We routinely encounter the challenge of ensuring all stakeholders understand the concept of ‘process’ in the same way. When we have asked the question “how many processes do you have?” the answer (unsurprisingly) is varied, but usually includes some form of qualification. “It depends; what do you mean by a process” is the commonest reply, and so the loop goes nowhere fast.
Here’s an example. The Finance Director may regard ‘Accounts Payable’ as a process (they’d be right). The AP Officer may regard ‘Receiving and Coding a Supplier Invoice’ as a process (they’d be equally right). The question is; how to standardise the definition of ‘a process’?
What is really needed is a common language of process, to allow all stakeholders to have the same discussion at the same time.
The Process Inventory standardises the identification, naming and classification of business processes in a simple yet universal way, which facilitates the mapping and analysis in subsequent project phases.
Supervisors, Team Leaders and Middle Managers who are routinely involved in the current processes, are the best people to identify the processes. The purpose of the Process Inventory is simply to;
- Identify the processes known to / likely to exist (naming and sequencing them), including;
- Defining a one-line purpose statement, including start and end points of the process,
- Defining the organisational positions involved (with names of key people),
- Identifying any key I/T systems in the process.
- Establish a common language of process, to enable understanding when the organisation refers to ‘a process’.
The Process Inventory is diagrammatically represented as follows;
In summary, the Process Inventory is a +/- 15 to 20 page key reference document framing the scope of the project, establishing a ‘common process vocabulary’ (and thus overall clarity), and identifying and noting the priority processes for immediate analysis and potential improvement.
It’s a vital way to start a Process Mapping or a Process Improvement project; we’d recommend never leaving home without it.