10 best management practices for work processes.

Every business wants to be a high-performing organization, but how do you know when you’ve achieved that status?

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several authorities around the world conducted research with high-performing organizations to define their common characteristics.

The resulting excellence models were comprised of principles that described the organizational culture and best management practices that were used across key management areas.

This image depicts an integrated excellence model. The inner ring depicts the principles, culture of excellence, and the middle and outer rings describe the key management areas that include the best management practices.

For micro-size organizations (1-25 employees) there are 51 practices and for larger organizations there are about 102 practices.


Possible results from implementing an excellence model.

Over the past 20 years, these jurisdictions have developed award programs to recognize organizations that successfully implemented their respective excellence model and gathered data on performance. This data has revealed that award recipients experienced exceptional results such as:

Continually improving work processes is of particular interest to process improvement practitioners. Let’s examine practices and measures related to this result.

When it comes to continually improving work processes, there are 10 best management practices:

1. Design and document key processes.

2. Monitor and control processes to ensure service standards are met consistently.

3. Monitor and control processes to ensure system standards are met consistently (e.g. quality, environment, health & safety)

4. Ensure processes are in place to anticipate or adjust for change (e.g. legislation, new venture, innovation)

5. Take corrective action when problems occur.

6. Prevent recurrence of problems by making changes to processes.

7. Analyze processes on a regular basis and make changes aimed at continual improvement.

8. Communicate changes in process to all employees that touch the process.

9. Involve customers, suppliers, and/or partners in designing and analyzing processes.

10. Use external data to compare performance to other organizations (e.g. benchmarks).

Measure your performance.

Measurement is important to monitoring, controlling and improving work processes. The following measures are found in excellence models and are used by high performing organizations around the world.
They are particularly useful when measuring performance internally, and when benchmarking with other organizations externally:

Cycle times: 

  • response sound
  • turnaround time

Process design changes:

  • minor changes
  • major changes

Process capability: 

  • speed
  • accuracy

Level of service/product quality: 

  • customer satisfaction
  • service errors
  • conformance to product specifications
  • product defects

Performance of products and services: 

  • sales
  • refunds
  • warranty claims
  • repairs
  • replacements

Give the power to your people.

Over the past 30 years working with organizations across sectors, I have found it is very important for management and staff to take responsibility for these best management practices and key measures in the Work Processes area. After all, they are engaged in doing the work and have first-hand knowledge and experience when it comes to designing and documenting the key processes, working to improve such and selecting measures that will be used to monitor, control and gauge progress. 

Often considered a daunting task, both management and staff absolutely cringe at the thought of documenting key processes. However, key processes are of utmost importance to the organization as they have a strong linkage to organization goals such as the business plan, meeting customer requirements and improvement initiatives. 

And who better to implement these best practices than the people actually doing the work! Once everyone has been trained and engaged in this exercise, they find themselves being challenged to capture the current state and identify the desired future state and are most delighted to celebrate progress on improvement initiatives.

The responsibility for best management practices goes hand-in-hand with the observation that 95% of improvement ideas come from management and staff doing the work and the remaining 5% come from benchmarking or learning from others. With respect to the latter, one of my favorite resources for benchmarking is www.bpir.com.  It is a leading benchmarking and best practice site that contains many benchmarks, performance measures, best practice case studies, and articles on the theme of performance improvement.

Is your organization the best it can be? 

Listen to my webinar recording to get tips on how organizations can apply best management practices and reap the rewards.

Guest blogger bio.

Dawn Ringrose
is principal of Organizational Excellence Specialists (OES) and author of the Organizational Excellence Framework and accompanying turnkey toolkit.

She represents Canada on the Global Benchmarking Network (GBN) and the Organizational Excellence Technical Committee (OETC) QMD ASQ and is chair of a Canadian ISO Committee developing guidelines to implement an excellence model and related ISO standards. Join the conversation with OES

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