In my years of consulting, I’ve encountered a common fear among clients – the fear of process standardization. The mere mention of the term conjures up images of lengthy implementation periods, resistance from the organization, and exorbitant costs. Sometimes, the unique nature of their inputs makes standardization seem like an impossible task. However, I firmly believe that there’s a way to navigate these challenges and gradually introduce standardization in a manner that is both flexible and effective.
Understanding the Fear
Before we delve into the solution, it’s important to understand the fear. Standardization, in many minds, is synonymous with rigidity. It’s seen as a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t account for the unique aspects of each process. This fear is further fueled by the perception that top leaders are reluctant to use their authority to enforce standardization, making the task seem even more daunting.
However, the reality is that standardization isn’t about creating a rigid, inflexible system. It’s about establishing a framework that allows for consistency, efficiency, and continuous improvement. It’s about finding the balance between flexibility and structure. And most importantly, it’s about delivering value to your customers in the most effective way possible.
The Five-Step Methodology
To help my clients overcome their fear of standardization, I’ve developed a five-step methodology. This approach is designed to cover 80% of the variations in any process, providing a flexible yet structured framework for standardization.
1. Design a Flexible Framework: The first step is to examine your existing process. Identify the key components and use them to design a 10-step framework. This framework should be flexible enough to accommodate unique scenarios, yet structured enough to provide a clear path towards standardization.
2. Define Inputs and Outputs: For each of the 10 steps, clearly define what the inputs and outputs should be. This will help you maintain control over the process and identify areas for improvement. It also provides a clear understanding of what is expected at each stage, reducing ambiguity and increasing efficiency.
3. Establish Control Points: Next, establish control points at each of the 10 steps. These are checkpoints where you can validate three key areas: quality, costs, and timelines. By monitoring these areas, you can ensure that the process is on track and make adjustments as necessary.
You can use the table below to grab all of it:
4. Monitor Exceptions: Keep a close eye on any deviations from the methodology. The goal is to gradually bring more of these exceptions under the umbrella of your methodology, thereby increasing the scope of your standardization. This step is crucial as it allows you to identify and address issues early, preventing them from becoming major roadblocks.
5. Gradual Standardization: Finally, using the 10-step methodology you’ve created, start to gradually standardize the process. This isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Take it slow and steady, and you’ll start to see the benefits of standardization unfold.
The journey towards process standardization can seem like a daunting task. However, with the right approach, it can be a rewarding journey that leads to increased efficiency, consistency, and value delivery. Remember, the goal isn’t to create a rigid, inflexible system. It’s to establish a framework that allows for flexibility while providing a clear path towards standardization.
So, don’t let the fear of standardization hold you back. Embrace the challenge, use the five-step methodology, and start your journey towards a more efficient and effective process today.
Independent GBS Advisor
Trusted Advisor and award-winning GBS Independent Advisor in strategy, leadership and processes. I help organizations in the GBS Transformation.
Author the newsletter: “The Journey of GBS Leader” which is read by more than 1,100 GBS professionals every day.