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Strategy Spotlight: Breaking Down 4 Process Levels in Your Organization

Everything that happens in your organization and cuts across the levels of organization can be divided into ‘big buckets’ of things that the business does.

Chances are, you have some people in charge of those buckets. Often we see human resources, financial, information technology, and manufacturing processes being part of the list. But what if your organization has other things going on? You might have a whole research and development department that has processes that cut across the organization. If you missed these in the high-level identification of business processes, you might create a negative impact for the company by not representing all the true processes that exist.

There is an impact to understanding that all organizations can be broken down into at least a four-level process model like the maturity model discussed in an earlier blog (5 Business Processes to Your Evolutionary Success). However, there are other process level models that look at the business slightly differently.

Tari Kaupapa from the project office of Massey University outlined a Four Level Process in his paper on “Process Mapping; Process & Guide.” He used the following guidelines to understand and identify the different processes in the business organization:

Level One: is the standard high level and lists the operational levels of an organization.
Level Two: depicts the end-to-end processes across the operational areas.
Level Three: shows the roles and associated steps required to complete a specific process within an operational area.
Level Four: is the documentation of instructions and procedures required to complete steps in the level three processes.

Within this model, everything must link and connect. Failing to do so could have bottom line impacts, due to cost changes and productivity mishaps. It’s also important to know exactly which level of the organization we are dealing with and when. The candid discussion happens when you review your business process maturity levels at the same time as determining what process level from Kaupapa’s model you are at. The best bet is to pick your processes and then figure out with your team what process levels you’re at, which buckets they belong in, how they link together and where improvements need to be made.

Level 2 and 3 are the tactical levels in this model. You’ll need this level information, both for strategic conversation and also to bridge the gap between the strategic and the operational. Whatever happens, level 2 and 3 in your business should be categorized and be part of the level one items–those big buckets that have an impact on the entire organization.

Level 4 thinking is in the weeds and is not for the business leader. Still, it is often customer-facing and is, therefore, important for you to know and understand, especially around how it impacts to your business. Awareness is what is important here.

Every process in your business belongs somewhere. Whether it is about finding Kaizen opportunities (7 Wastes in Your Business), applying a business maturity model (5 Business Processes to Your Evolutionary Success) or evaluating your process levels. Often it comes down to how efficient and effective your business is within the common constraints of time, money and resources, and the need to cut costs while improving productivity.