Processes and Procedures in IT Companies
At atSistemas we have established a few concepts about the world of Processes, which have some particularities of IT services companies and which we will be publishing internally to align, and then simplify, the way we do most of our work.
Why do we want to do Process Management? Companies, or organisations, are only as efficient as their processes and have become aware of the problem of departmental orientations with their niches of power and their excessive resistance to change.
This means that in a process-oriented company:
- All activities are subordinated to the process.
- Management and improvement activities are carried out in teams.
- The result of a team is greater than the sum of individual efforts.
- All personnel are oriented towards the customer of the process.
- Suppliers and customers are incorporated into the process.
At atSistemas we have defined a Quality Management System that is ISO 9001 certified and that will now help us to obtain these definitions.
The ISO 9001:2015 standard defines the concept of Business Process as a “sequence of activities with an order of completion over time, which converts given inputs into an output”.
Business Processes are modelled in the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) standard reflecting:
- the start of the process.
- the responsibilities of the activities.
- the sequence flows with all possible paths (to collect all exceptions via decision points).
- the activities to be performed.
- the roles that execute each activity.
- the events occurring in the process.
- and the completion (one or more end events) of the process.
Processes can be:
- Operational (customer-oriented) processes:
- Those that directly serve the needs of the external customer (e.g.: opportunity and quotation management process).
- Support processes:
- They will allow the other processes of the company to function properly (e.g.: training, occupational risk prevention, payroll, IT equipment support, etc.).
- They ensure the achievement of results and are aimed at defining and controlling the company’s goals, policies and strategies (e.g. Goal Setting, Internal Audits, Customer Satisfaction, etc.).
There is a particular and especially important Process in companies which is the Strategic Planning process and consists of the activities necessary to adapt the company to its business environment.
Procedures and Technical Instructions
Process should not be confused with Procedure, which is: “the specific way of carrying out a process”. In other words, when you have a process that has to happen in a specific way, and you specify how it happens, you have a procedure. The procedure is mandatory and is necessary to develop any Quality Management System. It should be taken into account that not all processes need to have a procedure, and that the same process can have one or several procedures associated with it. Procedures are used for those activities in which several operations are linked and different people or departments of the company are involved.
Work Instructions are documents that “describe in a clear and precise manner the correct way to perform certain tasks that may cause inconvenience or damage if not carried out in the established manner”. For example, the document from the financial area that describes the supporting documentation of the expense to be submitted by the employee in his expense note and the steps to be taken to submit his monthly expenses: this work instruction would be linked to the “Submit Expense Note” activity.
Work instructions are mainly focused on explaining how a specific activity is to be performed, and are mandatory. Work instructions are used to describe a specific operation, usually associated with a work station. If there is a caveat that they are not mandatory, we would be talking about a Work Guide.
An indicator is an information support that represents a magnitude and that allows us to collect, in an adequate and representative way, the relevant information regarding the results of the process, so that the capacity and efficiency of the process can be determined.
A good indicator must:
- Allow to know the result of the Process.
- Help to locate problems.
- Be an alarm signal in the event of deviations.
- Facilitate the location of improvement actions…
The owner is always a position in the organisation (occupied at any given time by a single person) and must meet the following requirements:
- Leadership and teamwork skills.
- Management of the resources invested in the process/procedure.
- Knowledge of the process/procedure of which he/she is the owner.
- Knowledge of the company in general.
- Ability to drive the necessary change to implement the process/procedure in question.
Amongst their functions we can list the following:
- Understand and participate in the design of the process to achieve the business objectives.
- Establish measures to control the process and establish opportunities for improvement.
- Providing staff with the information, tools and systems to achieve the objectives.
- Manage the interfaces of the process (relationships with other departments).
- Review process performance and undertake improvement projects.