The Factory Process is that set of activities that define the essence of the business in which the Enterprise is engaged. It is the path most transactions and activities should travel.
Since this is the path taken by most of the business’ activity, it should be created as a highly automated, well-oiled machine. It is the process where the transactions have the highest velocity. It is the process with the lowest costs per transaction. These factors require that the Factory Process be protected at all costs. This protection is provided by the Safeguard processes. We’ll discuss those in a later post.
If the Factory Process is working correctly, there will be few, if any, exceptions. But exceptions will arise for many reasons, some preventable, some not. Those that are not preventable will flow into the predefined Exception Processes. Costs go up significantly when these Exception Processes are employed mostly due to the need for manual intervention. We’ll investigate these issues in another post.
What about those exceptions that arise even though they were preventable? These are generally caused by human error somewhere in the process. It may be a worker on the line (whatever the line may be in the Factory Process) who is performing their duties incorrectly. It may be a defect in the computer program that automates one of the Factory activities. Such a defect points to human error in the development, testing, or deployment of that program.
The Factory Process needs two attributes to combat these exceptions. These are a Feedback Loop and Good Supervision.
A Feedback Loop provides information about the the process. This feedback should be descriptive and as close to real time as possible. The description would ideally provide the outcome of an individual process step for an individual item or transaction matched against a list of expected outcomes. These expected outcomes would be those outcomes that can continue to be handled by the Factory Process. The near real-time nature of the Feedback Loop means that these outcomes are available to managers who can adjust the process as soon after the transaction step was completed as possible and that it is presented in a way that makes anomalies easy to spot. Most people think of dashboards and the metaphorical presentations used by them.
Nothing beats good supervision when combating problems in the process. Supervisors are the absolute front fine of management and should not only know what a process does but also why it does it that way. Having spotted a high level of exceptions originating from the area they supervise, the Supervisor should work to find the cause and escalate to find a remedy. Supervisors should be rated based on their ability to minimize the number of preventable exceptions incurred under their spans of control.