The Process Improvement Tips from the Trenches blog series shares process improvement tips, tricks and recommendations from process management professionals around the world. This week's expert is Sara Downes of Mackay Regional Council.
Sara Downes is the Process Governance officer for Mackay Regional Council and is leading the organization’s implementation of business process management (BPM). Sara provides expert training and guidance in BPM, helping Council’s programs to embrace a unified, resilient and transparent process improvement culture.
Mackay Regional Council face the challenge of keeping 1,100 employees engaged across 32 programs, as well as maintaining a 7,622km squared area, 2,501km of roads, 1,655 water mains and 1,500 hectares of parkland in Northern Queensland.
In this webinar recording, I share how Mackay Regional Council drives process ownership and engagement.
Why is process important to your organization?
Mackay Regional Council is a large-scale operation. With increasing scale and complexity, we realised we’d need to find better ways for our teams to work together.
It’s fair to say our world before Promapp looked like a bit of a free-for-all. Processes were mapped as-and-when we needed them and there wasn’t much planning involved. Processes were often saved as work instructions in various locations using Visio and Word documents, and they were difficult for everyone to access because they weren’t in a centralized location. No one had ownership of them, and they were never reviewed or updated.
Visio isn’t that user-friendly, nor is it simple enough to make our processes easy to understand. In fact, we didn’t have any process maps, and instead had documented lists of work instructions instead.
The top three things we wanted to achieve with our process management efforts was to:
- House our processes in a centralised location
- Encourage the ongoing, consistent mapping of processes by our people
- Capture a picture of the wide variety of services we offer and how they impact one another.
What’s your biggest process management challenge?
Our biggest challenge was maintaining the engagement of our people. We started with a pilot group, which included getting people trained and actually using Promapp
This helped us to gain momentum quite quickly, but maintaining it was harder because people still had their normal jobs to do. We adapted our approach to suit their situation, and to support the team with their additional responsibilities.
There certainly wasn’t a one-method-fits all solution – we’ve had to work with the teams to see what was most effective for each of them.
What works well at your company?
The benefits we experienced once we became more focused on business process management have included:
- A simplified version of our processes
- An intuitive way to capture and follow processes, which supports change management
- Buy-in from our people who now understand what happens, and when
- An appetite for process mapping amongst our teams
- Process champions who constantly look for opportunities for improvement.
What’s the most unusual approach to process improvement you’ve tried?
We identified one of our key challenge was to gain a better understanding of what the council offers to clients. To achieve that we repeatedly asked ourselves ‘what we do and why’, and used that as our starting point.
Also, to avoid change fatigue we paid special attention to how we rolled out our process management efforts. We asked people to capture their processes as-is, and to focus on improving them afterwards. This resulted in people taking ownership and being really enthusiastic about process improvements – now they approach us to participate in process management projects!
What’s your top Tip from the Trenches, a process improvement recommendation for other organizations?
When it comes to keeping your people onside, we found it helpful to action these 9 things:
- Implement a process governance forum to support our teams
- Send regular email updates
- Make BPM-related content available on our corporate information site
- Involve our process champion in decision-making about our process management initiatives, and in training other teams
- Recognise achievements and show appreciation for the process efforts of our people
- Monitor progress to see how far we’ve come
- Put achievable goals in place
- Be transparent – there are no restrictions on access to the system and on who can see information
- Keep communication channels open and empower teams to share information.
Watch my webinar for tips on how Mackay Regional Council drives process ownership and engagement.