Notwithstanding the horror story about child labor in Iowa’s agribusiness this week, business process management represents an ideal opportunity to examine Skills, Roles and Costs. The idea, of course, is that you can begin to identify the right people at the right pay grade for the task. Sound simple? Take a look around your shop today.
- what skills are really required for the task being performed in this process?
- what level of training and education are required?
- what level of authority is required?
- how much time is reasonably required to conduct the task?
- what value (to the customer) does the task deliver?
- what impact does this task have on quality where the product or service is concerned?
- are there any legal requirements being satisfied by this action?
- who is performing this task now?
- do their qualifications, experience, and place in the organizational structure match the requirements of the task?
- based on the time required, how much does this task actually cost us? (really do this math)
- what can be done to the task to either push it “down” or “up” the organizational structure where it might more appropriately belong?
- is the cost worthwhile in my customer’s estimation? (really ask this question)
Myth-Busting: Most Likely Savings Now
Having done this many times myself, I can attest to the immediate results. Given the state of our economy and your need for immediate relief, I strongly urge you to examine your processes from this perspective if it’s all you do. I assure you that savings are there somewhere if you simply ask: “what if someone with a lower pay grade were to do this?”
See It, Change It, Save It
If you don’t have current process models and diagrams, then get some. If the work and process is invisible to you, chances are the savings are too. If the process is visible, you won’t be able to help yourselves from asking “why do we do it that way?!” particularly after you cost the individual tasks out within a process.
Decisions Are Most Likely Culprit
For my money, I believe 95% of organizations include way too many “Get Supervisor Permission” and “Get Executive to Decide” steps in their processes. I promise you, take a close look at how your business rules (and lack thereof) are causing people to run down the hall and seek permission or guidance. Want to save money? Knock this bad habit off.
The Solution Is In The Business Rules
If it’s required that an employee take an action, define why. If your definition can be challenged, do so. Document your business rules and make sure that they are accessible to those who would seek permission and guidance. Would your competition enforce such a rule? Are they paying for it?
Executives Doing Executive Work
The other half of the solution is in managers doing management work, supervisors doing supervisory work and executives doing executive work. Trust me, this is the sticky part. It’s at this point that you will encounter executives who love to micro-manage and derive self-esteem from being the permission-granter and guide for their flock. It’s also where mediocre performers hide. The unconscious calculation is something like this: “If I fill my day with answering questions and guiding my flock, I don’t have to do my executive grade work.”