Author: Samuel Muriithi
Put simply, a process refers to a series of steps that are followed so as to achieve or accomplish a given goal. You can develop a process for just about any task that has repetitive elements.
In particular, the consulting process can be defined as the series of phases over which a consulting service is provided to a client.
Before getting into more details about the consulting process, however, it’s important to know what it takes to develop a process.
Here are the steps to follow when you’re intent on developing one:
- Understand the reasons why you need to build the process
Having a process in place ensures that daily small gains achieved in several key areas will snowball and effectively contribute to your business’ long-term success. These areas are:
- The achievement of consistent quality results thanks to precision and consistency in task completion
- Increased time and money savings as tasks are efficiently completed
- Increased scalability as it becomes easier to onboard new employees
- Ensuring that operations will run smoothly in your absence thus freeing you up to focus on really growing the business
- Ensure that your proposed process has the following attributes…
In order to serve the purpose for which it is intended the new process will need to be:
- Finite – Your process will need a well-defined starting point, ending point, and finite number of steps
- Repeatable – There shouldn’t be a limit to the number of times it can be run
- Comprised of steps that all add value to the procedure
- Flexible – It should easily allow for the implementation of changes aimed at bringing improvements
- Understand what it takes to ensure that the new process will be effective
Several prerequisites must be satisfied in order for the effectiveness of your new process to be assured. It will need to be:
- Well documented
- Well aligned with your business vision and strategy
- Clear about general and role-specific business procedures
- A component of your staff training program. You’ll need to provide the staff with copies of the documented process in user-friendly formats
- Applied by management thereby encouraging other staff to embrace it
- Regularly discussed in meetings; positive and negative feedback should be addressed
- Flexible and open to improvement
- Empowering and informative rather than constraining
- Regularly reviewed and updated to ensure business compliance with industry changes
- Determine what category of process you’re developing
There are two types of process depending on the nature of your task:
A top/down process is developed when you have a higher level type of task. This type of process is typically general, flexible, and sparingly detailed in regards to the steps to be followed. Readers are simply pointed in the right direction.
A bottom/up process is on the other hand developed for lower level tasks. This type of process offers less flexibility, provides specific details for how a task must be completed, and is mainly used to help save time. Templates are a good example of these.
With the basics out of the way you can now proceed as follows:
- Create the process
You will now need to actually do the required task yourself. Note down all the steps you’ve followed and structure them into a high-level overview.
Next, address each of the steps in turn. For each step describe in a detailed manner everything you’ve done. To achieve optimal clarity you can, where applicable, use images, screenshots, videos and external resources.
- Test the process
This step will need you to carry out the task while strictly following the steps you’ve detailed; you should neither deviate from your list nor rely on your knowledge of the procedure.
Upon completion make edits to aspects of the process that need clarification.
Next, have someone else carry out the task using the freshly edited process. This person should also make comments on parts of the process that are unclear.
Assess the quality of work achieved using this draft process and based on your observations make even more edits.
- Implement the process
The process should now be ready for implementation. Everyone to be involved must be properly informed and trained for this. More edits can be made as necessary.
- Results monitoring, optimization, and process replication
Following successful implementation you should now review the process, analyze patterns, and document its history.
At this stage it’s preferable that any necessary edits are made by the actual users of the process as they’ll be more experienced with the process and more familiar with the task. A periodic review of the work achieved should be carried out to ensure that possible faults are not being overlooked.
After the process has proven to be capable of achieving the desired goals it can now be replicated for future processes.
- Automate the process (if applicable)
Depending on the nature of the process automation can be an option worth considering. There are lots of tools currently available and most are freely accessible and easy to use.
- Delegate process ownership
Now that the process is achieving desirable results you can comfortably delegate it to a team member, preferably the individual responsible for process execution.
It is this person who’ll then be responsible for the process’ upkeep tasks including ongoing updating and modifying.
In many cases, developing a process that works requires a considerable repeating and refining of the steps involved. Mastery of the process will therefore be achieved with the passage of time.
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