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Continued from Previous……

Processes and Procedures Development

We now take up the topic of Processes and Procedures Development. This is the last but one topic before we sum up the whole discussion, but it is not the last in priority. Actually, everything in the realm of development is happening simultaneously. More on this later.

Processes – prevail even at the tiniest size. An organization is a living organism, and every organism has all needed sensory and motor functions: Hiring, staffing, accounting, administration, buying, producing, trading, marketing, selling, customer handling, surviving against threats, growing and more. Every activity has a process which may be as small as one step. For example, hiring may be done by the owner/entrepreneur in one step in few minutes; firing may also be done in a similar fashion. Accounting may be simply done on a diary, selling may be done verbally, buying may be done on phone; the list goes on. There is no hierarchy, and all decisions are done by one person in a similar.

Fast forward a few successful years, the office bustles with staff. There are several layers of hierarchy. The entrepreneur is busier in controlling, rather than doing things himself. The need for more elaborate processes arises so that the functions keep moving in the same direction. The number of materials to be purchased increases manifold, suppliers are added and the need for quality clearance and competitive pricing comes in. Hiring would not remain one-step, it may involve three separate tiers of managers. Selling prices and customer services may need approval processes, and so on.

The thing to remember in this area is that the process development should follow these principles.

  • Processes should not be allowed to grow by themselves, haphazardly. Their evolution should be monitored, directed, and controlled at all stages.
  • Processes should not be unnecessarily complicated as it would delay action. These should be kept simple, easy to apply, and straightforward.
  • Processes should reflect the value system of the organization.
  • Delegation of authority should be built into processes during development.
  • Process development should be proportionate with the growth of the organization. Too many elaborate processes in a small organization are a deformity.

Procedures – Procedures are the execution of processes. They help to define the exact pathway through which the process is implemented. For example, hiring process says that a vacancy will be advertised in-house and/or outside, applicants would be screened, interviews shall be done, selection would be finalized, and hiring would be completed. The procedure will define where and how the advertisement would be placed, who will interview first and who will come next, which forms would be used, who will sign and many other details.

Procedure development requires even more minute thinking. Flow diagrams must be logical, simple, and easy. Too many forms, too much paperwork wastes time and reduces productivity.

SOPs – Standard Operating Procedures term has become known and popular among public due to COVID. However, SOPs had been used in offices for a long time. Technical jobs like Production and Quality Control have elaborate SOPs to ensure that no part of the process is missed or altered. Supply chain has SOPs to ensure quality and prices of materials procured; Finance has SOPs to ensure integrity of accounts.

Policies – are the mother document of processes and procedures and should have come first, but I have deliberately put it last. Policies are guidelines from which processes and procedures flow. To have solid processes and procedures in place, clear and firm policies are the first step to start from. Policies come from the top, the CEO, the Directors, and the C-suite Executives. Policies affecting multiple functions, which are a majority, are determined by multiple Heads after mutual discussion. As a rule, all policies, processes, and procedures must be formally approved by the highest authority.

The ISO guidelines rely heavily on these three things, because this is the surest path to managing well and soundly.

Scaling up is a long process and it puts a lot of strain on people, services, policies, processes, and procedures. Things can go awry easily if not bound properly. The other two things which get stressed during scaling up are Culture and Values. We shall talk about these in the next post.

To be Continued……

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