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Processes Don't Start and Stop With IT

By Guta Basner We all use processes in our everyday life, but most of time we don't recognize them as processes we call them 'habits.'
Oct 16, 2005

ITSM Watch Staff

By Guta Basner

Supermarket strike, raging fires, diminished wages and homes lost. Disasters strike when you least expect them.

In the first days of the major grocery chain strike, I walked into a small independent store I frequently patronize. On previous visits the parking lot would be half empty and two or three checkout lines would move swiftly - but not on this day. It took 15 minutes to find a parking spot, and the vision of a dreaded checkout line was looming in my mind.

To my surprise all eight cash registers were open, every checkout stand had baggers, and shoppers were moving through the line with remarkable speed. I found the store manager, who was bagging groceries by one of the registers, and asked him when he had hired all the extra help. "We invoked our disaster preparedness process," he answered. As a result of foresight and well thought out processes more customers are now loyal to this store.

During the same time, a firestorm was raging out of control. For over a week the city of San Diego was under siege. The disaster preparedness plan was not adequate. Time was wasted, lives and property lost. A small supermarket was prepared, but the city was not.

Processes - We all know the meaning and the benefits of the processes, or do we?
We all use processes in our everyday life, but most of time we don't recognize them as processes we call them "habits". Picture this; when you were a toddler your mother woke you up in the morning, showed you how to brush your teeth, comb your hair, and get dressed. Then she would feed you breakfast and out you went.

A couple of years later and your mother knocked on the door waking you by saying "Time to get ready." By then, you knew the process of getting ready; brush teeth, comb hair, get dressed, have breakfast and off to school. In college an alarm clock replaced your Mother's wake up call. But, the process was the same. Then one day you overslept and you rushed through the "get ready" process; which you could do on the run, or in the dark - it became a "habit."

What the example tells us is that any process has a purpose - "get ready," that the tools can be changed - "from mother's voice to a knock on the door to an alarm clock" and that the same result will be achieved. It also shows us that the processes can be people and tool independent.

For example, in your business you can order a product by writing an order on a piece of paper, e-mailing, phoning, or use a specially designed form or program - the result will be the same regardless of which tool you use to place an order. The major difference will be the time you spent on placing that order and your ability to track it.

Another case in point, your company has a Service Support Desk. How your staff is trained, how fast they can resolve an incident, how incidents are categorized and recorded, and how the problems are escalated; all of it will affect your customer satisfaction and in return the bottom line of your business.

Throughout our personal and business lives we all follow processes, but how good are they?
Couple of years back a friend jokingly asked me, "You always pitch processes, but can you add a couple of hours to my day? I am tired of wasting time standing in lines." Sure, I answered.

After interviewing him, I began my study and produced the following results:

  1. The store where he shops was the least busy on Tuesday evening
  2. His bank was half deserted on Wednesdays and Thursdays
  3. The gas station one block from his home was almost vacant on Monday night
  4. The best day to take in dry-cleaning was Tuesday
All in all it was a 12-point time saving plan with the mission statement (it's still posted on his refrigerator), "Free weekends - Time for fun." A timesaving plan was presented and it was his decision to accept and follow the plan or reject and continue to do things the old way. To this day he introduces me as the "somebody who saved my day."

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