One of the big challenges that any business faces is having the ability to systematize and scale the way that they do things. That’s one of the really great things that having consistent project management philosophies in an organization helps you achieve — a level of consistency and precision that organizations that don’t have a consistent way of managing their processes will never achieve.
While there has been some talk about having too much process being a hindrance to productivity, even on this site, the benefits of having strong processes in play in your organization are many.
For many organizations, the real issue comes up when they have to figure out how they can actually build these processes throughout their organization. While every organization is going to be a little different, here are five steps that you can use to set your organization up for successfully building strong processes across your business.
1. Have a consistent approach to your business
Your implementation of a strong process culture starts with a baseline of having a consistent viewpoint and approach that you take with every aspect of your business.
A recent client of mine was struggling with how to solidify and systematize their strategic communications and development programs, and we came up with a simple outline for them that was built around four stages of any idea:
- Build a foundation for what you want to achieve
- Create a performance structure
- Institutionalize the processes
- Reflect and renew
These four steps will give them the ability to tackle any problem from a common starting point, so that every situation has at least some commonality that can be a guide for any specific actions.
In your business, what does your current process look like? And, how can you break down the start of any new project, process, or activity in a way that it starts from a common starting point?
2. Put people in the right place to be successful
In our modern business climate, many of us need to wear tons of different hats. And, one challenge as you lay down the foundation for a consistent process delivery practice in your organization is that people may have had a tendency to drift into and take on roles that were convenient at the time, but which have very little impact on the long-term success of the organization.
That’s why it is important that as you begin to focus on creating new processes for your business, you also focus on the people and their role in making these processes successful.
Three key questions that you should be asking yourself and your teams to help set you and them up for success are:
- What are the outcomes we are trying to achieve?
- What skills and tools do we need to get there?
- What do we have internally and we do we need to bring in from the outside?
These three questions will help you clarify what you want to achieve and the talents and tools you need to accomplish your goals.
3. Measure! Measure! Measure!
One of the payoffs of creating consistent processes is that you should have the capability to measure your progress.
This in no way means that you should become a micromanager.
What this means, simply, is that you should have the ability to understand what some of the key milestones are and measure your progress against these milestones, consistently.
By setting up processes, understanding your outcomes, and measuring against the outcomes and key milestones, you are setting yourself up to be able to have a consistent snapshot of where you are on a project and where your organization is in terms of instituting and delivering on the promise of consistent project practices across the organization.
4. Make a commitment to project practices and processes
This seems obvious, but in too many cases we all make really great plans that don’t pan out because we don’t do the legwork of consistently delivering on our plans.
This is no different when you put forth the plan to create a strong process structure for your organization.
The old saying goes that you need to do something for 21 days before it becomes a habit, but in my experience, change in an organization takes even longer.
So the key is going to be making the commitment to create and adhere to these processes over and over again until they are second nature to your teams and organization.
You can help push this agenda by doing a few things for yourself:
- Make a calendar for yourself that lays out key points, tasks, and actions that you want and need to take to solidify the process consistency in your organization.
- Emphasize and reward the behaviors that you want to see repeated.
- Communicate the status, successes, and failures that you have had adjusting the processes and some of the key contributions that this new focus has made to the organization’s long term health and stability.
The real key for generating the momentum that you need to get your new, improved processes to stick in your organization is going to be that you buy in and commit to their success and that you become the most prominent supporter and advocate for this in your organization.
If your teams don’t see you buying in, they never will.
5. Reflect, reuse and renew
Much like the client that I mentioned earlier, it is important that you don’t just establish a new process and set it up to never be touched again. In fact, the opposite is actually true. You should be consistently reflecting on the processes that you have to make sure that they are meeting your needs, that they are giving you the best chance to succeed, and that they aren’t growing stale.
For many organizations, a good point to do that is at the end of a project or a segment. In many organizations and project management structures, this is called “best practices.”
The key for you and your organization is that you be consistent in how you gather and use your best practices as a tool to create the best, most efficient organization that you can.
Here are a few steps that I use with my clients to help guide them to a successful “best practices” session:
- What were our measures of success?
- Did we achieve those goals?
- If yes, why?
- If no, why not?
- What part of the processes worked well? Why?
- What part of the processes didn’t work as well as we wanted? Why?
- Can we strengthen the things that worked?
- What can we do to improve or eliminate the processes that didn’t work?
- What steps can we take to make these lessons learned a part of our processes going forward?
Depending on what your organization is working on, you may need more questions or less, but the key when going through this process is that you take a moment to stop, understand what worked and what didn’t work, why this happened…and build up the procedures you can to make sure that you take the lessons from this project forward with you in a meaningful way.
I know that each organization is facing its own challenges and issues, but establishing a set of repeatable processes will have a tremendous positive impact on your organization and its ability to sustain its success and grow.
Process is important, but so are the right tools to implement your process. ProjectManager.com offers real-time views of your project when planning, monitoring and reporting. It’s collaborative online suites of software solutions makes your job easier, but don’t take our word on it. See for yourself by taking it on a 30-day free trial.