Let's start with the theory: What is a process landscape? Essentially, it is a model of the company, i.e. a simplified representation of reality. Accordingly, it does not include all the characteristics of the company. Instead, it focuses on the relevant aspects. Which aspects are relevant depends on three factors:
The goal: What is the process landscape used for?
A good process landscape fulfills two main goals:
- It has didactic value by illustrating the business model and the strategic relationships within the company.
- It serves as a navigation interface in the management system, enabling users to quickly and easily navigate from the individual processes to the level of work instructions, forms and knowledge pages.
The intended audience: Who is the process landscape directed to?
A management system should be a working aid for all employees - not only for Quality Management representatives, auditors and management. For this reason, the process landscape should make it easy for all users to get started with the management system.
The time factor: Does the process landscape represent the past, the present or the future?
Neither the past nor the future is relevant for the daily work of employees: What is needed here is up-to-date guidance. That is why the process landscape should represent the current state.
The practice: Building the process landscape the right way
How can all these aspects and goals be successfully combined in a process landscape?
1. Differentiate between management, core and support processes.
A proper division into the different types of processes is important. This way, you communicate both the overarching goal of the respective process and the corresponding "customer". After all, in addition to external customers, there are also internal customers. An example: the HR department only indirectly hires employees who make the end customer happy. First of all, it searches for new colleagues on behalf of the department in question - this department is the direct internal customer.
- Management processes describe the strategic orientation and control of the company. The employees are the internal customers of these processes.
- Core processes – also called value chain or end-to-end processes - map the processes for the realization of customer requirements. They thus serve the external end customers.
- Support processes are essential to the core processes but do not actively contribute to the value chain. The core processes are their internal customers.
2. Design a coherent core process chain.
Core processes have often grown like a patchwork rug over many years - there is no complete and coherent process chain. Yet it is important to have one in order to visualize the parallels and chronologies of the processes. After all, this is the only way to make interfaces between departments visible, which promotes interdepartmental thinking. Therefore, define a coherent core process chain: start with the customer request and end with the delivery of the desired service or product.
3. Map your business model.
When looking at the process landscape and especially the core process chain, it should immediately become clear how your company earns its money and how it is fundamentally oriented. Are you a manufacturer of individual products and do you develop each product according to customer requirements? Then you need to acquire customers first before you start with the development and production. Or are you a series manufacturer and produce on stock? Then you first produce a product and then sell it. If you provide different services, it is advisable to map several parallel core process chains. In retail companies, procurement is part of the core process chain; in a manufacturing company, it is a support process - adjust your process map accordingly.
4. Name processes by the actions behind them - not by departments.
It may seem obvious to name processes according to the various departments of a company. However, this promotes " silo thinking" in the individual departments, which should actually be broken down: If each organizational unit only optimizes its own sub-processes, but not the overall process across departments, the worst case scenario is that this has negative consequences for the entire company. The individual steps of the core process chain in particular should therefore be named with a subject and a verb: for example, "win customers" instead of "sales". In this way, both the overarching process goal and the entire group of recipients become clear. After all, convincing the customer often requires interaction between marketing, sales, production, and development.
5. Scale down the process landscape to a manageable number of elements.
Modell Aachen GmbH has conducted a study on the usability of process maps. The result: A manageable number of elements is crucial for user-friendliness. The limit is a maximum of six elements per category, i.e. six elements each for management processes, core processes and support processes. Although it is possible to display all special cases, service chains and interactions in the process landscape, this is not advisable in terms of usability.
6. Get feedback from your colleagues.
Many QM manuals are exclusively used as a basis for certifications. In such cases, usually only management, quality management and auditors use the process landscape. However, one goal of the management system is to create a working instrument for all employees. Therefore, ask all colleagues for their feedback in order to create a process landscape that is appropriate for the target group: Does everyone find their way around the process landscape?
7. Select the right model as the basis for your process landscape.
The Aachen Quality Management Model, pictured below, provides a clear and simple structure with a high recognition value, and has proven itself to be a strong basis for the process landscape. Many other models are less suitable due to their characteristics:
- The EFQM model provides excellent suggestions for the modern design of a company and thus also of a management system. However, since it is an assessment model, it is unsuitable as a structuring aid for the process.
- The SCOR model is a reference model from supply chain management and is basically suitable as a basis for the process landscape. However, its goal is to depict material flows - not workflows with a corresponding customer orientation.
- The St. Gallen management model represents the interrelationships within a company in interaction with external factors. It is therefore not suitable as a design basis for the process landscape.
- Standards are pure catalogs of criteria, not design models or structuring recommendations for management systems.
A solid process landscape is crucial
These 7 tips will help you visualize your company's recipe for success and at the same time create a clear guide for your management system - this is crucial for the acceptance of the system! In addition, both factors positively influence the processes in your company. All employees will be able to find the necessary knowledge quickly and easily in their daily work, and at the same time, interdepartmental connections will be clearly visible to everyone. In this way, you create the foundation for a collaborative optimization of your processes from A to Z, instead of having each department focus only on its own process steps.
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