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Process Consultation

Process consulting requires the OD Practitioner to analyze a business and figures out strategies for improving its day-to-day operations and overall functioning. Succeeding in this diagnostic usually requires an individual who is adept at problem solving, is creative and has excellent interpersonal skills. Some common responsibilities of this job include observing business operations, identifying problem areas, developing practical solutions, executing changes and assisting employees throughout the process.  The process consulting process involves the practitioner meeting the members of the department and work teams observing the interaction, problem identification skills, solving procedures et. He feeds back the team with the information collected through observations, coaches and counsels individuals & groups in moulding their behaviour.

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Before improvements can begin, it’s important for a OD Practitioner to first observe a business’s operations. This practice typically involves things like monitoring employee performance, investigating organizational habits and determining overall efficiency. In addition, an individual might get feedback from both employees and supervisors to get a feel for a business.

After a period of observation, the OD practitioner will need to  identify the primary problem areas of a business. For example, he might decide that a company’s warehouse is disorganized, and that getting products from shelves is unnecessarily difficult. In another instance, he might discover that ineffective employee scheduling is hurting a company’s production. Being effective at this job requires a person to find specific flaws and take note of them.

Process identification. Many companies think they know their processes — manufacturing, sales, accounting, building services. But it is just this silo mentality that causes processes to lose their customer-centric approach. Instead of defining processes based on the company’s understanding, they must be defined by the customer’s understanding. Walking through customer experiences helps the reviewer identify those trigger points that can make or break success. These then form the basis for process identification.

Information gathering. There is a large volume of information that should be obtained before trying to learn the intricacies of a process. Primary among these is identifying who the true process owners are — the ones who can effect change. Their buy-in and agreement throughout the analysis is paramount. Additional information that should be obtained includes the objectives of the process, risks to the process, key controls over those risks, and measures of success for the process.

Process Mapping. This involves sitting with each employee and having him or her describe what it is they do. This information is recorded using a sticky-note method. Each step in the process is recorded on a sticky-note and built in front of the individual completing the work. This allows them to interactively ensure the final map matches their understanding of their work. The final process maps are developed using flowcharting software. Time flows down the page, and each individual involved is represented by a separate column. In this manner, a simple map can result from a complicated process.

Analysis.  Analysis must really occur throughout the review. While defining the processes, the reviewer may determine that objectives are not in line with the processes in place. In gathering information, it may become apparent that measures of success do not correspond to department objectives. These are just some of the examples of ongoing analysis.

However, there are some specific examples of analysis that can be completed once maps are done. These include identifying unnecessary approvals, isolating rework, removing duplicate forms, eliminating useless holdfiles, and investigating decision requirements that lead to no discernable result. In and of themselves, no single incident is necessarily wrong. But each must be analyzed in the context of the map to ensure it supports the objectives.  When done correctly, Business Process Mapping should lead everyone to a better understanding of what the company is trying to achieve, a realigned sense of purpose, and a number of suggestions that can streamline operations while increasing customer satisfaction.