Process : A Definition

There are many views of what a process is. We use a new way of thinking about process.

Below are illustrated some of the old ways of thinking about process.

A process is often seen as an input transformed into an output. It can be a recipe. In construction a process is often described using a Gantt or Bar Chart . More advanced ideas include a network chart or a flow chart. Some of the most advanced ideas involve an IDEF0 diagram.

Selection of traditional ways to represent a process

Our new way of looking at process is as a peg on which we can attach all other ideas.

It is a basic tool for describing a system hard or soft.

A product is an output of a process and it is normal to keep these two ideas quite distinct because it is useful in defining what the client perceives he/she is buying. However because products do things and exist through time then products are also processes in a wider system.

If we look at a process from several different aspects or points of view we can 'hang' all of our ideas such as quality, value, risk, teamwork etc as below.

Diagram showing how process is central to all we do

We arrange these process holons into a hierachy of levels of description. Each process should be monitored to keep it on a path to success. Thus for example every process should have a process owner i.e. a person who is responsible for delivering success of that particular process.

We measure important parameters of the process and try to ensure the parameters are kept within acceptable bounds. At any given time during a process we have evidence from past and present performance and we can make predictions about the future.

The diagram below illustrates this with two performance measures.

Performance of a process constrained by 2 performance measures