Characteristics of Promising Practices

In my previous article I covered the tasks necessary to prepare for a promising practices initiative, including setting a project scope, mapping your business processes, and creating a project plan and communication strategy. Let's take the next step and look at common characteristics of promising practices.

Regardless of the business process under review, promising practices can be expected to embody similar principles and characteristics. In other words, effective and efficient business processes tend to follow similar lines of development. The following principles have guided organizations to develop processes that are more effective and responsive to customer needs:

Ownership of tasks has been reorganized, and accountability for results made clear. By reorganizing and combining several tasks into one, the responsibility for a larger part of the total business process can be assigned to one person or work team. This can reduce hand-offs, and increase accountability, with a net result of a more efficient and customer-effective process.

Tasks are performed in logical order. Process tasks have been freed from a linear sequence, with many tasks able to be performed simultaneously.

Processes have multiple versions. In order to accommodate multiple requirements, of varying complexity, multiple versions or streams of a process have been designed. A single complex process designed to handle all eventualities has been replaced with several less-cumbersome solutions.

Work is performed where it makes the most sense. Benefit can be derived from identifying the logical place in the process for particular tasks to take place, regardless of organizational boundaries. WARNING: One thing that is generally NOT acceptable is off-loading more work on the 'customers' of the process.

Checks and controls are reduced, reconciliation is minimized. A well-designed process has quality built-in, substitutes error avoidance for error detection, and employs deferred checkpoints to identify problems in the system. Each contact or information transfer point between organizations usually results in a need to reconcile data; this can be alleviated by reduction or elimination of transfer points.

Let me sum up these points by noting that each of these characteristics of promising practices has a component of risk management, as opposed to risk avoidance – i.e. the excessive scrutiny and review intended to eliminate all possible errors and the possibility of 'bad decisions'.

Final point, when making recommendations about how people do work, you need to recognize that solutions are usually inter-related and synergistic i.e. one builds on another to make the end result more effective.

Ideally, strategic business planning, internal and external communication, human resources, efficient processes, and information technology are brought together and linked by a framework confirming accountability and responsibility for delivering the work of the organization.

Think Staff and Skills - Structure - Strategy – Systems for a quick mnemonic to remind you of this fact.

See also:

Adapting Promising Practices

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