Module 5 - Embed them in your business
If you've set out the process in a collaborative space, with people’s names against all of the steps in a sequence, it becomes easy for people to see their responsibilities. You could even use a data filter to help them easily identify their own activities.
Each time you need to use a process, add a column for that task. So for example if you have an employee onboarding process documented in the sheet then each time you onboard an employee, add a column with the name of the employee.
This column can then be used to register when someone has completed each element in the process. While a tick would suffice, I prefer employees to record the date they completed the step, because that's a more useful piece of information that will allow you to analyze the process later – as part of a review of what works well or not so well, and as the basis for future improvements.
Collaborating on a simple document which sets everything out clearly is the most important thing here, to keep things straightforward and get everyone involved. Don't worry about trying to control the spreadsheet or adding permissions to it.
Just trust your staff to be able to put something together. If you want controls over the process, that's where software can start to play a part.
Introduce a feedback loop
We need to capture feedback so we can improve. For each time you run the process, add another column for feedback that allows people to comment on each of the current steps and provide constructive feedback.
Nothing needs to be set in stone here. When you review the spreadsheet, you might consider whether additional elements need to be added, or certain steps honed.
Locking down the spreadsheet as a definitive record of process suggests finality and rigidity – rather than promoting a culture of continuous improvement and process innovation.
I would go one step further and suggest that, if someone wants to add a new step to improve the process, the facility is there to allow this – then the team can see how this new measure pans out in practice, and how useful it is to everyone involved.
Keep an audit trail
I recommend keeping an audit trail, which could be a simple case of making a copy of the spreadsheet periodically, so that you can see where steps or details are added or deleted, and/or gain insights into where parts of the process might not be as effective as originally thought.
What not to do
Assume a spreadsheet will do everything
If you’re using a spreadsheet, those involved will still need to notify others when they’ve done their bit (otherwise everything stalls)
Assume you’ll always do it like this
It may feel a little painful (if you are using a spreadsheet), but that isn’t the purpose of this exercise. What is important is validating the process is correct, and that everyone is able to input as they work through some examples during the three week period
What is the expected outcome?
Validation that the process is correct, as it happens
Collaborative feedback on how it can be improved, is being recorded
That the process is automatically refined, in a very short period - you are already improving how your business operates
What should owners of the relevant areas do next?
Read on to the next module; Extend.
We have three weeks left before you will review as a business, the outputs from this exercise as a management team.
Whether you use specific software or spreadsheets, next, what’s needed is a means for people to confirm that they've performed the activities required by their part of the process.
By doing this you are connecting the documentation to the activities people perform. This is where people who create documents go wrong, no one looks at them and they become out of date.