Process improvement tips from Kelvin Davidson, PGG Wrightson Seeds. Issue #6.

The Process Improvement Tips from the Trenches blog series shares process improvement tips, tricks and recommendations from process management professionals around the world.

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 Kelvin Davidson of PGG Wrightson Seeds

As Business Analyst (Business Improvement) for PGG Wrightson Seeds, Kelvin’s primary focus is on business process documentation and, most importantly, continuous improvement. We identify potential improvements to processes and systems, analyse whether the potential change makes sense financially and for the business, then implement the improvements.

PGG Wrightson Seeds is Australasia’s largest proprietary seed company, encompassing the full spectrum of activities from R&D and plant breeding, through to commercial seed multiplication and eventual sale of forage and cereal seed products to farmers.

Why is process important to your organisation?

The sheer breadth of activities that take place within PGG Wrightson Seeds means that there are many systems and processes that involve staff from multiple teams and business units – therefore we have many baton changes. Processes are crucial to ensure that these baton changes are carried out seamlessly and work continues to flow.

We also use processes to capture important IP and knowledge of the industry that has been accumulated over many years.

Finally, you can’t improve what you do without knowing what it is you’re doing in the first place. We are currently approaching the end of a 3-year project to document all of our business processes, which will then allow the real work of process improvement to begin.

What’s your biggest process management challenge?

What works well for us is that staff can see the benefits of having documented processes and once they’ve freed up the time to commit to the activity we make really good progress. Having a Business Improvement team and a dedicated resource is crucial, as is absolute commitment and backing from all senior managers.

We also publish all of our processes for staff on SharePoint. It means that they are easily accessible and it allows for centralised/controlled administration of the actual underlying processes within our BPM software.

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

That’s a hard question answer because I’d say that when it comes to getting staff to commit to writing their processes no approach is off the table!  We’ve found that anything that makes it easier for the business is vital – e.g. document templates, workshops at their site/office, centralized admin.

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

Based on my experience at PGG Wrightson Seeds and from chatting to other people in the process world, backing from senior management is essential – without it, you’re wasting your time.  Once you have the processes documented, it’s then about having the commitment to review and improve them year on year.  It’s all about the C and the A in Plan-Do-Check-Act.

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