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How would you define process excellence?

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How would you define process excellence?  What is the key metric to measure a process?

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  • Measure outcomes, in terms that your customers understand. These will be at a higher level than the specific process

    So it could be 'First time fix on failure" for a service department or "CSAT rating" for a customer service organisation.

    Please let's forget shareholder value, throughput time or esoteric SixSigma measures. Customers do not care about these.

    I was with an analyst today and made a great comment - "Comapanies are are all about delivering customer results - profits are the way they measure how good they are".

  • I look at two key metrics to determine business process excellence -- customer satisfaction and efficiency. If a process has achieved its best possible customer satisfaction rating and is functioning at its most efficient level, it has moved to the "process excellence" category.

    That said, it's easy for a process owner to become sidetracked with all sorts of ancillary issues. However, if the focus remains on the basic fact of why any business exists -- to sell a product/service to customers -- these two metrics are "excellent" guides.

  • It's sort of like pornography in that – as Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart famously once wrote – it's hard to define but "I know it when I see it."

  • I'll suggest that process excellence is an emotional response to a process or set of processes. "Happiness" could be the very untechnical metric.

    If everybody is truly "happy" with an organization's processes, there is a good chance they are excellent. When we don't have process excellence, it is hard to measure but easy to observe: users don't fully adopt them and there is rarely additional investment.

  • We have divided this space - process management, that is - into seven key areas. People generally can remember seven things, so this is intended to be people friendly. Those areas are: strategic alignment, governance, process models, change management, performance and maturity, process improvement, and tools and technologies.

    Using those seven key areas, an organization demonstrating process excellence must have at the very least given some consideration to all seven. An excellent organization cannot focus on just process improvement, governance, or process models for example. An excellent organization cannot have simply adopted a tool and stopped there. An excellent organization has to have identified and struck the appropriate balance of their capabilities in each of these key areas.

    Oh, and by the way, what works for your orgnanization may not work for someone else; but identifying the criteria used to make the decisions about where to invest in these areas is huge. Excellent organizations have this self-realization about them.

    While it's tempting to say that there has to be a financial reason for all of this - one has to realize that thinking this way is very difficult to quantify in terms of benefits to an organization. So tying process directly to financial results is important but cannot be the only measure of success. I'd rather see that organizations focus on measures of success that blend in longer-term results, like long-term share price appreciation, or some way to measure agility (process excellence should result in agility, right?)

  • All processes should be able to be related back to the business, its goals, its needs, its priorities. All processes should be measured against how it helps the business in those areas. As such I would consider processes excellence to be any process that helps the business directly or indirectly achieve its goals. After all in the end as Faun said its about the customer.

  • "....to reach the unreachable star...." - Andy Williams
    "...the eternally unobtainable ideal..." - Rango

    Reading the answers here shows that we all think like consultants/ analysts/ vendors* (* delete as appropriate) but the fact is that as soon as you define something like "process excellence" you stop bothering because you believe you've achieved it. There is no one metric that describes it.

    Ian is almost there in that it is all about the customer outcome (or to be honest, just the outcome because "customer" conjours up a specific cross-section in people's minds and it narrows the mindset) but outcomes continually change as expectations evolve over time due to competition, technology changes, product revolution. And so the definition of excellence must change with it....so it can't be static.

    Profits are a poor way of measuring success, it just means you have an expensive service, doesn't mean how you do business is excellent.
    Goals and needs are another misleading example; my goal is to screw the customer by charging too much for a poor product because I need more cash flow to fund the next poorly designed service I have up my sleeve.....does that make my process excellent ? Only in my mind, not anyone else's.

    Excellence will take care of itself, concentrate on defining the process to the outcome.

  • In column 1 I would put the name of an activity and 1 column 2 the role for that step....

    ...oh...the question isn't 'how do you define a process in excell'

    No, absolutely agree with Theo. It might be a little idealistic but in the end only the customer of your process can tell you if it was excellent or not.

  • There is precious little objective measurement of excellence. You can do benchmarking, if it's feasible, using the metrics that exist there. Or use customer satisfaction measures, as mentioned a bit already.
    Outside of that, most references I see to process or operational excellence are empty slogans, similar to "world class." This reminds me of a graphic in an EXCELLENT humor book about the ocean. It shows a layer of the ocean described slogan-like as the "layer dedicated to excellence." Which says it all, really!

  • "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" -Oscar Wilde (though I admit I only know this quote because of the Pretenders song).

  • I got to the conversation late, and there've been so many good observations that I don't have much to add. If you define "excellence" in terms of some metrics, then your process (and, ideally, your BPM solution) has to be able to produce said metrics. That said, some really important outcomes—like employee engagement, which I've argued in the past is a valuable BPM-enhanced objective—are fairly hard to measure. But hey, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.

  • Following come to mind (and to large extent already covered in above comments -

    - user friendliness of the process and user friendliness of the process implementation
    - ease of use
    - (lesser) number of iterations or 'rejections' by downstream (which of course has a dependency on the definition of the right role, right data at right time with right person)
    - (minimize) waiting time thus eliminating waste

  • The only reason that it can be difficult to describe process excellence is when the reasons to have processes aren't clear. I guess that this is a larger reason for the problem.

    Yes, processes are about customer outcomes, but not only. They are too about strategic objectives and operational targets mapped to process goals. There are at least four dimension to process management, resembling remotely a Balanced Scorecard. The keyword here is balanced. Not all processes can be defined and measured the same way.

    Process excellence is empowerment for the business to ad-hoc perform a process that achieves the best balance in all four dimensions. It empowers both the performers and the customer to influence and immediately rate process outcomes. It empowers process owners and management to monitor and improve processes on-the-fly.

    So clearly, current BPM implementations with their humongous bureaucracy and analysis effort are far away from allowing process excellence. Standardized processes can't be excellent, they will always be mediocre in everything.

  • I would define it as an increase in my pay check for a job well done in making my company make profits.

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    OK , I think u guys are all right but to summarize all, it is about customers, what is confusing is that some have a kind of limited definition of customers, when we speak of customers, they can be internal as well as external , if this is true then process excellence is all about satisfying customers( both internal customers and external customers).talking about startegic objectives, it all aimes at bussiness prosperities and this can only take place when customers are satisfied.

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