Art Weeast, Director of Process Management at Jones International University, shows business professionals how to “think beyond the task of documenting policies and procedures to the intelligence of the information that is in those documents.” Pairing his technology and data expertise with his Lean Six Sigma and Organizational Change Management experience, Weeast helps organizations to create value within their documentation, solve common business problems, bridge communication gaps and effectively transition to a culture of enterprise-wide collaboration.
We were honored to have Art Weeast join our team to present his discipline that rests (and “relies”, he says) on policyIQ: “Process Intelligence: Leverage policyIQ Documentation to Promote Enterprise Collaboration”. (Watch the recording.)
While we’re presenting the highlights of the instruction here, it is plain to see that this is a hot topic that can span days, weeks and so on. Mr. Weeast encouraged audience members to connect with him. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll put you in touch!
What is Process Intelligence?
Process Intelligence, as defined by Weeast, is the simple concept of taking information that is documented in your procedures and connecting the dots between the entities (department to department, management to employees, employees to employees); this is what fosters collaboration. He encourages his audience to keep “what’s in it for me” (from the end user’s/employee’s perspective) in mind as you develop content. Consider, “What problems and questions can this documentation solve?”
To demonstrate the application of Process Intelligence practices, Weeast discussed three common problems:
- Employees and Management struggle to see the value in the documentation (mainly creating and maintaining the procedures)
- Work tasks are not clearly connected to executive priorities
- Business Units/Departments/Functions do not regularly collaborate on cross-functional process issues, often leading to tension and decreased productivity.
Make Your Documentation Useful for Solving Common Problems
The problem faced by many (maybe most) organizations: Employees and Management do not value the documentation.
Consider how you can make your documentation useful. Follow this three step process:
1) Set a course to establish more comprehensive documentation
Rather than tracking just the steps of the procedure, frequency, who performs…think of all of the everyday business questions that come up related to the procedures. Add Roles and Responsibilities, Applications Used, Definitions, Procedure Input and Output–these fields will help you to address common problems. Read further to see how.
2) Make it easy for process owners and your front-line doers to capture the documentation.
You don’t have to complete the fields in consecutive order–in fact, we recommend against that. Following a different order will actually be easier:
- Procedure Steps – Describe the process steps (10 or less) with an incomplete sentence. These become your “step” headlines. Then, for each step, fill in the details: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- Procedure Input – Looking at your steps, ask yourself “What gets this procedure started?”
- Procedure Output – How do you know when you’re done?
- Purpose – Now, it is easier to write a meaningful purpose.
- Roles & Responsibilities – Next, which roles are involved and what responsibilities are they carrying out?
- Applications Used – List the applications that are used.
- Definitions – List the definitions of key terms.
The result is a procedure that looks something like this:
3) Make use of the intelligence that is inherent in your documentation to solve business problems.
With updated, comprehensive procedures, you can address common problems…effectively and efficiently!
- IT: Which business units are still using “xx application” that we’re considering retiring?
- Managers: Where are the procedures that the new employee has to learn or follow? Are they current?
- Staff and Above: Where are all of the documents that contain the fax number that needs to be updated? Where is the source document for that PDF?
- Staff and Above: For this critical, cross-functional process, how many procedures describe this process and how many employees are performing this work?
Put your information to work for you!
Connect Executive Priorities to Everyday Tasks
The common problem: Work tasks are not clearly connected to executive priorities.
The front line doers, on a day to day basis, do more repeatable processes than executives do. At the executive level, it is unlikely that you will see procedures. This is one root cause for the disconnect. It’s no wonder that executives generally don’t “feel” the value of the documentation and therefore, the employees don’t “feel” the priority from the executives to create and maintain the documentation. So for most of us, documentation becomes an unwelcome task to do.
The Solution: Help your organization to establish the connection between top priorities of the business and the tasks that hardworking employees carry out day after day.
Subject Matter Expert, Art Weeast, developed a method for establishing this connection. He calls it an “Operational Map”.
The detailed steps to build your own Operational Map are available to policyIQ users from your policyIQ Help guide. In summary, you will:
- Document Primary Functions and Sub-functions from the Business Owner’s Perspective
- Assign a letter to each function, and a number to each sub-function.
- Prepare a List of Procedures for each Process Owner’s Area
- Create a visual (Detail Link Report) of Functions and Sub-functions
- Map each Procedure to it’s related Sub-Function by playing “Operational Bingo”. (i.e. “This procedure goes to B4, that one goes to H6…”)
The result is:
- Gaps immediately stand out: sub-functions with little or no procedures become apparent. Within a sub-function, key processes not mentioned in the list of procedures become apparent.• Gaps immediately stand out: sub-functions with little or no procedures become apparent. Within a sub-function, key processes not mentioned in the list of procedures become apparent.
- Executives come down to a level of detail that they rarely visit—they better understand what it takes to get things done! They begin to appreciate the value—and the NECESSITY—of the documentation in a more highly regulated and complex world.
- Process Owners (the do-ers) appreciate the collaboration with executives. They sense the tone from the top and the priority becomes clear. The do-ers begin to understand the bigger picture—the risks that the organization faces and the importance of what they’re being asked to do. And they are very curious about what that other department does!!
The Problem we aim to address: Linking executive objectives and risk to operational performance.
Four Steps to Cross-Functional Collaboration
Frustrations build in an organization when communication and collaboration breaks down or does not exist among certain parties. You can tell this is happening when you or others can easily blame someone for inadequate, inconsistent or untimely inputs into your process. Or others who put disruptive demands on you to produce an output with a nearly impossible delivery date and provide inadequate information needed to meet the demand. As soon as you sense the frustration or tension, you and others are beginning to personalize the process.
The art of establishing collaboration among cross-functional parties can be reduced to four main steps. These steps serve to “depersonalize” the process and issues by allowing the parties to focus on the process and the desired end result.
- Meeting: Bring functional representatives together for a collaborative process review; be sure to have a high level map of the process for everyone to focus on, and ideally this would be mediated by a neutral party.
- Current state: Have them describe the standard process; first without the history, exceptions or problems. Then revisit the standard process, identifying where issues and exceptions happen. Do not permit anyone to describe the solution along the way until you have agreement on the process.
- Future state: Now that the current state is defined, what does it look like? Re-draw your map. How is it better?
- Transition state: We go from current to future state through the transition state. Outline steps to get from where we are today to where we need to be; often times this is a project.
Think about what’s happening here. Typically, if anyone ever does dare to address the communication breakdown among parties, what do they typically do? They work to identify the issue(s) and to problem solve against those issues. The process outlined by Jones International University’s Director of Process Management, Art Weeast–who is an expert in operational and change management–takes an opposite approach; helping parties to very quickly begin working together effectively; the difference between fixing problems and solving problems is very subtle. This approach has proven to be more sustainable over time.
Join the Conversation!
For more information on Process Intelligence or on how you can use policyIQ to capture your procedures, create an organizational map or to “solve common business problems”, contact Support@policyIQ.com. Art Weeast also communicated that he is happy to take your questions. Let us know if you’d like for us to put you in touch with him.