Operations Focus

 Basic Business Cents

A Community Performance Improvement Plan for Small Business


This category of the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence was at one time labeled Process Management, which I prefer. This section recognizes that all work within an organization is composed of a series of processes and these processes form a system for getting work done. A footnote in the Baldrige Criteria states, “Work systems refers to how the work of your organization is accomplished. Work systems involve your workforce, your key suppliers and partners, your contractors, your collaborators, and other components of the supply chain needed to produce and deliver your products and business and support processes. Your work systems coordinate the internal work processes and the external resources necessary for you to develop, produce, and deliver your products to your customers and to succeed in your marketplace.”

Performing the self-assessment on the Operations Focus category starts the month 10 training activity. It examines how the organization designs, manages, and improves its work systems and work processes to deliver customer value and achieve organizational success and sustainability. It will also measure the readiness for emergencies of your organization.

The areas addressed are:

  • Work Systems: How do you design, manage, and improve your work systems?
    • Work System Design
      • Design Concepts
      • Work System Requirements
    • Work System Management
      • Work System Implementation
      • Cost Control
    • Emergency Readiness
  • Work Processes: How do you design, manage, and improve your key work processes?
    • Work Process Design
      • Design Concepts
      • Work Process Requirements
    • Work Process Management
      • Key Work Process Implementation
      • Supply-Chain Management
      • Process Improvement

Following the self-assessment on this category, each of the participants will be asked to draw a system chart of how their organization works. This is not as easy as it might sound, as management does not always know how the work really gets done. They will have to talk to their people to see what they do in reality to confirm their theory of how it is done and how it should be done. Workers sometimes do something different than what they are instructed to do, not because they are negligent or lazy, but because the processes which have been provided to them do not work. They do what they have to do to get the job done.

Instruction and coaching will be provided on flow-charting and drawing a systems map. This will involve the identification of the 3-5 key processes of their organization and the activities that are part of the value stream and those that are the supporting and leadership processes. The key processes are drawn in a box and represent the value added that the organization provides. Inputs such as labor and material suppliers are drawn outside the left side of the box with arrows going to the box. Users of the output of the organization like customers and other stakeholders are drawn outside the box on the right. Management is shown outside the top of the box and supporting activities like accounting, personnel, legal, etc. are shown outside the box on the bottom. This is a useful way to depict that those activities on the top and bottom may be useful, but they are overhead. Only those activities contained inside the box are adding direct value.

As you might envision at this point, this chart is extremely useful in managing the organization.kay