An old Chinese proverb goes, “If you want to know what water is, don’t ask a fish!” The idea is, a fish has never lived outside its watery world; it’s too close to be objective, taking it for granted. Moreover, a fish has no ability to change its natural environment.
Likewise, a business owner immersed in a disorganized chaotic environment, surrounded by errors and employee miscommunications, assumes it’s also natural. Too close to be objective, many businesses swim in chaos for years, believing it’s the way all small businesses operate.
To be fair, many small business owners have never worked in or studied a systemized business, and don’t bother to look into it. Consequently, they have little clue about how a systematic business process stream operates. The environment to which they have become accustomed is a world of swimming upstream; daily fighting the currents of chaos.
Not surprisingly, many of these business owners believe they will drown if they stop swimming long enough to fix the dysfunction. When an owner comes to this irrational notion, they lose objectivity and become hardened to change. Sadly, many are too proud to ask for HELP!
What is a Business Process Stream?
Like flowing water in a creek, a business process stream is how production or service flows from one process center to another. In short, it’s the step-by-step process of performing a service or making a product, start to finish.
- On-boarding the new customer
- Entering the work or service order to be performed in a BMP software
- Ordering the necessary supplies to fulfill the order
- Scheduling the work or service
- Entering all the Process Centers that will perform the actual work or service
- Quality Assurance of work or service
- Invoicing for the work or service
- Receiving payment for the work or service
For a business process stream to flow freely, bottlenecks should be removed. The fewer the obstacles, the faster the production and service process stream flows.
Process Management Upstream and Downstream
As you begin developing a Process Manual, also known as an Operations Manual, you start with the biggest hole in operations/production. In other words, concentrate on that area of operations that causes the most frustration, i.e. the most errors, miscommunications, etc.
Once the biggest frustration is resolved, move to the next biggest frustration. Now, move up and down your business process stream, removing bottlenecks and fixing the root causes of errors and other frustrations. Ultimately, your process stream will flow allowing for smooth sailing
To be sure, for every frustration in a process stream, there is a SYSTEM to FIX’M.
Ironically, in the world of Continual Improvement a fish bone diagram is used to help identify the sources of process variation, the root cause of a frustration.
Did I mention? Great systems work!