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Dear Workforce How Could We Determine Whether We Are Getting Optimum Effectiveness From Our HR Processes?

What are the qualities of a good HR practice? We have various processes—for example, for vacancy management, talent management, absence management, etc.—but we aren't always certain whether our processes are running optimally. What are the steps to making an assessment?
July 10, 2009
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Related Topics: The HR Profession, Workforce Planning, Dear Workforce
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Dear Making Practices Perfect:
Let's start with a definition: A process is a recurring set of activities, events, steps or tasks that results in a desired outcome. To determine the qualities of a "good" process, you must determine two basic things:
  1. If the process meets the requirements of the customer(s) that it serves, and ...
  2. If it does so in an optimal way.
To clarify a little, the answer to the first question determines whether the process is effective, and the second question gauges its efficiency and quality. For example: Reducing the cost or time to process a benefits claim would be a measure of efficiency—and quality may be the accuracy of the process, or even the experience of the customer. You could successfully process a benefit claim with a process that is slow, but in which the customer's experience is bad. By striving for optimal performance of a process, we are striving for a balance between efficiency and quality, and not sacrificing one for the other, if possible.
The only way to gauge these elements is to properly measure them—and you must truly understand a process before you can effectively apply metrics to it.
If you want to dig into your processes, document them and attempt to refine and improve them, there are several tools that you can use to do this, including:
  • SIPOC diagrams, which are graphical tools that can help in understanding the key elements of a process. SIPOC identifies the Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers of a process.
  • Flowcharts that can visually identify the steps used in a process.
  • Process maps that can visually represent the process beyond the steps in a flowchart to illustrate things such as timing, responsibilities and requirements.
Through the use of these tools you can increase your understanding of your processes and take steps to effectively measure and improve them.
To summarize:
  • It cannot be a good process if it doesn't satisfy its customer. Once that is accomplished, any efforts to improve and optimize a process must still keep the customer in mind and balance efficiency and quality.
  • You cannot effectively measure and improve a process until you have a clear understanding of it and its elements.
  • A SIPOC diagram will help you establish who and what are involved in a process.
  • A flowchart will show what happens in a process.
  • A process map can show what happens and also establish who does what and when in addition to how and where the different elements fit into the whole process.
With these tools you will be on your way to improvement.
SOURCE: Scott Weston, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of HR Excellence: Improving Service Quality and Return on Investment in Human Resources, San Francisco, May 8, 2007
LEARN MORE: Rather than myopically focusing on processes, HR professionals should set aside time to envision their strategic roles.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.


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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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