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What’s the point of process?
A world without process
Imagine a world without process, free to run wild and be creative, everybody does what they want, regardless of what anyone else is doing! Brilliant! Right?
So next imagine; Everybody is at work and suddenly the fire alarm goes off. What do you do? There is no process, no protocol, nobody has been assigned to check everyone is out of the burning building, no one knows who should call the fire brigade. Flames are beginning to rise and there is no assembly point that everyone should go to for safety because they have not been told on their entry interviews as it wasn’t part of an onboarding process. There are no fire exit signs because it wasn’t part of the health and safety process when the office was built. The result of a lack of process can be chaotic and fatal in the extreme.
Disaster in need of process
In history there are copious examples of where lack of a good, informative or even existing process has made events dramatically fail. One massive error that continues to occur is instances related to unit conversion. With America, Liberia and Burma being the only countries left still using the imperial system rather than the metric system, shared projects between countries and lack of universal standard and process in certain areas means that mistakes are made. When a unit might be forgotten to be transferred and entered in as an imperial instead of a metric unit and vice versa, chaos ensues.
NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter
In 1998, Nasa launched their 125 million Dollar ‘Mars Climate Orbiter’ which travelled for ten months before burning up in Mars’ atmosphere completely unexpectedly. After investigation into the event, NASA found that the fail was due to an error in unit conversion where the thruster force had been calculated in pounds but another piece of equipment took that value to mean the value in Newtons, meaning the value was off by a factor of five leading to catastrophic error.
If this unit conversion or equipment unit checking was a step in the orbiter building and launching process, this mistake may not have been made and NASA would have saved millions by just perfecting their process!
Why do I need process?
So, you’ve just started a new job and you have been tasked with making sure the onboarding process runs smoothly. One problem: The person before you was so good at their job that they never wrote down how to do it or where they kept any information that was necessary to carry out certain steps. Now you are going to run into all the same problems that they came across when trying to create the exact same perfect process that was in their head all over again. These things need to be written down to save time and stop draining resources. There’s nothing worse than coming over a problem that you have tackled before and not being able to remember how you did it the last time. Creating the same process over and over again is like trying to find the solution to a problem that keeps cropping up. It’s almost like reinventing the wheel every time you want to get in the car! The solution is the same every time, it just needs to be recorded so it can be used, solving common problems quicker and leaving time to tackle harder, less frequent problems.
Continuous improvement for your business
A process in a business can help that business continuously improve. When processes are made they can be followed and amended depending on their quality so that each time a process is used it can be made better and better helping your business to run more smoothly and efficiently each time. The key is how you get people to tell you what’s wrong with a process when they are doing it. A process can help you organise your tasks and help you gain control and a clear mind. With an already complicated business a clean and organised process system is what you need to keep quality control and assurance for you and your customers.
A process allows you to easily access the knowledge that has been accumulated through different people carrying out different tasks and processes and making it accessible for anyone that needs to use it, preventing past mistakes, increasing productivity and saving time and money.