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Why the back-end is as important as the front-end

Blog post   •   Sep 05, 2014 18:45 +08

This blog post is reproduced with permission from ProChange Tech.

Is process important?

I went to visit a client, who is into high-end car repair.  The initial discussion was his website.  As we delved deeper, he expressed his worry about his workshop which was running a loss. I suggested that he should explore automating his workshop which may reduce resource utilization and thus turn it around.

On a subsequent week I agreed to meet the general manager of his workshop. As I sat down gathering requirement for the software, I realized that the workshop had no processes in place and every work was ad-hoc.

Are processes stifling?

I have been a student of process management, and I have seen that every work floor, be it the manufacturing or service industry has a defined process. In most cases these are not documented and many cases these processes deviates from its original path especially during emergencies. Some of these processes have exceptions as well.

Some managers (especially of small and medium enterprise) tell me that they are not process-oriented because they don’t want their organisation to be rigid and bureaucratic.  I have seen a HR department refusing to grant an employee a study leave because it was not in the HR process of that organisation.

Does process create freedom?

People who believe in “process” will always see an opportunity in defining a perfect process.  The steps would be

  • Defining a process
  • See that the process works and does not require resources exceeding the cost of “end product”
  • People involved in the process are trained and require least intervention from process makers 

A good process put in place runs on its own steam and reduces time taken to monitor day to day activity.  The underlying idea is that:

  • The end product does not deviate from the objective, planned at the beginning of the process. 
  • The entire resource utilization to end-product ratio is as efficient as possible (cost of resource utilization divided by cost of the end product is never equal to one but is always close to one) 
  • Market value of your end product will always be based on how efficient is your production process be it manufacturing or service. 

The Six Sigma

An efficient process does not require constant intervention.  However there is pitfall, these processes needs to be revisited constantly and changes needs to be done, if required, to keep the deviation of the end product to a bare minimum.

According to the Six Sigma principle, an efficient process can have only 3.4 deviation out of 1 million opportunity.  Since Motorola devised this methodology, it has been effectively used in manufacturing industry but its success has made the service industry use it to standardize its technical or other service support.

Organisation needs to think of processes for every activity, but the efficiency of these processes can only be achieved by constant feedback.  A dynamic process will make a product more effective and reliable.

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