Support Processes

What is a Support Process?

In our last blog, we discussed Core Processes that set of “to dos” that every business must have in order to function at a minimum level, such as a Business Plan. Support Processes are those that add value to the Core Processes beyond the bare minimum for example:

1. Stakeholder Consultation, where you consult with those who have a stake in the success of your business;
2. Project Management, where you are able to conduct time and resource limited tasks in support of your Business Plan;
3. Quality Management, where you ensure that your products and services are the best that they can be at all times;
4. Life Cycle Management, where you set up the means to create and deliver the products or services of your organization;
5. Business Development, where you establish the marketing and sales processes to ensure the success of your business in its selected market place;
6. Risk Management, where you ensure that you have taken into account all manner of risks to your enterprise;
7. Change Management, by which you watch for and select those changes that will keep your organization fresh and successful;
8. Process management, where you ensure that you have linked together all of your management processes.

These and others add considerable value to organizations, especially as they get larger and involve more people.

Where do the Support Processes come from?

Whereas Core Processes are pretty well universal, Support Processes are more unique to your particular organization. For example, an engineering firm will wish to have Project Management as one of its prime Support Processes; a public organization that issues information as its key service will not need to do projects. Such an organization may choose to place Program Management in its Support Processes because what the people of the organization do is continuous and ongoing. So, Support Processes are identified by some facilitated group work, where representatives from different parts of the organization come together and virtually “dump their processes on the table”. This simply means that everyone explains how they do things in support of the organization’s Business Plan and identifies the process that they are accountable for. This discussion is extremely productive, since it often highlights which of the Support Processes are working well, which need fixing and which need to be replaced with one that responds better to current realities.

Core Process

What is a Core Process?

A Core Process in any business consists of a set of “to dos” that every business must have. Whether you are a corner store or a large multi-national, you will need at a minimum:

1. A Strategic Plan, including a vision of the future of the business;

2. An Operational Plan, i.e. how the Business Strategy will get implemented;

3. A Human Resource Management Plan by which to manage your people;

4. A Financial Management Plan to handle budgeting and cash flow;

5. A Delivery Structure that sets out how products and services will be delivered;

6. Performance Management that tells you how well your business is doing; and

7.  An overall Business Plan that integrates all of the elements of your business

What is involved in setting up the Core Processes?

Core Processes may be simple or more complex, depending on the nature and size of your business, but they definitely need to be there. As a matter of hard fact, banking institutions will demand a Business Case of you that will contain the Core Processes before they will extend any kind of financing to a business. However, bank financing is not the only reason for paying attention to the Core Processes: it simply makes good sense to answer some simple questions (and write down the responses):

1. Where you are going as a business?

2. How are you going to get there?

3. Who is going to be involved?

4. How will they be organized?

5. Where the money will come from?

6. How you are performing as a business?

7. How does the whole plan for the business come together for success?

From the general to the specific

As you parse out the Core Processes for your business, you will realize that this is way of thinking that goes from the general, i.e. your vision and mission as a business, all the way to the very specific, dealing with human and financial resources. The goal of working out the Core Processes is to create a meaningful and realistic picture of the business, so that everyone in the organization knows where they fit and what to do.

Often, in larger organizations, there is an entire Business Planning process that involves consultation with managers and staff on the elements of the Core Processes. In smaller businesses, it’s a coffee cup meeting, where the principals sit with each other and work out the details of how their store will run.

Measurement, the key to success

When we speak of performance management, we are dealing with two connected elements: the performance of people and the performance of the entire organization. These are linked through measurement, which is why you often hear the term

“performance measures” or “performance indicators”, used in management. This is sometimes scary for people, who think that they are going to be “measured” and perhaps found lacking. Measurement is simply the way that the organization can figure out how well people are working individually and how well the business is doing collectively. For people, it’s a matter of setting goals and checking in on their accomplishment; for the organization, it’s setting up whatever measures are needed to
find out if the business is successful. Both sets of checks are aimed at improvement, so that people can work better, keep their jobs and the organization can survive in the market place it has chosen to be a part of. So, measuring performance is one of the essentials when it comes to the Core Processes.

Three Key Success Factors in Engaging with RANA

The RANA Process Intervention Methodology

The RANA process Intervention Methodology is the starting point for all RANA client engagements. It is the cornerstone of the vast amount of research undertaken by RANA in the area of Process Design and Process Improvement. The methodology is a simple and clear set of steps for identifying the nature of the issues facing our clients and provides a clear roadmap for the most appropriate techniques to apply in every situation

RANA’s Breadth of Knowledge and Past Experience

RANA has extensive experience and knowledge in specific process intensive areas such as Business Planning, Safety Management Systems, Enterprise Risk Management and other such areas, where specialized process expertise is necessary for the benefit of our clients.

RANA’s Relationship Management

RANA responds quickly to the need for clients suffering from organizational pain. We stay in touch with clients to help them along the way. Trust in veteran RANA Affiliates creates a bond with clients both at the professional and personal levels. RANA gravitates naturally to clients who share similar levels of professionalism and share similar values and standards of work.

The Core Competency of an Organization

What is a Core Competency?

The Core Competency of an organization is that single, unique activity that defines it. It takes the form of very few words, such as: “At Molson’s, we make beer”. For the good folks at RANA, we define our core competency as “Process Intervention”, which means that we help organizations with the business transformation that they wish to achieve.

Why should you have a Core Competency?

Every organization needs to focus on the single thing that it does well and avoid getting distracted by activity that is off-side. A focus on the organization’s Core Competency allows its people to concentrate on what is the most important: the delivery of the organization’s key product or service. Some organizations have diversified to the point of not having the necessary skills or experience to do a good job in the new field of endeavour; this has meant inevitable failure and in most cases a huge financial loss.

What about Vertical Integration?

Vertical Integration takes place when an organization takes a basic product and develops it by filling in the input and/or the output end of its production. For example, a farm may produce milk and in order to maximize profit, may decide to grow grain to feed the milk cattle and install a yogurt production facility to make use of the primary product. Vertical Integration is compatible with a Core Competency focus, because it actually highlights the key product of the farm, which is milk. The farm now owns both the supply and distribution of its product.

And what about Value Adding?

Value adding is somewhat similar to Vertical Integration and it means the enhancement a business gives its product or service before offering it to its customers. So, one might argue that the current trend for large distribution or “box” stores to sell a greater range of products and services is value adding. For example, automobile dealerships commonly offer value-added products and services such as service contracts and extended warranties or again, vehicle accessories or engine enhancements.

What happens when you lose your Core Competency?

An organization needs to be very careful in how much it vertically integrates or adds values to its products and services so that it doesn’t dilute its Core Competency. Many organizations whose senior executives got afflicted by the mergers and acquisitions virus discovered that not all value adding, or what they thought was value adding, contributed to the bottom line. In fact, some of their organizations suffered spectacular failures. The understanding of the Core Competency of the organization and how to add value to it effectively needs to be a fundamental conversation at the Executive Level of the organization as part of the (at least) annual refit of the Business Plan, supported by factual evidence from a thorough environmental scan of the fiscal environment.

Cameron Fraser

Cameron Fraser facilitates group work in the short term, and acts as a Process Consultant on longer term Organization Development and Change Management efforts focused on corporate culture.

For Cameron it’s about results. By providing clear and proven thinking tools, incorporating both the intuitive and rational, he has improved the quality of decision making in organizations. He works with the processes surrounding decisions; sorting issues, determining causes of problems, and the planning, both strategic and operational, necessary to implement well made decisions.

In addition to delivering process consulting services Cameron designs, develops, and delivers training to help ensure the sustainability of results beyond his involvement.

Cameron approaches this work based on the belief that all organizations have the knowledge and skills required for success, but often have difficulties (often driven by operational pressures) accessing, assembling, and understanding all of their capacity.

He also works in a range of organizations, including government, manufacturing, mining, and health care. In addition to a full range of facilitated services he has a particular focus on Risk Assessment and Risk Based Decision Making, with experience in the aerospace industry and with regulators. Regardless of industry, examining risk means working in grey areas. There is not a single correct answer to any given situation. No decision around risk (perhaps no decision of any kind) is completely objective. Cameron specializes in facilitating processes that help groups be as objective, and effective, as possible.