Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Business Process Improvement: The Breakthrough Strategy for Total Quality, Productivity, and Competitiveness



Business Process Improvement: The Breakthrough Strategy for Total Quality, Productivity, and Competitiveness
by: H. James Harrington en


* Publisher: McGraw-Hill
* Number Of Pages: 274
* Publication Date: 1991-04-01
* ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0070267685
* ISBN-13 / EAN: 9780070267688
* Binding: Hardcover



Book Description:

It's one of the hot topics for the 1990s--how to apply quality improvement techniques originally developed for the manufacturing sector to service industries. How to Take the Lead in Business Process Management details how to do it, providing a step-by-step formula that helps companies improve quality and productivity in the support areas. Here in one comprehensive volume is all the information an organization needs to start the improvement process right away: how to determine customer needs and expectations and deliver the best service; how to establish which processes drive your business; how to create process improvement teams and train team leaders; how to eliminate bureaucracy, simplify the process, and reduce processing time; how to measure progress and provide feedback to participants; how to document the levels of improvement and certify operations and activities; and how to ensure ongoing improvement. Two special features further enahance the value of this highly practical guide: (1) a chapter of case histories, showing the results of business process improvement, and (2) an exhaustive section that guides readers in the application of problem-solving methods, value analysis and process analysis techniques, perfection analysis, work simplification programs, and more.



Summary: Streamline Process
Rating: 5

1. Streamlining suggests the trimming of waste and excess, attention to every minute detail that might lead to improved performance and quality.

2. Streamlining provides a smooth flow.

3. With streamlining, the process will operate with the least disturbance to its surroundings.

4. The 12 cornerstones tools to streamlining: a. Eliminate bureaucracy b. eliminate duplication c. Evaluate every activity in the business process to determine its contribution to meeting customer requirements. d. Simplify e. determine ways to compress cycle time to meet or exceed customer expectations and minimize storage costs. f. Make effective use of capital equipment and the working environment to improve overall performance. G. make if difficult to do the activity incorrectly h. reduce the complexity of the way we write and talk i. Standardize - select a single way to do the activity j. create a structure and policy that encourages supplier feedback and partnership k. big picture improvement - look for creative ways to drastically change the process l. automate and mechanize.

5. Improvement of a process means changing a process to make it more effective, efficient, and adaptable.

6. Preventing means you change the process to ensure that errors never reach the customer.

7. Excelling means that the process works, it is stable, and meets customer requirements.

8. Bureaucracy is bad, boring, burdensome, and brutal.

9. Bureaucracy often creates excessive paperwork in the office

10. Managers typically spend 40 to 50 percent of their time writing and reading job-related material; 60 percent of al clerical work is spent on checking, filing, and retrieving information, while only 40 percent is spent on important process-related tasks.

11. Evaluate and minimize all delays, red tape, documentation, reviews and approvals

12. Management reduces bureaucracy by starting with a directive. The directive informs management and employees that each approval signature and review active will be financially justified, that reducing total cycle time is a key business objective, and any non-value added activities will be targeted for elimination.

13. A bureaucracy step should be left in only if there is a sizeable, documented savings from the activity.

14. Duplication of data from different parts of the organization can produce conflicting data and lead to the unbalancing of the organization. For example sales may generate a monthly customer production ship forecast and production control distributes a completely different forecast.

15. Accrual means the value of the end product exceeds the accumulated costs. Value added=value after processing - value before processing.

16. Value added assessment is an analysis of every activity in the business process to determine its contribution to meet end-customer expectations.

17. Value is defined from the point of view of the end customer or the business process.

18. Waste occurs when activities exist because the process is inadequately designed or the process is not functioning as designed; activities not required by the customer or the process and activity that could be eliminated without affecting the output to the customer.

19. Instability occurs as organization grow, processes break down and are patch for use, and become excessive complex.

20. Errors occur when additional controls are put in place to review outputs rather than change the process.

21. Communication breakdown exasperates failure when individuals in the process fail to talk to their customers and understand their requirements.

22. Too much time is spent on internal maintenance activities such as coordinating, expatiating, record-keeping instead of on redesigning the process.

23. Quality is possible and rework eliminated when the causes of the errors are removed.

24. Combining operations, moving people closer together, or automation can minimize the moving of documents and information.

25. Waiting time can be minimized by combining operations, balancing work loads, or automation.

26. Identifying root causes reduces trouble-shooting.

27. The increase in complexity results in increasing difficulties everywhere as activities, decisions, relationships, and essential information become more difficult to understand and more difficult to manage.

28. Simplification starts by evaluating every element making it easier to understand and less demanding of other elements.

29. When an organization fails to make continuous simplification efforts a major portion of the managing process, it invites difficulty and poor performance; simplification is achieved by combining similar activities, reducing the amount of handling (reduce delays caused by handoffs and decision making), eliminating unused data and copies, and refining standard reporting.


Summary: Still Relevant and Valuable
Rating: 5


I recently re-read this book, first published in 1991, and found that - despite all the changes which have occurred in the business world since then - most of its material remains solid and relevant. In the Preface, H. James Harrington observes that organizations "are thinking differently about their processes. Processes are no longer viewed as just production processes. Today (i.e. in 1991), management realizes that that there are many processes that use material, equipment, and people to provide many types of outputs and services. They are called business processes, and today they are even more important to competitiveness than production processes." In this context, I am reminded of what Peter Drucker asserted (in 1963) in an article which appeared in the Harvard Business Review: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." Presumably this is what Harrington has in mind when suggesting that "automating a bad process not only ensures that we can do a bad job every times but that we can do it faster and with less effort than before."

Harrington carefully organizes his material within ten chapters, followed by an appendix that provides "Interview Guidelines." His pragmatic approach throughout the narrative focuses on what to do to initiate and then sustain business process improvement (BPI):

Focus on business processes
Set the stage for BPI
Organize for process improvement
Use flowcharting to draw a process "picture"
Understand the process characteristics
Streamline the process
Use measurements, feedback, and action to "load, aim, and fire"
Qualify (i.e. establish credibility for) process
Benchmark process

For me, some of the most interesting and valuable material is provided in Chapter 5, "Understanding the Process Characteristics." Harrington identifies five (Flow, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Cycle Time, and Cost) and explains what must be done to get them in proper alignment (hence the importance of a flow chart) in terms of people involved, objectives to be achieved, strategies and tactics to be executed, measurements, evaluation, and modification.

As they embark together on a journey to achieve the desired objectives, they should realize that they will be involved in a marathon, not a sprint. They must be persistent but patient.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out sources which were published later, such as Dan Madison's Process Mapping, James R. Press's Process Improvement and Process Management, Process Improvement Essentials: CMMI, Six SIGMA, and ISO 9001, John Jeston and Johan Nelis' Business Process Management: Practical Guidelines to Successful Implementation, and Paul Harmon's Business Process Change: A Manager's Guide to Improving, Redesigning, and Automating Processes.


Summary: The quality: the best competitive tool!
Rating: 5

In the actual times of constant, requiring and increasing professional improvement, you just have just only an alternative: to isolate yourself from the world: It's not an optional choice, but a question of surviving.
The leadership process must involve all the team under his service; otherwise your destiny is uncertain in the values market: your market share will vanish silently and if you don't act and react faster than the business dynamic, you will be out of game: I think the comparison may be established without any risk: the quality in the Darwinian environment will become in an additional gene to survive.
You do not have to think but living according this life system. This adaptation process has a hard barrier, the resistance to change: most of people live with this mental premise: the minimum effort and the maximum boring.
Arnold Toynbee wrote about the minority creators, that attitude does not sound challenging for any artistic activity, because the quality, conceived as one the main ingredients of the creative work is inherent in the inner process.
I wrote an article in the local press in 1996 named "Art and quality" (available for any one who is interested) in which I remarked this ineffable premise.
James Hillman stated once that the first enemy of the art is the mediocrity, and the quality process in last instance follows that change of behavior.
In this sense Harrington's text is a fundamental guide that explains step by step a wholesome creation process of a qualitative thinking, you will obtain the practice tools and the extreme useful basic elements available for any person.


Summary: Excellent Starting Point
Rating: 5

This book was highly recommended to me and it did not dissappoint. Simple yet powerful practices and principles are clearly laid out in an easily understood manner. I now have a foundation to build upon with future readings on the subject of BPI.


Summary: More Info.
Rating: 2

I rate it a 2 because it didn't give that much information. Some people just don't have enough money to go out and buy books. Especially young adults on a fixed income. When I come to the internet I expect to learn and read, not spend my money. Thank You

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3 comments:

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Rebecca Lorenz said...

It's such a great idea that anyone can improve business through strategies for total quality, productivity and competitiveness. Thanks for showing this kind of idea.

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