Four Key Elements of a Process Initiative

No two process implementation initiatives are the same. It varies in scope, objectives and limitations because of budget, time, resources, and complexities. Although process initiative projects may vary, there are four key elements which assure good results. These four critical items are: (1) Process Definition, (2) Process and Activity Roles, (3) Available Tools and (4) Training.

Plain and simple reality- these elements are inseparably linked. The absence of one element will hugely affect the result of the process initiative. On the contrary, if the factors all are well attended to, you can expect excellent results.             

Many process initiatives fail because:

• Processes are not well designed and documented. People in operations were not involved in the design process.
• Processes are well defined but roles are not clearly assigned in the organization as to who is responsible and / or accountable for a certain process.
• In some instances, limitations in the tool or lack thereof make the organization resort to workaround and this is time-consuming and costly.
• All systems go but people are not well trained, resulting to inconsistency in process execution

To give a more tangible example, let’s say that you are implementing a logistics dispatch system. You have selected the platform and made sure that it is customized based on the needs of the operation. During the process design, different levels of the organization were involved and consulted. You came up with a clear and concise documentation of the processes and roles that will perform the activities. Roles are defined, assigned to personnel in the organization and was clearly communicated. System procedures and policies are in place.

Then you and your team decided to forego the well planned training program that you have scheduled to speed up the rollout of the initiative and reduce travel costs for people who will need to come from different dispatch locations. You are comfortable with the training manuals and the quick guides. Communication is already done and the operational support structure is in place.

Your decision to forego one key process initiative element will result to the following possible outcomes:

• Dispatch process will be executed inconsistently depending on the user’s personal understanding of the manuals and materials.
• You can be flooded with manual errors due to the user’s unfamiliarity of the system.  This results to spending more time in correcting and stabilizing these errors.
• You risk affecting customer service delivery because of probable incidents like wrong orders and delayed deliveries

The project team in the example above seemed to have done everything correctly.  However, they made one crucial and costly mistake.  User training, as with the other elements, is equally important.  Neglecting one of the key elements could result in project failure.

This does not mean to say, that the project team must focus solely on these four key elements. These cannot substitute existing important process and project implementation methodologies and practices. These key elements are only intended to complement whatever process implementation methodology you follow.

Process Elements

8 thoughts on “Four Key Elements of a Process Initiative

  1. Thanks very much, it was a great article, really enjoyed it, can I please have the definitions of the four key elements please?

  2. Thanks Jorge for the good comments.

    Would you believe I wrote this specific article 2 years ago? It’s from my experiences in the projects that I have been involved in Asia and Europe. By the way, I recommended a book in my last post.


  3. Glenn,

    Good article, I really enjoyed reading about it. By reading it I could tell that you are incorporating the theory with your own experience. That is what makes the difference in writing or bringing more value to the table.

    I believe that you can write a whole book about “Process initiatives” since as you said before all of them are always different or never the same… In other words each process initiative offers a great opportunity to apply what has been learned from previous experiences and also to learn why some things did not work as they were supposed to.

    Hopefully you can write more on this topic in the future and how to tackle some of the issues that could make a process initiative fail, such as definition of roles, accountability, training and tool limitations.

    It will also be interesting if you could quote some of the guru’s on the topic and some further reading that could be helpful for your readers.


    Jorge Flores

  4. Dude,

    Welcome to WordPress! I told you that you´ll like it 😉

    Cool article btw! Here´s my one cent opinion on this subject.

    I think that “Process Initiative” on it´s own can not hold water. Why? Let us disect the real meaning of a process. It is a common notion to view a process as a natural flow of things with a repetetive and a common expected result. Like life itself, to be born and to die is a process — as they say, everything that has a beginning has an end (this is a hard declaration of a process). But, as we became smarter (or at least try to become or pretend to) we oftentimes find ways to box processes, afterall we work for IT and we think that we can program everything. To my mind, this is the other facet of a process — but a forced one.

    “Process Initiative” in a less polite way of putting it is, “forcing a change”. By definition, an “initiative” is the the ability to begin and follow through a plan or a task, the willingness to take the first step, or the act of taking the lead. Hence, “Process Initiative” is forcing a new way of doing things in a systematic manner (i.e. the steps and ingredients you just mentioned). This may however not guarantee a desired result. Why? Well, I guess it´s because of nature and human behaviour, as we can only predict them but can never really forecast the outcome 100% of the time. However, when we reach the point in the evolution of the earth´s climate leading to an irreversible change, now this is called “the tipping point”. Tipping point by itself is another blog that you can probably write about, hahahaha! When you learn how to trigger a “tipping-point”, you will never have to worry about “process initiative” — as we realize time and again that anything that has a beginning (i.e. process initiative) has an end (i.e. tipping point), and anything that has a (temporary) end (i.e. perceived stable state) has a new beginning (i.e. the whole process initiative to tipping point 2 ad infinitum).


  5. in da pilipins, it is better to sweep everything ander the rug. or sala set if you will :). kasi there really is no existing cultural process initiative among filipinos. but that can’t stop us from dreaming of bigger things pare. great article pre keep it up and let’s hope it reaches the right readers 🙂

  6. Very good article, you should continue writing. I agree it is imperative that roles and process responsibility is clearly defined per person. And it is equally important that trainings are provided not just to leading persons but end users as well.

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