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A Roast, a Business Process, and a Lesson

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business process

Since Thanksgiving and other winter holidays are upon us, I thought I’d remind you of a story you may have heard that illustrates an important principle… it’s the story of the Holiday Roast. 

The Holiday Roast Story 

One Thanksgiving, Wendy was preparing for the big mealseasoning the roast she was about to place into the oven, when her husband Mark came into the kitchen to help peel potatoes. Wendy was chopping carrots to add to the pan, when Mark noticed something peculiar and asked, “Why did you cut off that chunk of roast?” 

“Oh,” Wendy answered, “I don’t know. It’s a family tradition. We always cut the end off of the roast.” 

“Hmm, I wonder why,” Mark asked aloud, prompting Wendy to call her mother. 

“Mom, why do we cut the end off of the roast?” 

“Well, I did it because your grandmother used to do it. I think it makes it more tender,” Wendy’s mother replied, prompting Wendy to call her grandmother. 

“Grandma, why do we cut the end off of the roast?” 

“Wendy, I don’t know why you do it, but I did it because I was feeding a family of 6 and the roasts we would buy never fit in my baker. I cut off the end so it would.” 

The Frankenstein Process 

In this story, we see the origination of a tradition, that was built out of a necessity for a single person’s “process”. The next person to observe and learn, simply went through the motions of repeating what they saw, without knowing the “why” behind it. By the time it got to the third person, she took it for what she thought it was – tradition. 

This happens all the time in business, and leads to what I call a “Frankenstein process”. Often one person creates or tweaks a process that better fits their needs, and this gets passed on without anyone asking why. 

As a lean consultant, it’s part of my job to ask why. Together, we look through what’s working, and what isn’t and follow problematic processes back to the beginning, like Wendy did in the above story. We uncover why something isn’t working, and go back to the roots, so we can address it at that point, making it more effective and efficient going forward. 

Wendy’s grandmother came up with a solution, and the solution worked for her, but when a solution begins creating waste, lean methodology dives in and creates a better solution for current productivity – not just what worked in the past. If you frequently say (or hear), “I don’t know, we’ve just always done it that way,” it’s probably a good time for us to chat. 

 

PBEX, LLC provides a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them. Providing consulting and lean process improvement training, we are ready to support your organizational goals. Contact us today to learn more about lean business management and to schedule your review with a process improvement expert. 

3 Business Process Management Strategies

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business process management

(c) photo credit: wisegeek

Business process management is the starting point for an enterprise looking to improve efficiency and add value to the end consumer. There are several options in creating a robust business process management strategy, and knowing what is best for you will depend entirely on your goals, budget, culture, and leadership.

What is Business Process Management?

In general, business process management is an system of activities that seek to discover inefficiencies and create automation, systems, and processes to close the gap between what is happening and what the desired result is. Several strategies can be implemented to reach this goal including:

Software

There are several software solutions on the market designed to address a variety of needs. Cloud-based technology has allowed more connectivity then ever before, streamlining connections between departments, locations, vendors, and even customers.

Application development has made it easier to integrate with legacy systems and don’t require heavy programming requiring significant IT support or coders. Easier to understand and use, and faster to implement, BPM software solutions are a great tool.

Complete software packages are available, or they can be implemented on a smaller scale for specific business work flows such as HR, AP/AR, Inventory, Customer Management, or Manufacturing Processes, among others.

BPM Consultants

Business Process Management Consultants can work in a variety of ways to support an organization’s needs. Sometimes when a software solution is implemented, a consultant from the software company is assigned and works through the integration process. This can be very robust and time consuming, or, it can be quick and minimal, and it’s important to know what you need, and what you are paying for.

Other consultants are “software agnostic”, meaning they aren’t tied to a specific software, but may offer a methodology that discovers what business processes exist and how to best manage them.

BPM Consultants who specialize in Lean Manufacturing Concepts (ie. Six Sigma, Kaizen, TPS), are specially trained in strategies that reduce waste while maintaining high standards of production, safety, and morale.

A Combination of Software and a Business Process Management Consultant

While some industries may need only software, or only a consultant, most businesses will benefit from a combination of both. A Lean BPM consultant helps in uncovering, understanding and documenting business processes in ways that reduce waste and add value. Implementing software solutions without first getting  clear  the processes on paper will result in an ineffective fix and unforeseen errors that will have to be corrected.

Outside eyes, or the objectivity of a consultant, allows for adoption of new solutions that those within the organization have likely gone “blind” to. This objectivity allows for changes without the sometimes messy emotions, history, politics, or other behaviors that have halted progress in the past.

This also allows for the best decision-making as the entire strategy is pre-planned, implemented, tested and revisited. In essence, the support of a consultant makes the software options cleaner and more effective.

 

Looking for business process management from a skilled, lean consultant? Ready to dig in and really understand your processes and prepare them for a software implementation? Contact PBEX, LLC today to learn more or to get started.