We could state that processes are continuously present in our lives. For example, we can buy fruits and sugar (inputs) in order to bake them and offer a cake (output). In that same way, companies purchase raw materials, transform and finally deliver them to their clients. Or the personal department receives curriculums (inputs), runs interviews and finally welcomes a new employee (output). Directives may organize a meeting for gathering ideas (inputs), revise them and finally release the yearly strategic plan. And in this way, businesses run a big amount of processes in all areas (production, sales, personal, information systems, communications, etc.), maybe without even knowing it.
Despite of this, many companies still stick to the traditional view of “departments”, not “processes” when it comes to management. For example, they assign a department focused exclusively on selling clothes, whereas another department for just purchasing cotton. The result: the sales’ department complains that products do not arrive on time; the purchasing department complains that sellers make unrealistic enquiries. And they both complain that people in charge of production do not react quickly when there is an important last minute deal. Thus, they don’t see the whole process; they only focus on their department. The general manager knows this, and he/she gets the job of fixing problems between employees.
What would happen if the company designates a person in charge of the “process of t-shirts”? this person would be accountable for facilitating the communication between the purchasing, production and selling area towards “providing good clothes for our customer”, instead of solving functional requirements, like “get cheap suppliers”, “sell more to the same customers”, etc. This is what we call business process management, which offers clear advantages for companies applying this approach, for example:
Recently the World Bank released a new study indicating that Latin America has not yet won the productivity battle, which would allow entering a virtuous circle of stronger public sectors, higher growth and opportunities for all. We can generate this trend and foster competitiveness if we put business processes and not just the classical departments on the center of decision making. North America, Europe and Asia are actively doing this since the late 90s, we need to put it on our agenda as well.