5 signs that your process is broken

Kat Birett
Marketing Manager

LinkedIn Profile

How do you know if you and your team have strayed off course? Maybe you’re not working as efficiently or effectively as you could be? Or unsure how time and resources are getting eaten up? 

Keeping an eye out for clues that your process isn’t working as well as it should, will save you valuable time and money. Here are 5 signs to look out for: 

1. Not meeting deadlines
A dead giveaway is when tasks are not getting completed on time. We’ve heard all the excuses, most commonly being poor estimation of time and resources. There are flow-on effects to not meeting deadlines. You could risk burnout, stress and anxiety for you and your teammates due to disorganised processes.  

Sometimes, it’s as simple as not having the tools to complete the process efficiently. Ask those involved in the process delivery if they have what they need to execute the tasks at hand. Is there any room for improvement?  

Missing deadlines, pushing them back further, or people trying to shift accountability, are all red flags to review your process. 

2. Little or no alignment
A lack of structure and process consistency, can create barriers for plans to optimise your process. The aim is to have everyone working harmoniously and in the same direction. Ask yourself, what is the ultimate outcome? What are we supposed to be working towards?  

Here’s the crucial step. Agree on how you’re going to achieve that vision. A structured format delivered in a way that it’s easy to understand is incredibly important. Alignment is all about understanding how it fits into other plans (are there interrelated processes?) and why this activity helps.  

Ongoing revisions are required to revisit the procedures in place for process management. Schedule time to double check your process design, methods of communication and review the buy-in from process stakeholders. 

3. Reoccuring blockages
These could be bottlenecks that slow down a process or even a common element that stops your process dead in its tracks. Ask yourself, is there a department that’s responsible for this? Is it a particular person? We’re not talking about something that occurs once-off. Is there a pattern of behaviour that impacts your process? If you know that it will take longer, or there are obstacles in the way, then this is the time to review your process and account for its impact (be it time or resources). You now have datapoints and recurring activity that can help you make decisions to: 

Avoid it completely 
Educate and inform others of the process, ensure there's no confusion
Look for alternative options

4. Lots of questions
If your business process isn’t documented correctly, it can cause confusion, business risks, unhappy customers, and unexpected outcomes. Process documentation should check of the following elements: 

Who is involved?
What do you need?
What is the process outcome?
Who is responsible for each activity?

If you are the recipient of lots of questions, schedule some time to check that your documentation is clear and understood by all stakeholders. If the same questions creep up time and time again, this may help zero-in on the problem area. 

5. Constructive criticism
No one wants to hear that there are major flaws in their process documentation, however, it’s critical to successful business operations. Don’t ignore constructive criticism about your process, as it may highlight opportunities for change. Perhaps there are missing steps, duplication of effort, or inconsistencies in how the process is executed. 

Listen to this feedback. Ask questions, confirm changes, get process buy-in from key stakeholders. It may be tough to hear, but it’s better to know that your process is not working earlier on in the piece. When someone gives you constructive criticism, try not to take it personally, and thank them for their input. After all, we want alignment, efficiency, and movement in the right direction.  

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