Standardisation and Documentation of Processes

What is Standardisation of Processes? What is Process Standardisation?

Standardisation is making things uniform or of the same standards. When we say standardisation of processes in business, it is ensuring that the same business process is carried out in the same way every time. For example, the process to handle different types of customer grievances in the different branches of a retail supermarket brand would be the same. No matter how it is defined, the essence of process standardisation is process duplication. How you do something is replicated again and again until there is a planned change in it. Process standardisation has helped innumerable brands in achieving uniformity in the quality of their products and services delivered across the world.

Paybacks of Process Standardisation

Consistency in performance has deep connections to developing customer loyalty. If your customers want XYZ and you consistently provide them with it, they will keep coming back. This XYZ is the right value package for customers. For example, if this value is the right price, there are also operational reasons behind it. To be able to offer a certain product at a certain price, businesses have to control their operational costs also. It could be an optimised delivery process standardised across regions that is helping a business save costs at the enterprise level. You would be able to secure this consistency in performance when your business maintains the same set of standards in executing the operations.

Having tested and proven processes make your business ready for scale. You can jumpstart business operations in a new store when you already know what needs to be done and how. And the best part is that those processes carry a successful track record. Minor process improvisations may be required but you would already be having the foundation of operational planning.

An important requirement for improving process and performance is a pre-existing state of planned functioning. It is difficult to draw comparisons or make contrasting observations in undefined ways of working. When an operation is defined and carried out accordingly, its efficacy level can be compared against other environmental changes. By standardising a process, a process is made a static element in the backdrop of other altering factors.

We hardly use the term ‘control’ as a function of management. Process standardisation helps achieve better control in the management of a business enterprise. By standardising, businesses have the foreknowledge of how their processes and operations are being carried out. They need not take daily reports on the basic operational framework. For instance, if any process deviation is observed at one place, it is likely that the same deviation would take place elsewhere too. A remedial measure could be easily implemented in all of its stores or branches.

Having standardised processes provides leverage in enterprise-wide change implementation. A simple example is the adoption of digital transformation. When there are standardised and documented processes, it becomes easier for businesses to figure out the business-software requirements and implement the application. There would be no need to study every branch or store individually to see how operations are carried out. Every branch/store would have the same procedures and standards of functioning. The training requirements could also be centrally determined with a positive impact on the training budget as well.

Challenges in Process Standardisation

Having processes in the first place is the foremost requirement. If you have realised the importance of processes, you will also not hesitate to adopt process standardisation. Businesses begin to take processes seriously only after they reach a certain size and stature when it becomes inescapable.

Process standardisation is a massive task. Here, we are talking about developing and tailoring processes that would be applied at the enterprise-wide level. There are various local and regional factors involved. The views of departmental heads may differ about a process. An expert and dedicated team is required to carry out this exercise.

A common charge against process standardisation is that it is a deterrent to ingenuity. And it cannot be completely denied. When every procedure is planned and defined meticulously, there remains no scope to add anything new to it. But if you have already identified a problem, why not resolve it?

Process standardisation entails technological standardisation. Organisations that use business software applications and hardware/mechanical technologies have to also standardise these resources so that process execution could be uniform. For instance, if PMS is carried out via any HR software in some regions and manually in some others, the assessments would be unbalanced because of the differences in the analytical capabilities.

Process Standardisation: Doing it Right

Keep it simple. Process standardisation need not be turned into a complex maze exercise. Develop the best process, trial run it, and then implement it with improvisations wherever required. Bear in mind that like processes, process standardisation is also a perpetual and evolving exercise. But keep process alterations within the ambit of a centralised authority. If this power is decentralised, soon you may find that your processes are no longer uniform across the organisation.

Form the principal team that will plan and execute the standardisation exercise under the supervision of a senior executive. Give them the vision and get the blueprint prepared. Identify the resource requirements. Organise regular meetings to discuss the progress and challenges. Prepare a budget and stick to it. Rope in the expertise of external process consultants to jump-speed the entire exercise.

Consider automation and technology. The process standardisation exercise is a good time to revisit, improvise, and bring in more effective and efficient IT and automation solutions to business. It also applies to businesses that are contemplating the incorporation of process management for the first time along with digital transformation. The use of the right automation solutions including software applications is critical for achieving success at process standardisation. Many complex business processes and procedures could be done digitally instead of manual execution.

Change management. Along with executive sponsorship, the engagement level of the principal team and the support and morale of employees are important to bring any big change in an organisation. Processes directly affect employees. Process standardisation may require many people to change not just their working procedures but also their approach toward their roles and responsibilities. Incentivising employees with recognition and rewards help in the adoption of new ways of working. Providing them with necessary training and development is another big must. And most importantly, it is important to give them reasonable time for adaptation.

What is Process Documentation?

Process documentation is the exercise of writing down the procedures of executing processes and operations. Process documents can be drafted using any combination of text, graphics, screenshots, videos, etc. These written documents contain: – Basic details like the name of the process, the department/function it belongs to – The flow of work – Work involved in every step – The process owners involved (doers/decision-makers, authority) – Input and output requirements at every step – Standards of performance and timelines to be maintained – Reporting criteria – Approval and rejection conditions and authority to do so – Scope of providing feedback – Identify exceptional situations and ways to address them, etc. Documenting processes help businesses cement their operational planning. It becomes easier to incorporate changes in operations. The need for supervision is reduced in relevant ways as employees can refer to these handbooks and manuals as their operational roadmaps. Ensuring strict adherence to these documents is critical to achieving the benefits of process standardisation and documentation.

About BPX:

We are a business process management consultancy brand with a budding international presence offering expert assistance to organisations in the areas of SOP development, process automation, business process management, and quality management systems.

Author Bio


Nikhil Agarwal

Chief Growth Officer
Nikhil is a calm and composed individual who has a master’s degree in international business and finance from the United Kingdom. Nikhil Agarwal has worked with 300+ companies from various sectors, since 2012, to custom-build SOPs and achieve operational excellence. Nikhil & his team have remarkable success stories of helping companies scale 10X with business process standardization.

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