Introduction – How to Create a Process Library
Businesses constantly map processes and create process documentation but often it ends up sitting on a shelf and collecting dust, never to be looked at again. In this blog we’ll show you how to create a process library so the next time someone wants to look at those processes they are fresh and up to date.
Processes are valuable assets that describe how a business works. To avoid endlessly wasting time and money redoing what has already been done, all businesses should have a live process library that’s easy to use and easy to access for everyone.
Why do you need a process library?
Consider why you need one – is it because the boss told you? Or because everyone else has one? Before you dive into creating your process library it’s important to put some thought into the benefits you want it to deliver.
Process libraries can be used to standardise your processes to improve quality, reduce waste and increase customer satisfaction. Alternatively you may have certain rules and regulations your company needs to follow or perhaps you are implementing a process improvement project and need a solid foundation to build on.
Whatever the reason, you need to know how to create a process library and make sure you can clearly describe it to everyone else in the business. You’re going to need their time and input so it’s important you can tell them why it’s valuable for them.
Which processes will you add to your process library?
When you understand why you’re creating a process library you should have a better idea of which processes to add. There are many different processes across all areas of a business so sometimes it can be a little daunting to get started.
The trick is to start making a list and then refine it. Firstly make note of the main processes in your business; the sales process, the marketing process, the delivery process, the development process, accounts payable and account receivable.
Then, if you’re a small to medium sized business, check out our Business on a Page template for the most common processes. If you’re a larger business you may find the APQC process classification framework useful. You can get a visual representation of it here.
These templates and frameworks are great starting points for you but remember that they’re generic. It’s important to take some time to think about how this fits with your business and feel free to add or take away the processes that make sense.
When you create the process library this list of processes will form the centre of it. It will change over time so it doesn’t need to be perfect to start with. In addition, it’s worth sharing with others in the business to get their view too.
Who owns these processes?
One of the most important things to get right when improving any process is to identify the right Process Owner. The Process Owner is the person responsible for the output of the process. In other words, if the process isn’t producing the right output, it’s the Process Owner you need to speak to, to find out why.
Let’s take an example; if the Sales process exists to deliver confirmed orders to the production team, then the Process Owner for the Sales process is the person ultimately responsible for making sure confirmed orders are there. This person is most likely to be whoever is responsible for sales, such as the Sales Director, Head of Sales or Chief Commercial Officer.
Therefore, the Process Owner is then also responsible for ensuring the process is continuously improved. This should help you identify the right person or role.
Another important factor to consider in how to create a process library is who will be responsible for gathering feedback and improvements to the process. You also need to decide who will make changes to the process documentation so that the processes in the process library stay up to date.
Do you already have a central team that manages this for all other teams? Or do you have a distributed approach where individuals in each of the departments are responsible for updating their own processes? You should consider that while the former is ideal for new teams starting out building a process library, as the initiative grows across the business, the distributed model will scale much better.
Create a plan
Once you know which processes you are going to start adding to the process library, in which order and who owns them, you can start creating a plan. Mapping processes can be time consuming so pick an approach and a software that will make it as easy as possible and everyone in the business is going to understand.
Skore is based on a simple 2 shape approach that’s quick to learn and easy for people to read. The software has an intuitive user interface designed to be used in meetings to capture processes while people discuss them. Check out the key features here.
Learn more about process mapping in our Process Mapping Guide >>.
Once you have chosen the right tools for the job you can work out how many workshops you’ll need to capture each process. Then you will need to work out who needs to take part. Identify stakeholders in each process, the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and people that actually do the process.
Once you have your plan you can start capturing processes and building your process library.
When learning how to create a process library you don’t necessarily need to identify measures. However, if you want your process library to be used and not left to gather dust then this is a key activity.
There are various things that can be measured. Look at how the Process Owner and their team are being measured. These are normally the Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. In our Sales process example this could include the number of confirmed orders, order value and order quality.
Improving a process should improve at least one of the KPIs for you to measure.
However, it’s also really important to know how closely the team follows the process that has been documented. This gives you more confidence that changing the process will have the desired effect. We call this type of measure a Process Performance Indicator (PPI). In this case you are looking at the process and ensuring the team are doing it as described.
In our example of the Sales process – it is key that the sales team capture all the necessary information from the client to accurately fulfil their order…
The fulfilment team have created an order form that includes all the necessary fields and this is referenced in the Sales process. In this case the team can measure how many times orders are delivered to the fulfilment team using the correct form instead of by email or phone.
PPIs are generally quite easy to identify and to measure. It’s good to keep them simple but also be aware that the team can quickly reach the desired target so it’s useful to think about changing them from time to time – this will also ensure that your Process Library stays up to date and relevant.
Monitor and Improve
With all your measures in place, KPIs and PPIs, you can start to monitor and improve the processes. Each team should be monitoring their own KPIs and when things aren’t going to plan, they should look at the process to see what can be improved.
You should also build a regular programme of process reviews. This involves asking the team what has worked well and what could be improved since the last review. The frequency of these meetings will depend on the team and process. For areas that change often then a weekly review may be appropriate. For other areas the process reviews might be monthly, quarterly or even every six months.
At the same time teams can suggest improvements at any time. These need to be captured, ideally using a tool, and then reviewed. When considering an improvement, think about which of the KPIs or PPIs it’s likely to impact and in what way. Then, once you make the improvement, you can monitor its effectiveness clearly.
Although mapping processes and creating documentation can be a time consuming exercise it’s often necessary as part of key projects in a business. The danger is that all the work to map the processes can go to waste if they are not maintained. Creating a process library is a great way to store and manage those processes thereby protecting a valuable asset for the business.
The key things to remember, when learning how to create a process library, are to:
- Keep things simple
- Choose a software that’s easy to use for everyone
- Identify the Process Owners
- Get people involved
- Measure the processes
Why not take a free trial of Skore to get started creating your own process library today?