The skilled Process Expert (Process Teams, part 2)
In our previous article on the process owner, we discussed in detail the role and tasks of a process owner. But the process owner is not alone in the process team.
In this second part of the Process Teams series, we take a closer look at the role and tasks of a skilled process expert, also sometimes called a process expert.
A process expert is a professional with extensive knowledge and (practical) experience in a particular business process. A process team often has one or more process experts, who receive support from a process developer and guidance from the process owner.
The process teams series consists of the following articles:
- Part 1: the servant process leader or process owner »
- Part 2: the skilled process expert »
- Part 3: the connecting process developer »
- Part 4: the mobilising process trainer »
A quick recap: the process team
In the previous article, we also explained what a process team is.
To briefly refresh your memory, a process team consists of a group of people whose goal is to implement a business process, keep it running smoothly and improve it where necessary.
This team usually consists of a process leader or owner, process experts, a process trainer, helpers and a supporting process developer. An organisation often has several process teams, e.g. a team for the sales process, another team for the production process, etc.
The process team works together to map the process, make process agreements, collect feedback and improve the process. The process experts are crucial here.
The role and tasks of a process expert
Skilled process experts participate in the process team because of their knowledge and experience regarding a specific business process. Think for example of logistics experience or technical knowledge, but also knowledge of sales techniques or of production processes.
Together with fellow process experts and helpers, the process owner, and supported by a process developer, they ensure that there is a good process description.
The responsibilities of process experts in a process team include:
- Defining the processes, aligning and connecting the process chains.
- Verifying process agreements for feasibility.
- Initiating and providing/facilitating process evaluations, audits, inspections.
- Coordinating signals and feedback for improvement and development.
We will elaborate on the different tasks below.
1. Thinking in results, processes, inputs and outputs, management aspects
Phew, that sounds like quite a task. But don't worry, it's not as complicated as it seems. What we mean by this is that participating in the process team is a bit different from working in execution.
It requires a specific way of thinking: process-oriented thinking. (Although we always recommend making everyone in execution "process-aware" as well, so that every colleague can participate in process improvements.)
That means, as a process expert, look at a process as a whole. Look at the results the process produces and the processes that contribute to it. Also consider inputs (what do you get from a previous process) and outputs (what do you deliver to the next process?).
And be aware that there are 6 management aspects involved in each process:
- ICT Systems: What tools and systems are deployed in this process?
- Roles, responsibilities and authority: What are the roles, and who is responsible for what within this process?
- Performance indicators: What is the measurable output of the process?
- Risks and control measures: What are potential risks and hazards of this process, what are the possible consequences and how do we control them?
- Standards and requirements: Are there any standards and requirements applicable to this process, such as legal requirements, industry standards or internal policy standards?
- Work instructions and checklists: what work instructions and checklists should be prepared for this process
Want to dive deeper into the management aspects? Then read our earlier blog on the subject.
2. Assembling a process team
As a process expert, you may also need to help put together a process team, looking for more process experts or helpers who can contribute to the process team. By helpers, we mean colleagues who make a smaller contribution to the process team, but who therefore contribute to parts of the process.
When putting together a process team, you should take into account:
- The composition with experience, knowledge and competences.
- Skilled thinkers and doers: Make sure you invite people who can think in processes but also have a good understanding of the practical side of things. That they have experience in "doing" the process.
- The circumstances: what does the context of the process look like?
- The brief: what is the question, what is to be achieved by this process?
When assembling a process team, you want your team members all to make unique contributions to the process.
3. Chairing the process team
Sometimes the process owner or process leader chairs the process team, but in slightly larger organisations this need not be the case. In such cases, a process expert can be invited to act as chair of the process team.
As chair, your responsibility is to ensure that the process team meets effectively, where there is space to share necessary information and make decisions.
In doing so, you act as a point of contact for team members. Sometimes you are also responsible for providing feedback to the process owner, but in some organisations it is agreed that the process developer takes on this responsibility.
4. Designing and setting up processes
Together with the process team, as a process expert you are responsible for designing, setting up and controlling the process. You often start by mapping the process together. The Process Model Canvas can support this as a practical working form. You look at the different steps, provide input based on your experience and, as a team, connect bottlenecks and solutions.
Next, you are responsible for setting up the process. This means looking at which systems, tools and (sub-)processes are needed for this (also think back to the 6 management aspects mentioned earlier).
In doing so, you ensure that the process meets the requirements, legislation and standards. You make process agreements together, and record them in a management system such as Comm'ant Process, so that everyone on the shop floor can fall back on them.
5. Transfer, training and testing of process agreements
Of course, a process design is not worth very much if colleagues in execution are not familiar with it. Therefore, together with the process team, you are also responsible for transferring the process arrangements to the wider group of managers and executive teams. This means ensuring clear communication, making sure everyone is aware of the goals and practices of the process.
You will also work to ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of knowledge. Here, you can think about organising training sessions and workshops, but also conducting tests or audits to check whether agreements are being properly observed.
6. Testing and validating the process
We briefly touched upon it above: testing and validating the process is also a task for the process team, and thus also for the process expert. Here you can think of:
- Conducting audits to check compliance with process agreements
- Collecting feedback from colleagues working with the process
- Observing the process in practice
- Verifying progress and results
Based on the findings, you and the process team can go back to the drawing board to make adjustments where necessary so that the process performs optimally.
So a process team is never "done". There is always room for improvements. The members of a process team may change over the years, but the process team will always remain responsible for the design and set-up of a process.
7. Report progress to process owner and/or steering committee
Finally, the process expert may be responsible for reporting progress to the process owner and/or the steering committee. In some organisations, not the process expert, but the process developer is responsible for this. You can think of monitoring progress and results, suggesting improvements or proposing changes to systems.
As a process expert, you are often the point of contact for the members of the process team and other stakeholders in the organisation. Here, your role as an expert is therefore indispensable! Through your expertise and knowledge of the process, you help the organisation further and ensure that the process functions optimally.
In doubt about the composition of your process team?
We like to share our ideas with you. Take advantage of our extensive experience in putting together effective process teams. Contact our process experts »
In conclusion: Next Level process management using Comm'ant
With Comm'ant's software, your organisation will make a quantum leap with process management. The software offers extensive possibilities to document, monitor and improve processes.
When you get started with Comm'ant, we are happy to share our more than 20 years of process management knowledge and experience.
Want to know more? Then book a no-obligation demo with our process specialists.