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If Process Management and Project Management Teams Combined

Alenka Aust

Anyone involved in project management and working in production knows how the game is played. Processes are often changed faster than they’re documented. The result is often that they are not noted at all or that the time pressure is far too great to do so. Then the information is outdated, or the processes documented no longer exist. Process management thus lags behind project management. How can this be improved, and what needs to be changed? First let’s take a look at the challenges facing the industry.

Trends in project and process management for Industry 4.0

It’s no secret that the challenges in project and process management have increased in recent years. Every year, new trends for Industry 4.0 are published. For 2021, for example, AI projects in the form of fitness trackers and other smart assistants are big trends. The manufacturing industry has just started to think seriously about the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI). But the production lines of the future will rely heavily on AI, especially in the areas of predictive maintenance or manufacturing process optimization. The merging of the production floor and the office.  Programs running on industrial controllers, edge devices and cloud systems will work even more closely with apps and dashboards, merging the shop floor and office more closely.

But this evolution also means that there will be more opportunities for engineers with domain knowledge in the future. That means engineers who can combine their specialized knowledge with expertise in technologies and tools will be needed. This is a challenge for companies that do not want to miss the train for Industry 4.0, and it’s a stress factor for all process participants to keep up with these rapid developments. What tends should fall by the wayside is the day-to-day business of process management? A step-motherly treatment that has far-reaching consequences.

Neglect of process management and its consequences

The neglect of process documentation in day-to-day running of business can be easily seen in the target processes. Often, the resources and/or expertise to carry out the documentation lacks in the regular daily business because they’re tied up in major projects. Or, unfortunately, it’s simply quite banal, the information is not important enough. The colleagues know their processes. Process descriptions or other documents, feedback requests are superfluous. Or so they think. A carefully documented as-is situation is essential for projects. This is the basis for project and process design. If the documentation of the as-is situation is missing, the point will come when it has to be analyzed at great expense.

Every project starts from scratch when people with the right expertise have to be found for a new project and processes have to be re-established and coordinated. This results in an unnecessarily long project time and unnecessary costs or, in other words, a high effort for processes that are to be changed anyway. The documentation of the “basic set” therefore saves time and money.

It must therefore be possible to improve the tightrope act between daily running of business and project management to such an extent and to make it pleasant so that the task of documentation and its benefits in process management, such as transparency, are not lost.

Reduce administrative effort

There are a variety of factors that cause an important process to be neglected. The main reason is the administrative efforts involved are so high and take too long. If you’re in project management, you know how long it can take to approve a process model. The content checks, the feedback, the renewed check up to the final release with the involvement of all participants can easily take 2 – 3 months. Much too long and too tedious. In practice, process management often works differently than expected and planned, and is very likely to lead to frustration among all parties involved.

In addition, there is a long list of outdated and obsolete processes and the conviction that process management is useless. So, it’s time to learn a few tips from project management and form a team.

Merging project and process management

A natural approach to project management is often to define a well-established process. In doing so, the existing processes or actual situations are often disregarded. Only later does it become apparent that dependencies, interfaces, specifications or overlaps in scheduling have not been taken into account. And this is the moment when costs arise due to rework or time delays. The overall context is lost. Who does what, when and with whom? These questions can no longer be answered unambiguously. At some point, capacities and resources can no longer be planned efficiently. This is where a fusion of project and process management must emerge.

Resources, bottlenecks and capacities must be clearly presented with the involvement of all participants. Risk scenarios based on experience and process documentation must be included. The software industry is already further along in this respect. Especially software companies that have specialized in the engineer-to-order niches offer these one-stop-shop solutions. All necessary steps leading to the achievement of a project goal can be brought together here in a single place. The result is the perfect fusion of process and project with better and faster results for all parties involved. Modern project and process management leads to fast results and learning. This makes not only management and project owners happy, but also all other project participants.