Process Approach to Management: Definition & Concept

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  • 0:00 Definition of Process…
  • 0:21 Conceptual Framework
  • 3:49 Applying Process…
  • 5:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Quality and performance are the aims of process management. In this lesson, you'll learn about process management and some of its key concepts. You'll also have a chance to take a short quiz after the lesson.

Definition of Process Management

Process management is an approach to management that views the activities of an organization as a set of processes undertaken to advance organizational goals. A manager using this technique attempts to design organizational processes - activities - that emphasize quality and performance.

Conceptual Framework

Process Defined

Let' start with defining what a process is. A process is basically a set of actions that you take in a set order to accomplish a goal. All business activities can be viewed as a process under this definition. For example, let's say you operate a bakery. Baking a cake is a process.

Process Development

You should also note that while there are many different ways to do something, some ways are better than others. If we're baking a cake, it's often better to add all the dry ingredients together in one mixing bowl, and then mix all the wet ingredients in another bowl. You then combine the mixed dry ingredients and mixed wet ingredients together in one bowl and mix them all together to make the batter. This is the optimal process for making cake batter. However, you can certainly mix all the ingredients in one bowl and the process will still work and you will have a cake. On the other hand, sometimes a process is too flawed to work, such as baking the wet and dry ingredients of our cake in different pans.

Process Documentation

Processes are typically documented so that there is consistency in application. Documenting a process is simply explaining the process in writing or some other medium, such as a video demonstrating the process. A simple example of process documentation is a recipe in a recipe book.

Process Monitoring

Managers continually monitor the process and its outputs. They will then measure the process and outputs against a predetermined standard called a benchmark. You want to make sure that the process is producing up to the organizational standards. For example, a box of cereal produced by a company should contain 12.5 ounces of product, which is the baseline established by the company. Every box of cereal that comes off the production line should contain 12.5 ounces of product if the process is working correctly.

Analyzing & Improving the Process

Process management seeks to continuously improve organizational processes through process analysis, which is where you break down a process into its distinct steps and the related inputs and outs of each step to see if any changes in the steps can lead to improvements in the process.

Turning to our bakery example, we need to analyze our cake batter process to see if it is truly optimal, and if it is not, what we can do to improve it. We first take a look at the recipe to break the process down into component steps. We then can use different tools to measure the process and its output. We may check the consistency of the batter, the temperature of the batter, the mixing and baking time required and the moistness of the cake produced by the batter.

If we can improve the process, we modify it to enhance performance and quality. This process may be undertaken in a scientific manner with precise measurements, tests, and computer models to test efficiencies. On the other hand, we may just use trial and error.

Returning to our cake example, perhaps we should melt our butter before mixing it with the other ingredients, and sift our flour and other dry ingredients before mixing them with the wet ingredients. We may also test to see if hand mixing or electric mixing produces a better batter. We may also experiment with ingredients of different quality and costs to make the batter. We will bake cakes with these alternative processes and compare them against our original cake, which is our current baseline. The goal is to improve the process. If we have done our work right, we may have improved the performance of our cake production as well as the quality of our cakes.

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