Process Management

What is process management?

Process management is all about creating repeatable experiences to get the right people in the right place to get things done.

Creating an efficient process typically has the following benefits:

  • Reduces error when errors can be expensive

  • Simplifies complex workflows

  • Improves maintainability of a system or service

  • Saves time

Technical program managers typically don't design processes for an entire organization or company, but rather for the program specifically.

You will also participate in company-wide processes by driving your program through typical planning processes across the company.

Effective process management

Creating a process for the sake of creating a process is a failure in process management.

Truly effective process management is focused on solving problems. Specifically, process management solves the problems around how we do things.

You've already done a significant amount of process management throughout this course. Think about these areas of the TPM craft:

  • Program initiation

  • Risk and issue management

  • Communication management

  • Decision-making

Each of these areas contains many processes with a desired outcome or output to ensure program success. They are aimed at solving specific problems that the program might otherwise run into.

Scalable processes

Scalable processes are processes that can adapt and handle an increase in workload or complexity. What does a scalable process look like though? There are some common characteristics you should aim for when creating a scalable process:

  • Flexibility: Scalable processes are flexible and can be easily adapted to changing circumstances or requirements.

  • Modularity: Scalable processes are modular, meaning they are composed of smaller, independent components that can be combined to handle different workloads or levels of complexity.

  • Automation: Scalable processes rely on automation to handle increasing workloads or complexity. Automation can help reduce the need for human intervention and minimize errors.

  • Standardization: Scalable processes are standardized, meaning they follow a set of established rules and procedures. This makes it easier to repeat and improve the process, and helps to ensure consistency in the output.

Not all of these characteristics are necessary for all processes, but a scalable process will usually include at least one of these characteristics.

Creating a process

If you find yourself or program team members repeatedly doing a task that consumes immense amounts of time, then you know a scalable process is needed.

  • Identify pain points: The first step in creating a good scalable process is to identify the pain points or activities that need to be managed better. This includes identifying bottlenecks, redundancies, and inefficiencies in the process.

  • Inputs and outputs: Understand the inputs, outputs, and steps involved in the process.

  • Design and optimize: Once you know the pain points, inputs, outputs, and steps for the current process, you can begin designing and optimizing.

  • Document: It's important to use tools like flowcharts or process maps to drive clarity and alignment on the process.

  • Monitor and improve: After the process is designed, it should be continuously monitored to make sure it is working as intended. This includes measuring performance and identifying opportunities for improvement.

Do things that don't scale

This advice seems counterintuitive, doesn't it?

We don't want to apply this logic to everything. That would be a mistake. But here's what we mean when we say "do things that don't scale."

There are two main scenarios where designing a process will hurt more than help:

  1. Urgent program needs: There are often urgent needs that your program will have. Something needs to get done quickly. People need to be notified on short notice. Trying to design a process for a one-time, urgent need will hurt you more than help you.

  2. Building a relationship: There is no shortcut to building relationships. Sure, you can set up a system for yourself to get to know people. But scaling a process to build relationships may come off as inauthentic.

Be cautious about implementing too many processes. A program with tons of customized processes are often considered heavy and you'll find that process begins to get in the way of progress.

Continual improvement

It is easy for a process to become stagnant.

This means that the process does not adapt to new circumstances and fails to add value to the teams it is supposed to serve.

As you lead your program to success, it is important to carve out space and time to examine your program processes and improve them.

This is typically done through some type of program retrospective.

Program retrospective

A program retrospective is a meeting where team members come together to review the progress of a program and identify areas for improvement. The goal of a retrospective is to identify what went well, what didn't go well, and what can be improved upon for future programs. By running an effective retrospective, you can improve processes, increase efficiency, and enhance team morale.

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