Chapter 2

Defining and Evaluating Processes

In This Chapter

arrow Illustrating processes using process maps

arrow Employing various metrics to measure a system’s performance

A company with well-designed and perfectly functioning processes has a decisive advantage over its competitors, primarily because it uses resources to generate profits and doesn’t waste them. And the job of ensuring that a company’s processes are profitable belongs to — you guessed it — the operations manager.

Technically speaking, a process is a collection of operations that are connected by the movement of goods and information that transform various inputs into useful — and often consistent — outputs. In other words, a process is any series of actions that a company repeats over and over, ideally with the same result(s).

How well a business performs processes matters. Not much harm is done if a firm isn’t effective at completing a one-time, isolated process, but inefficiencies affecting ongoing critical tasks usually add up to big problems (financial and organizational) over the long run.

The first step toward meaningful process improvements is finding out what’s working and what’s not. Unfortunately, few firms make the effort to even document their existing processes — let alone measure their performance! So initiatives ...

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