launch a new product. With a flexible process, you can quickly develop new products, collect customer feedback, and adapt to what works and what doesn't. That's how you grow and take your business to new heights.

The difference between process management and quality management

Process management is about optimizing how things are done in an organization. It's about understanding, analyzing, and improving the steps needed to achieve a certain goal. By mapping and improving processes, everyone within your organization works better, and you naturally see better results.

Quality management and process management are both part of a bigger picture, but not quite the same. Quality management focuses on ensuring the quality you deliver. It's about establishing criteria and ensuring compliance with them. This systematic approach aims to plan, control, and improve the quality of your products or services. You can therefore see process management as part of quality management.

Process management aims to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and shorten lead times. We want tasks to be carried out effectively and resources to be used optimally. It's all about smoothly running the daily business. Quality management aims to deliver consistent, reliable results that meet customer expectations. The goal is to increase customer satisfaction and encourage repeat purchases. You want customers to be happy with what they get and have confidence in what you deliver.

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Process management methods

There are several methods of process management that organizations can use to manage, analyze, and optimize their workflows. We'll explain some of these methods.

Business Process Management (BPM)

Business Process Management is a method where organizations visually map their processes, often using diagrams or flowcharts. By modeling and graphically representing processes, organizations can better understand how they work and where inefficiencies occur. BPM helps identify bottlenecks and search for improvement opportunities.

Change often creates unrest in the workplace. By visualizing processes, more peace is created. According to studies, BPM also helps organizations to deliver higher quality and score better in terms of customer satisfaction.

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma methodology focuses on identifying and eliminating waste and variability in processes. Lean Six Sigma combines principles of Lean Management, aimed at minimizing waste, with Six Sigma, focused on reducing variation and improving quality. Through tools such as value stream mapping and root cause analysis, Lean Six Sigma helps organizations work more efficiently and deliver better quality.

Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)

With BPR, you look from the beginning at why tasks are performed as they are and whether they - possibly with the help of new technologies - can be streamlined. With this method, processes are radically redesigned to achieve significant improvements. BPR does not focus solely on improving existing processes but also on reinventing them as necessary. This can lead to dramatic changes.

Agile methods

The term agile is undoubtedly familiar to you - even if you don't know what it means. Agile originated in software development, but the methods are increasingly being applied in process management. Agile approaches, such as Scrum and Kanban, emphasize flexibility, collaboration, and improvement. They enable teams to quickly respond to changes, process and apply feedback, and continuously learn and improve.

How to implement process management?

Implementing process management in your organization is like laying a solid foundation for a house: it requires planning, dedication, and the right tools to make it work well. Start by analyzing your current processes, from receiving an order to delivering a product or service. Identify all the steps, who is involved in those steps, and how long it takes to complete them, to get a clear picture of where you stand. Does describing your organizational processes lead to problems? Here you will find some tips to help you create your process descriptions.

Look for areas where bottlenecks - duplicate data entry, unnecessary steps, waiting times, etc. - occur. By identifying these bottlenecks, you can make improvements more easily and structured. Set clear goals and priorities based on what is most important to your organization. Also, start with small, manageable steps. For example, you can test a new procedure for a specific department or implement a new tool for automation. By implementing changes gradually, step by step, you minimize disruption and increase the chances of success.

Important: don't forget to involve your employees. Inform them and ask for input, from identifying bottlenecks to implementing improvements. Listen to their feedback, ideas, and concerns, and encourage them to actively contribute to improving the processes they work with daily. You will benefit greatly from this - not for nothing have we previously written about the importance of communication in process management.

Finally, it is important to monitor the progress of the implementation of process management. Use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) so you can check whether you are achieving your goals and whether the measures taken are bringing the desired effect. Adjust your approach based on your analysis of the results if necessary.

Getting started with process management

As you now know, process management for your organization is not a luxury but a necessity. From the smallest company to the largest multinational: we all deal with processes in our organizations. Processes that probably could be better. With solid process management - supplemented with quality management and knowledge management - you take your business to a higher level.

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Published on April 16, 2024

Kitty van Commenee

Kitty van Commenee, started as a Content Marketer and now a Demand Generation Manager, develops powerful marketing campaigns with a keen focus on writing, social media, and strategy.

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