How to Draft Processes for your Organisation to Cope with the Increasing Workload? Standard Solutions to Reduce Organisational Workload In our routine lives, whenever work gets overwhelming we take breaks, delegate, or postpone it altogether for some other time. If such levels of work become routine, we move to more advanced solutions. In the case of organisations, things are no different except that the scope of postponing is rarely possible. Businesses also follow the same pattern. During the early stages, the workload is managed by a small team. With growth and expansion, businesses move to more advanced solutions. In this scenario, businesses have three options to make their workloads manageable: · Hire more employees across the organisation · Selective team expansion · Create new positions in the organisation structure · Realign organisation design and structure · Outsourcing · Implement automation and digitisation · Become a process-oriented enterprise The first four options are HR-related adjustments. Then, there is outsourcing. The last two concern operations planning which is the cornerstone of this blog. As retail and eCommerce consultants who have worked on numerous growth and expansion projects, we recommend that businesses need not wait to become overloaded with work to sort their operations frameworks. And the answer to having a robust operation framework is becoming process oriented. It is a requirement for all businesses right from day one of coming into existence. Further in this blog, we will see how processes are developed with an emphasis on optimising workloads. Process Development Procedure Identify areas with increased workloads Identifying the areas of business operations which have become burdensome is not a difficult task. If you are already making this assessment, you must already know the areas requiring improvisation. For example, if your business is consistently failing to disburse salaries on time, it is a clear indication of misjudged timelines, poor fund management, or operational deficiencies. This means that your payroll process planning and capabilities have become outdated to meet the new business requirements. Define the existing practices When you want to make a process or business activity more efficient and less burdensome, you must first assess your current practices. This assessment is an important groundwork to identify flaws, deviations, and scope for enhancing operational capabilities. Maintaining a planned approach in making this assessment is necessary. Some of the vital parameters here include: · Procedure, Flow of work · Input and output standards at every step in the workflow · People/positions involved · Places of activities · Timelines followed · Supervisions and reporting mechanism · Tools and resources used Re-establish outcomes and objectives Developing fresh business processes is a good opportunity to reassess and re-establish the functional, process and operational outcomes and objectives. It is common to lose sight of intended outcomes and the outcomes become the objectives. Using the previous example of delayed salary disbursal, if the delayed timelines are left unaddressed they become the norm. And everyone in that organisation begins to take that as ‘this is how it happens here’ leading to ‘let us realign our work and expectations that way’. This is a small example of how deviation in one affects other business processes. In this example of the payroll process, adhering to timelines need not be the only desired operational standard. There could be others like the accuracy of calculations and payment, adherence to the established approval mechanism, giving effect to necessary deductions, etc. Vision of the new process At this stage, the required process workflows are envisioned and mapped in light of the re-established process outcomes and objectives and overall business and functional requirements. This is not the final process but only a rough sketch of how the intended process would look like. This is the first broad analysis of how things are and how things need to be. It establishes the major process landmarks. For example, timelines are fixed for every task in the process; a component previously missing from the workflow definitions. It can also include consideration of automating some tasks in the process. Or process elements or steps identified as redundant could be eliminated. Gap analysis to find deviations and optimise change In gap analysis, the existing process/practices are compared with the vision of the new process. It helps reveal the areas for change. But gap analysis is also important to optimise the amount of change for all stakeholders including the business enterprise in question. A lesser need for change makes it easier to incorporate new processes or changes in the existing ones. Extending the same example of payroll, it will be easier for your HR department and organisation as a whole to get into a new operations framework for payroll with minimum changes. For instance, if new timelines are fixed for each task in the payroll process, employees will need quicker access to workflows and information-sharing so that they have sufficient time to execute their tasks and meet other operational standards. This could be achieved by using a suitable payroll software platform. This could be also achieved by providing necessary process training at a later stage. Final Process Definition with SOPs The information and insights gathered so far provide all the necessary ingredients to develop a new process using Standard Operating processes (SOPs). Let us relook at what we have assessed up till this stage: · Overburdened business processes/activities identified · Assessment of current practices for process execution · Re-establishment of process outcomes and objectives · Vision of the new process, broad mapping and important landmarks · Gap analysis, deviations between actual and required, change optimisation One additional ingredient required is knowledge and expertise in process design using SOPs. This expertise could be developed internally or by availing professional SOP development and implementation assistance services from the outside. Principles to be followed in Process and SOP Design Write it down Among all principles for process and SOP development, drafting is a primordial requirement. Writing may seem old-fashioned but it has certain inherent paybacks to the human perception that even time cannot corrode. Writing helps attain clarity and comprehensiveness of goals and actions. The same principle applies to writing business processes as well. Even if software applications have to be used to facilitate business processes and operations, having the procedures in a written and documented format is a prerequisite. We recommend not dodging this principle. While it may look old-style, written and graphical representations are one of the best ways to summarise a big picture. It also helps detect flaws and deviations in our preliminary thoughts. Drafting SOPs also facilitates building a future foundation of making improvisations in business processes and operations. It also provides an early break to instil the best practices and industry standards into the process definitions. The scope of innovation augments when operational vision and roadmaps are expressed and retained in physical forms like writing or graphical representations. Focus on the Process Requirements and Outcomes SOPs need to be objective and thus, it should be designed to accomplish the intended operational objectives out of it. The standards of input, output, and performance must stand unambiguously defined. It should specifically identify the doers and checkers. The duties, responsibilities, and accountabilities must be explicitly stated. The point is not to leave any operational detail undefined or uncertain in operational roadmaps. What can be planned should be planned. Coordination and Collaboration The successful execution of a business process involves stakeholders from both within and beyond an organisation. These stakeholders are customers, employees, contractors, suppliers, regulatory bodies, agencies, consultants, logistic partners, etc. Thus, it becomes vital to develop process SOPs covering the role of all the stakeholders involved in the concerned process. If the workflow is broken or roles and responsibilities are not well-established, the process will fail to deliver the desired output. Automation and Digitisation The aspects of digitisation and automation make SOPs for contemporary business enterprises different from the old-fashioned, paper-based SOPs. While it is still necessary to have documented SOPs, businesses need to see SOP design from the perspective of automation and digitisation requirements. There cannot be gaps between how processes are defined and in the assessment of automation and digitisation solutions. If process automation and digitisation are in mind, then SOPs cannot contain elements that the available software capabilities cannot provide. The adopted digitisation and automation solution must be able to deliver the intended results while maintaining the operational requirements as defined in the SOPs. It should also allow for all the necessary coordination and collaboration among various departments, processes, and process owners/stakeholders. Lead to Action SOPs must lead to action and output. SOP users should be able to make decisions or perform tasks when they are referring to the SOPs for the same. This means there is no room for doubts or ambiguities about decision-making or action in SOPs. For instance, payroll process SOPs should specify a trigger time for every payment cycle. This is a policy matter first and an operational requirement next. This process initiation trigger time should be ‘after this date’ or ‘between this and that date’. Learning and Training Just because SOPs are developed and launched does not automatically mean that their implementation will be successful. Any routine task or known workflows and practices can look alien when asked to be performed differently. If the shift is from a non-SOP to an SOP-based operations framework, it can take employees more time to embrace the new ways of working. It is true that experienced employees achieve proficiency and consistency at their work even when there are no SOPs. But when the same people are asked to follow SOPs, they might even experience hiccups. The same thing can happen to people coming from other companies. Thus, an integral element of SOP development and implementation to be effective at reducing workloads is relevant learning and training programs to help employees get convergent working with SOPs. With process automation and digitisation, the need for education and training assumes even higher significance. Improvisation SOPs are not just for managing operations in the state it exists today but it is also the groundwork for future operations improvisations to aid expansion or even optimization. To make this work, conscious and planned efforts are required. Periodical process audits would be one such effort. Also important is building a feedback mechanism that encourages and collects information and insights from process stakeholders across organisational structures. One problem with feedback mechanisms is that not all external enterprises in the value chain are keen to participate in the process improvisation of another enterprise. Executive sponsorship plays a vital role to secure such cooperation. As individuals and organisations, the natural tendency to reduce workload is sharing work with others. It takes the shape of outsourcing or adding more people to the team or making organisational adjustments. In a slightly advanced approach, outsourcing and automation are considered. All of these are good internal solutions barring outsourcing. But it does not take away the fundamental issues lying with operations planning. At some point in the future, the ad-hoc changes or the additional resources fall short and the problem of organisational workload re-emerges with increased business volumes and operations. Becoming a process-oriented enterprise nails it home. It becomes the foundation for process automation and digitisation. Even if it is about outsourcing, process insights help assess the quality of outsourcing service providers. FAQs What is Organisational Workload? Organisational Workload is the collective volume of work that organisations have to execute as a part of their routine operations. It includes the work of all departments like marketing and sales, HR, finance, administration, IT, logistics, inventory, etc. What is Organisational Workload Management? Handling excess volumes of work puts immense pressure on organisations and their various departments. Any excess workload in one department slows down the performance of other departments also. This weighs down organisational capabilities to execute its routine affairs to expected standards. Organisation Workload Management is the set of planned efforts to reduce or optimise such excess workloads. What are the methods for maintaining an organization with a large workload? Here are 7 strategies to optimise organisational workload: Hire more employees across the organisation Selective team expansion Create new positions in the organisation structure Realign organisation design and structure Outsourcing Implement automation and digitisation Become a process-oriented enterprise To speak to one of our business process consultants for any kind of assistance in SOP design and implementation or for more information on our SOP consulting services, please drop us a message on our website.