The theme this month on the Risk Alternatives blog is the importance of process. We will emphasize one process above others: the Risk Cycle, the repeating steps a nonprofit, startup, or small business takes in order to implement a risk management process. More broadly, however, we will explore the numerous benefits of identifying, following, and improving processes in every aspect of an organization.
A process is simply a series of steps performed in order to accomplish some outcome. An organization may have hundreds of processes or only a few. Processes may be express or implicit. They can be simple or complex. Regardless of such variables, organizations gain numerous benefits from identifying and improving their processes.
Visualization. Identifying processes allows an organization to begin visualizing the range of activities from beginning to end, helping employees discern what steps are necessary and who needs what along the way.
Benchmarks. Until a process is identified and documented, your team has no clear basis for determining whether they are meeting requirements.
Stability, regularity, and uniformity. Once you identify your processes, you can begin stabilizing the steps, bringing greater regularity and uniformity.
Scalability. As you articulate your processes, you describe inputs and outputs. By identifying inputs, you understand what is needed to scale a process upward or downward in response to changes in demand.
Simplicity in execution and recall. Identifying and beginning to document your processes allows employees to more easily recall the steps required, making processes simpler to execute.
Basis for improvement. Identifying and stabilizing your processes creates a baseline for modification and improvement. When a process is ad hoc, it is much harder to determine where bottlenecks arise and how modifications in method could increase effectiveness. Once a process is identified and stabilized, however, your team can begin to experiment with an eye toward best practices.