Getting Things Done with Process Design

In this article we consider how to design better processes (such as business processes) and contemplate alternatives to a business process that will achieve certain criteria. Process design is a way to examine business (and personal) processes for efficiency and effectiveness. It’s a way to get things done.

Process design is something that not enough people engage in, because of the day-to-day work that needs to happen to make the current process continue to function.

Sometimes, we get tunnel vision and need a different getting things done process design, or perhaps we need to make the current process even more efficient. Whatever the case, designing better processes requires reflecting on existing business processes and coming up with improvements.

When you work on a project, you can break it down into steps. Let’s take the example of writing an article. You would break that down into three steps.

  • Step number one is researching the information and facts and statistics for the article.
  • Step number two is creating a first draft.
  • And the third step is reviewing and refining that draft.

Process Design Example

Now let’s try a different approach to writing an article.

  • We could do a little bit of research and then write a paragraph.
  • Then we can do a bit more research and write the next paragraph.
  • And then, we can go back and revise the first paragraph.

In the first process for writing an article we have the three steps of researching, writing and revising. Now in this second process for writing an article, we have an iterative loop of researching, writing and revising. Each step in the second process is each individual paragraph with the final step being the completion of the article.

Now, which process is more efficient? Which process is better designed? Well, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

Process Design to Get Things Done at Scale

If you’re trying to achieve scale, and have the resources to hire a team the first process design is better. You could have, let’s say, five researchers conducting research for many articles, and a whole newsroom of writers putting the facts together into many articles.

Then you can have a few editorial staff to help edit and revise and refine the articles before publishing. It may take a bit longer to write the article but the trade-off is worth it. You will have multiple articles ready.

Process Design to Get Things Done Quickly

If you’re trying to publish your article quickly, the second process is better. In this process you write a good first paragraph with great research and publish it. Then you can add more information and refine the article further. Most news sites and blogs do this in order to deliver breaking news fast.

I used writing an article as an example but designing a better process can apply to web development teams.

For instance, the idea of a full stack developer who can write both frontend and backend code has gained popularity. On top of that they’re expected to be web designers. However, this can be inefficient for larger teams, where specialization leads to more in-depth knowledge and possibly faster development.

Questions to Ask for Better Process Design

If you want to be a high performer in your field, you have to optimize your processes.

Think about your business and personal life. What processes are you using to get things done? Choose one and try to design a better, more effective and maybe more enjoyable process.

  • Is there a way to make whatever process you’re optimizing more efficient or less stressful?
  • Is there a way to split up that process so that it can be delegated to others so you can scale up?
  • Is there a way to batch many small tasks that are part of the process so you can maximize your time?

Think about these questions and take a bit of time to examine and improve your processes to get more things done.