Process Approach – a fantasy or a reality
As a management system developer, besides many reservations related to various aspects of ISO Management Systems (IMS’s), I really appreciate some of the lively elements of the same - The most prominent, in my opinion, is the concept of "process approach". This concept dramatically facilitate some extremely important activities like:
• development of a system from a scratch,
• finding out the causes of the problems, flaws and gaps in the existing system or
• finding the opportunities for improvement in the existing system in order to support continual improvement.
The common tool for the application of process approach is flowcharting. If you have not used it yet for the application of this approach, let’s give it a try. Start with one of your existing documented textual procedure. Read your procedure step by step and start illustrating each step of your procedure on your flow diagram. A sample process flow diagram is:
In end you would be surprised or even shocked when you clearly identify so many good and bad aspects you have not grasped while reviewing the same textual procedure before. Through this approach, you can easily identify:
1- Missing links between some steps of procedure. (Who do what after completing a particular task?)
2- Wastes of extra processes, avoidable delays, avoidable transportation and handling.
3- Missing necessary documentation for measurement of performance of the overall system or part of the system.
4- Unidentified process owner or stakeholders.
I wonder while examining some of the so-called management systems that are not designed through process approach. I personally found difficulty in understanding the basic structure of those systems. The users of ISO 9001, 14001, 22000 or any other IMS are well aware of this fact that all elements of any IMS are smartly interlinked with the magical spell of the process approach. The use of this approach makes clearly identifiable all inputs and outputs of processes and system of processes. Any one can easily visualize the overall structure of the management system and can easily integrate different management systems seamlessly. This is the miraculous outcome of using process approach and PDCA model. To me, any system that is not designed using process approach and PDCA model, would not achieve the ultimate objective of continual improvement.
Don’t be too late to standardize your critical processes and make your system lean, smart and efficient through this wonderful methodology.
Monday, April 5, 2010