Process improvement tips from Henry Eaton, City Of Karratha. Issue #3.

Henry EatonManager, Governance and Organisational Strategy, City of Karratha.
As Manager, Governance and Organisational Strategy for the City of Karratha, Henry is responsible for ensuring the City provides the building blocks for great customer service practices and quality governance systems for staff to follow. His role also includes business improvement initiatives at a corporate level and corporate performance management.  

The City of Karratha is the powerhouse of the resource rich Pilbara region, which produces 55% of Western Australia’s minerals and petroleum.

The Process Improvement Tips from the Trenches blog series shares process improvement tips, tricks and recommendations from process management professionals around the world. This week's expert is Henry Eaton from City Of Karratha.

As Manager, Governance and Organisational Strategy for the City of Karratha, Henry is responsible for ensuring the City provides the building blocks for great customer service practices and quality governance systems for staff to follow. His role also includes business improvement initiatives at a corporate level and corporate performance management.  

The City of Karratha is the powerhouse of the resource-rich Pilbara region, which produces 55% of Western Australia’sminerals and petroleum.

Why is process important to your organization?

Having well-developed processes provides a consistent approach and message to the organisation of accepted norms at the City of Karratha. Should there be conditional factors that influence a process, then guidelines are offered to ensure certain principles are observed in the decision making process. Over the period 2007–2014, the City experienced a lot of staffing changes that drove the requirement for a stable environment where processes can be easily recorded, stored and accessed by staff across the business.  A centralised process repository has provided a platform where new incoming staff have a starting point for their work without having to reinvent the wheel.

What’s your biggest process management challenge?

  1. Resourcing: Juggling workloads is a constant battle amongst some teams that are very process driven. While it is acknowledged and agreed that it is important to ensure our processes are kept current and reflective of needs and standards, operational work cannot be set aside as often tight time frames are in place to get jobs completed. Prioritization of work is essential and recognition of the importance of keeping our processes up to date can sometimes be forgotten during busy times. Some staff tend to delay their process updates until they have a quiet time.  
  2. Process writing consistency: Ensuring processes are easy to read and comprehendible. The standard of writing is not always consistent.  In 2017 our process champions will be proactively working to ensure improved consistency in terms of process writing.

What works well at your company?

  1. Monthly Process Management Training Sessions: We provide monthly basic process management training sessions for our staff. Over 255 staff have undertaken some level of process management training to date. The training meets the needs of new staff entering the business or staff who are seeking some level of refresher training. The regular training sessions also give me a chance to ask about staff experiences when they joined the organization -  whether they were inducted well with sound procedures, or whether information was hard to find.  They’re a good way for me to gauge the effectiveness of different work areas on process delivery and induction processes.

  2. Process development on cross departmental issues: We have performed well where we have had stakeholder engagement and testing of processes before they are generally accepted by (and published to) the masses. We use interested stakeholders to be the guinea pigs to test out systems, wording of processes etc to ensure that they can be readily understood and are not likely to cause confusion. This has been particularly effective in our procurement streams and in contract administration - areas that can be very complex.

What’s the most unusual approach to process improvement you’ve tried?

Leveraging the Competitive Spirit: The executive team at the City of Karratha have a fun and competitive rivalry between themselves at times so I have tried to have a competition amongst the directorates to not only get their processes completed as quickly as possible, but also to ensure their processes are not sitting in progress for too long.

We used a scoping document to identify key processes across the business initially, and now we have monthly updates that provide an indicator of the level of activity occurring within those directorates towards the goal of completing their processes.

What’s your top Tip from the Trenches, a process improvement recommendation for other organizations?

Management buy-in is essential.  Get the buy in from your management team and keep them informed of developments and progress. It is also important for them to understand the commitment required to complete a process from A-Z, especially if there are many attachments, links and references that will make the end product extremely useful. The time commitment is often underestimated but the rewards are worth it! 

In terms of driving staff buy in, teams will be interested in engaging in process improvement efforts if they can see a benefit to them and if they have had the requisite training to be comfortable with the process management tool. 

Want to learn more about how the City of Karratha has streamlined processes and improved efficiencies to meet community demands?  View the Case Study Summary.

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