Editor's note: Here at Smartsheet, our customers inspire us every day. Today's guest post is by WandaJean Jones, Service Delivery Process Improvement Leader at GE. We've seen WandaJean tell some great stories on LinkedIn, and we asked her if she'd be willing share some of her insights on the Smartsheet blog. Here's what she had to say.
Whether you’re working to improve a process or imagine a new one, you’ll need three critical ingredients to succeed: The Light, The Past, and The Courage.
The Light, as in “the light at the end of the tunnel,” is first. Gathering requirements to understand what success looks like is key. Many process developers spend time learning about their customers’ or stakeholders’ “light.” Without gaining clarity and understanding exactly what the end result needs to do or produce, the process processing dies at this step.
The Past is everything the processor already knows: How does stuff work? Where does data go? Who does what on which team? All of this could be considered useless knowledge…UNTIL it’s time to improve or imagine a new process. Many of the best processes aren’t brand-spankin’ new, they are typically based upon existing (proven) frameworks and methodologies. This makes it very important for the processor to keep up to date on latest trends, industry research, and connections to people who work in various connecting business functions.
Finally, you’ll need The Courage to take on “Friends of the Former.” You know, the people who might be hesitant to trust your expertise about a new solution. After all, you may be really shaking things up for your business! Innovating or improving processes can leave you vulnerable to resistance, or to being seen as the “cray-cray” person, but keep your courage. Keep in mind that something must be broken or not yielding the desired profit, quality, or momentum; otherwise, there would be no need to change or make a new process. This paradigm shift is likely to cause Friends of the Former to fear the unknown.
To smooth out the parallel change-management process, a new solution must come fully-loaded with:
- Process champion (many times this is a senior business leader)
- Critical-to-quality (CTQ) documentation
- Stakeholder buy-in
- Scalability and repeatability
- Connection to data
- Reporting mechanism to surface business insights through data
Finally, make sure your new solution can withstand the “give and take” test: Never take away portions of the existing process upon which others rely — without offering a replacement. From a process-design thinking perspective, always make sure you’re engineering your solution to give the customer their “Light” (not to be confused with your own!).
Using this approach, my team was able to give GE back over 200 days of productivity. Now, go save your business…one process at a time!
WandaJean Jones is a Smartsheet customer and process change agent at GE who shared her expertise at Smartsheet ENGAGE 2017. Read more from WandaJean: Once Upon a Time, I Digitized a Global Process.