Understanding Process Collaboration
Establishing a practice of Process Collaboration is a growing method for how work needs to be accomplished when a cross-functional team or a work area with multiple employees doing similar work needs organizing. Many businesses now have remote employees and teams that need to interact to respond to client requests. Having everyone work in the same process and use the same tools can result in timely, effective client communications. Lean Management introduced the need for a process flow focused on the client’s desired outcome. Process Collaboration focuses on this flow using the same platforms for communication. Often, these platforms are software-based and used throughout an organization.
The Benefits of Implementing Process Collaboration
In many organizations, the work has not been clearly defined between handoffs and within departments. Process Collaboration is a method to look at in detail the way work is done primarily in the communication platform. When this is done properly, work can continue even if an employee is missing that day. This is really a growing important need as clients expect immediate answers. In the past, clients may have created a relationship with a particular person, and that may still exist today, but clients expect an answer even if that person is out. So, it is incumbent on the organization to create a platform for others to be able to see how to answer the client’s situation.
Agile Strategy and Leadership in Process Collaboration
Modern organizations are focusing on using agile methodologies to implement solutions that allow their organization to meet this client need to have answers today. Some of these methodologies include lean management, agile strategy, strategic doing, sprints, and other collaboration methods. There are many benefits to Process Collaboration, including enhanced innovation, increased efficiency, improved agility, and greater engagement. Employees are at the ready to assist clients and that leads to more positive client discussions and less about reasons why the question cannot be answered today.
Practical Steps to Implement Process Collaboration
To begin using Process Collaboration, an organization looks at fostering open communication, embracing diversity, investing in training, and utilizing the right tools. Mapping the process in an open meeting using a methodology such as Rapid Improvement can help a team see what everyone is doing to reach the client’s needs. Rapid Improvement is one of the tools that the ASL uses to help clients see what is happening today and build a plan to improve. The methodology helps people express ideas for change in a non-confrontational way and then the team is able to find ways to improve today without waiting for approval for some purchase by leadership. One example was to improve the admissions process at a higher education institution. Here, they saw just how hard they made it for the prospect to advance, and the team broke down many barriers. The result was increased enrollment and higher satisfaction among the team members. When you create an environment of process collaboration that is a no-blame environment, you can accept new ideas and build team excitement.
Challenges and Solutions
One challenge the team may face is that the current software or platform used is not well understood by the team. Spending some time having people understand how others use the platforms and speaking with the platform’s creator often shows that a team is underutilizing the tools. Now that the process has been mapped, the team knows what they want the tool to use to do. Benchmarking by speaking with others using the tool as often given new ideas or helped clarify the ways in which the team wants to use the tool. It is highly encouraged to have a benchmarking chart that tracks how others use a platform.
Forging Ahead: Embracing the Future with Process Collaboration
Effective Process Collaboration depends on the team leadership creating an environment for success. This can include pre-planning any event that looks at the process and then training the team on a methodology to improve. Telling a team that things need to get better without giving them training and tools will not be sufficient in today’s agile environment. Team members expect leadership to provide support but not necessarily all answers. If you are leadership, it would be advantageous for you to get more involved in understanding process collaboration and how it could enhance the results for your organization. At the Agile Strategy Lab, we are here to assist you on this journey.
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Janyce Fadden is Director of Strategic Engagement at the UNA College of Business & Technology, which hosts the UNA Agile Strategy Lab. A co-author of Strategic Doing: 10 Skills for Agile Leadership, she focuses on innovation pipeline strategy and other business engagement projects.