Very often, fighting chaos in start-ups, team performance issues in mid-sized companies or complaints about efficiency in large enterprises are caused by the same reason: the existing processes don't fit the process maturity level. Taking an uncompromising look at this issue may help responsible managers address it.
Managers tend to say: "I know the reason! My problem is lack of properly qualified resources!” Indeed. Skillful knowledgeable people are critically important. Another must-have is a rational approach towards creating productive synergy between these individuals and a project. Processes link these separate elements into one engine. Consequently, maturity of the process stands for the efficiency of this machine. Good managers always care about process efficiency. They try to choose the best approach from the start, put in considerable effort to make revisions, carry out corrective actions, and as result keep the process up-to-date. The more mature the process level is, the more improved the processes are. Here, the key to success lies in the manager's awareness of cutting edge practices and his or her ability to adopt them.
Managers struggle to keep control over processes when they are poorly organized or become outdated and there are some alarm bells that suggest the processes don’t match the required level:
- The manager spends way too much effort on day-to-day operational activities (approvals, interviews, meetings, strategic sessions, reporting, etc) and doesn’t have capacity for continuous efficiency improvement.
- The manager receives complaints from stakeholders. Keep in mind that the working environment is changeable: even if the initial set-up included very effective processes, it doesn't mean they will work with the same efficiency later.
- The manager has no time for self-education. It is very important to be aware of what is happening in the industry: the most recent trends, methodologies, and tools that may help to improve current efficiency.
Increasing process maturity is not that easy, due to the nature of change. Any transformation is always stressful. First of all, the manager should evaluate existing process organization, build the reform plan, and then implement improvements. In most cases this is not what managers are doing on a daily basis. The less experienced the manager is in transformation, the more risky the process improvement becomes. That’s why very often managers don't feel confident enough to execute this task. They deal with the issues instead of preventing them. As a result, they don’t have time to find the solution outside and fall into the “magic loop” trap.
Some organizations hire trained consultants who have competence in process maturity improvement or set up a department in charge of it. This is a traditional, but not the cheapest way to deal with process maturity. Let's have a look at non-standard solutions that organizations may get for free.
Large outsourcing companies provide services for hundreds or thousands of different customers or industry leaders. These organizations are able to accumulate knowledge very quickly using multiple channels. Day in and day out they establish collaboration with customers that have different levels of process maturity. These real-life exercises allow providers to grow their own powerful expertise.
Providers who have customers from different industries and different sizes in their pool hold unique positions. The most valuable knowledge emerges on the crossroads of industries and businesses. As a result, outsourcing companies have the benefit of utilizing this “mix and match” approach. They are able to distribute the knowledge gathered during collaboration with big organizations from one domain to start-ups from another field and vice versa. As an example, approaches used to control product quality are critically important for big healthcare enterprises, and can also be useful to start-up firms which develop navigation software for aircraft. Automotive start-ups are usually well-acquainted with the hottest IoT trends, while mid-size organizations that develop mobile software for payments may lack this level of innovation. Each company type has its own best practices that could be successfully applied to another. Good outsourcing companies have processes for distributing knowledge across the company using sharing sessions, case studies, trainings, retrospective meetings, etc. Some have special Functional Offices responsible for this task. For customers, this means that working with outsourcing provider’s employees who have experienced mature clients and are well trained to organize effective processes, can improve their own approach.
To keep this on track, global IT Outsourcing provider SoftServe established its own methodology - Abiliton – which focuses on gathering and reusing knowledge. With this approach SoftServe’s consultants are able to help its clients’ managers acquire new knowledge about proven approaches to set-up or change processes or practices.
As a part of Abiliton, SoftServe offers a SmartStart approach for new clients, which was used by more than 10% of our new customers during Q1-Q3 2015, which has delivered a new perspective on the customer’s existing processes, rearranging them more effectively, and improving productivity in 100% cases.
Collaboration with large outsourcing providers can give tremendous, and not always obvious, value for organizations who work with companies where knowledge is seen as the most valuable asset (it's especially important for start-ups and companies with outdated processes). SoftServe utilizes its own Abiliton methodology to help its customers achieve process maturity upgrades as a bonus.