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Investigating Process Management in Firms with Quality Systems - A Multi-Case Study

Investigating Process Management in Firms with Quality Systems – A Multi-Case Study

Executive Summary

This paper investigates whether investing in quality systems can result in process management. The paper discusses four dimensions of process management, process measurement, process awareness, process ownership and process improvements. In their findings, the article authors reported that business executives are less concerned with their organization’s business processes on a daily basis as important process goals are seldom set and measured, accountability is not institutionalized, and improvement practice is rarely implemented. Consequently, the authors tended to suggest that most organizational executives perceive quality system management as dictatorial, imposed on them, rather than a useful resource for developing and managing their companies.

Introduction

Executives in most organizations throughout the world have identified business process management as an important business priority. Extant literature suggests that many organizations highly regard process management to be important for the growth and development of their organizations (Jeston, 2008). Further, many business organizations use process-oriented transformation for organizational improvement. However, only a few organizations can integrate some business function to form end-to-end organization process, and obtain the efficacy with process-based activities (Jeston, 2008). To delve further into process management in firms, this essay uses a multi-case study to discuss the success and ineffectiveness of business process which is also known as “a sequence of activities” in many organizations.

Key Learning Points in the Reading

There are four key learning points in this reading; the first point is that organizations apply quality control to manage operation performance and to ensure that the organization produces the best products or services “with business objectives for the delight of customers” (Melenovsky & Sinur, 2006). Consequently, the reading illustrates that putting in place a quality control system requires a considerable amount of money in order to fulfill external requirements that are sometimes a prerequisite for doing business (Melenovsky & Sinur, 2006). However, there is no evidence to show the existence of a relationship between quality systems in place and a firm’s performance.

The second learning point is the efficient business process management; this learning point entails documentation, naming and identification of the processes. Hence, members of process-managed organizations are expected to focus on task accomplishment, a performance of activities, and contribution of different units to solving a particular task. However, documents alone are insufficient to meet the standard of process awareness that might make all employees have a thorough understanding of the process from the start to its end (Garrtson & Harmon, 2005).

Apart from process awareness, each process of a business is required to have its owner who is charged with outcomes of that process and performance. The process owner is responsible for an entire value chain from the beginning to the end. In addition, they ensure that processes are adequately designed. Process management implies that the firm, grounding on fact-based information about performance, results, and relevance changes and improves its processes on an ongoing basis (Rosemann et al., 2006). The other criterion that a business process should have is explicit goals for results and performance including efficiency, effectiveness, and adaptability. Firms should collect relevant data which concerns the process’ objectives including the information of the competitors’ activities, their competitiveness, innovations in information technologies, and the current and future requirements of customers (Spanyi, 2006). Concisely, process management means that targets are set for each process and that targets met are carefully measured.

The fourth learning point for process management entails continuous improvements and perfection of the process. The improvement accountability in this process depends on a process manager or owner. The efforts for improvements should base on information about results, performance, and relevance. Such information is what would be used to make minor adjustments to the existing design or complete overhaul if major changes are required.  Companies should continuously evaluate performance and relevance of data and intensify process improvement efforts when it is necessary (Beckford, 2010).

Reasons for Ineffectiveness of Business Process Management

The aim of creating a process management in an organization is to deliver value to customers or “to demonstrate the ability to provide products that fulfill customers”. Additionally, executives engage in making an organizational chart, a process map, its structure and its contents. However, the business process management fails in many organizations because executives minimize the resources spent on this project, and thus, leave the process managers and their staff to perform the job themselves. Furthermore, executives and employees are most often less concerned with the processes they follow on a daily basis, leaving the process to crumble (Kung & Hagen, 2007).

Even though several firms have their business processes in place, many are ineffective. This is because those who are in charge of business processes possess dual responsibilities for a function and process simultaneously, hence, process managers largely ignore or give little attention to their processes due to the workload as function managers (Hammer, 2007). Moreover, many companies do not consider process management as an essential management part, explaining why the process haas not led to process ownership, even though firms invest in quality systems.

With regards to continuous process improvements, only a few firms in the food and beverage industry are in constant monitoring of quality metrics. For firms in these industries, continuous process improvements are an ongoing activity, though executives are less involved unless there is a small problem.  The best process management effort that should be made in all organizations is reporting information to management at standard intervals when some problems are to discuss if changes are needed (Jeston & Nelis, 2006). However, not all executives have been fully involved in process improvement, making the process ineffective in many organizations even after investing in it.

Application

Business management is an important organization unit that needs to be properly managed. It is a process that helps organizations modify their best practice in order to stay abreast with changing conditions in the market. For it to work smoothly in modern business the executives and process managers must be entirely engaged in the process management. They should be made to feel that they own the process by highlighting its importance. In addition, process managers should not be given any other functional responsibilities that may make them discount their process management responsibility (Smith & Fingar, 2003).

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Lessons Leant

This reading reveals that many companies invest in quality systems but neglect process management.  It explains a reason why quality systems have not lead to process ownership, process awareness, process measurement, and process improvements. The failure of executives and process managers to recognize business process as a beneficial unit to the organization has lead to ‘failure of management’. Furthermore, there has been a perspective that process managers and executives tend to behave like the system is ‘forced on them’ by external organizations (Spanyi, 2006). This serves as a lesson for system implementers and gives them a reason to involve all stakeholders in business process management.

Conclusion

It is eminent that even if a firm invested in a quality system, it would not immediately perform the process management. It requires the involvement of top management or the executives to ensure process awareness, process measurement, process ownership, and process improvements. Additionally, most of the management processes fail because the management principles are not compatible with a position practice. For the business process management to develop in an organization, there should be a team work, the implementation team, and direct incorporation both managers and executives. Companies should create a suitable environment for all participants to equally cooperate in attaining the organizational process management goals.

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