Over the years I have been taught that any successful initiative relies on the 3 pillars of people, processes, and tools. In today’s workplace I believe the traditional paradigm has to be expanded to 5 key areas: people, processes, policies, places, and tools/technology. Think of it as the who, what, where, and how work gets done.
For many telework initiatives, organizations are usually good at policies, places, and the tools associated with telework. That is, organizations create the rules that govern teleworkers, establish where people may work (i.e. working from home or remote locations), and the tools needed to support telework (from VPN to video applications). Yet, most organizations fail to look at their internal processes.
Why is a process approach important? All organizations are made up of processes – the series of steps or activities that produce desired outputs. Many of the commonly asked questions during a telework implementation, such as who should be eligible for telework, how should teleworkers be measured or what are the critical job requirements, can be answered if leaders better understand their own processes. Here are a couple of things leaders can do as they design their telework implementation:
- Identify current processes. Gather current process documentation – process maps, work procedures, etc. Is it current? Make sure it is up to date, detailed, and accurately reflects how work is done.
- Add additional information to process documentation. Overlay process maps with information about the people performing the process (i.e. what department/functional organization they are from, experience or level) and the tools used to complete process activities (this is good place to involve your IT partners to identify current IT architecture, systems, and tools).
- Identify process metrics. What are the metrics that measure the process performance? If none exist, then what metrics could/should be used?
- Identify the critical elements. What are the critical, value-added activities versus the activities that could be eliminated? Are there any restrictions, critical parameters, exceptions or special requirements?
If you can answer the questions above, you have a good foundation for your telework implementation. Understanding how things work and who does the work is critical before changing where the work gets done (if you have ever been part of an organization that has outsourced a broken process, you know exactly what I mean). In future posts I’ll talk about the next steps of using this information to begin planning for implementation and creating a change management plan.