How to avoid a process crisis.

Recent mammoth process failures in New Zealand prompted a discussion at a CIO event on how process crises are repeated and how to best avoid them so it does not happen to a business.

We recently took part in a CIO event where the main topic of conversation was 'repeated process crises and how to avoid them'. Some recent large scale process failures in New Zealand prompted these discussions, and as it's in the news yet again this week we thought it important to share some of the key points from the lively discussion.

Three main hurdles were highlighted in the discussion:

Lack of Leadership: The majority of organisations accept that our processes and the way we deliver value for customers are critical to success. Yet less than 25% of those at the event had an executive level owner for process knowledge management. Strategies to protect and improve our process knowledge still seem below the radar of most of these executives. Teams buy into the importance of process excellence when it's included in the vision communicated from the top.

A weak brand: Basic terms like 'process' and 'standardised' actually have bad connotations at many organisations. The brand 'process improvement and quality' needs to be fixed - culturally we place greater value on ad hoc innovation attitudes over 'getting it right first time'.

Sharing process knowledge: Most organisations at the event admitted they suffered from ignored process documentation. Information is now shared in various online, immediate and dynamic forms such as; YouTube, Google, social media and smart phones - process knowledge sharing lags well behind these approaches. It's time to invest some time and effort to bring our process sharing up-to-date. Isn't it too important not to?

Everyone plays a part in process management (and improvement) and it's everyone's job to help ensure their organisation isn't the next leading news story, from the person on the shop floor making sure they read the process carefully to the executive team ensuring it's front and centre in their organisation. So, let's focus on how to avoid the crisis entirely, rather than wringing our hands over the damage control response each time.

'Enterprises that put processes front and centre consistently outperform those that don't. They're quicker to adapt to changing business conditions. They're more responsive to their customers. And they're seizing opportunities that are lifting revenue and profitability to a whole new place.'



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