Process-managed organizations are required to use process monitoring (process-oriented management approach is discussed here and monitoring basics here ). For this purpose, they use indicators that provide guidance to continual improvement and effective use of resources. Thanks to them, organizations gain information on whether they are moving in the chosen direction to implement their strategy, and thus whether they are taking the right actions.
Process monitoring – why do it?
To be able to make the right decisions in the area of quality management, it is necessary to have knowledge about the quality level of the objects that are the subject of the decision.
“A process can only be mastered if it can be measured.” 
Hence, process monitoring is one of the key success factors of the process approach . The analysis of the results of the process is used to :
- its evaluation,
- taking the necessary corrective and improvement actions that will help to increase the possibilities of the process,
- recording and controlling deviations,
- compare the results with external and internal references,
Process versus goals
Each process has a goal that determines the planned material or non-material result of the process.
The goals of the processes must come from the goals of the organization. This is crucial as the processes must be aligned with the company’s business strategy and customer requirements .
The formulation of goals can be done in two ways :
- keeping in mind the requirements and expectations of the entire process; they can be defined as the overall goals of the process,
- and / or goals may result from tasks carried out during the process; they can be defined as specific objectives of the process.
The goal may be related to manufacture a specific product, to collect relevant information, etc., but most of all, the most important goal in the process approach is to achieve customer satisfaction . Therefore, all efforts to design a process should start with an analysis of customer requirements .
Properly formulated goals are based on considering the context of the organization.
In the edition of ISO 9001: 2015, for the first time there is a requirement to define the context of the organization. It should be understood as: “a combination of internal and external factors that can influence an organization’s approach to setting and achieving its goals” .
What should the goals be?
For goals set up in the organization remember about the SMART principle:
- Specific – properly formulated, understandable to everyone and important for the company,
- Measurable – that is, formulated in such a way as to be able to numerically express the degree of goal achievement,
- Achievable – goals should be ambitious but realistic to achieve,
- Relevant – the goal should correspond to the strategic direction of the organization,
- Time-bound – the goal should have a specific time horizon in which it is intended to be achieved.
Process monitoring using indicators
Fundamental to process monitoring is the establishment of indicators . They are commonly known as “Key performance indicators” (KPIs).
Regarding standardized systems for compliance with ISO 9001: 2015, the measures will be measures reflecting at least effectiveness, while in the IATF 16949 standard for the automotive industry also the efficiency of (some) processes.
Effectiveness indicates the extent to which planned activities are implemented and planned results are achieved .
For example, for main processes, the measure of effectiveness may be the ratio of the number of defective products to the total number of products produced. The effectiveness of management processes should be related to the goals that the organization intends to achieve as a result of the decisions made.
Efficiency is the result of undertaken activities, described by the “relationship between the results achieved and the resources used” .
How many and what indicators should be established?
In addition to the measures of effectiveness and efficiency, it is worth defining additional indicators based on areas related to :
- quality: meeting the requirements and expectations by internal and external customers,
- profitability: described by the ratio of profits achieved to capital employed, profits achieved or sales volume,
- productivity: defined by the ratio of the number of products delivered by the system to the number of resources used to produce a product or service,
- quality of work life: regarding employees’ acceptance of working conditions, measured by their level of satisfaction,
- innovation: that is the ability of an organization to create new, more efficient and more functional products or services.
Nevertheless, one should not overdo the number of indicators established so that the processes can be easily managed.
How to define indicators for process monitoring?
The basis for establishing process indicators are:
- process attributes, because they constitute reference points for process improvement ,
- process goals that come from the goals of the organization.
One of the approaches of an outstanding specialist in process monitoring, David Parmenter , to define measures according to their type, scope and importance divides them into two main groups shown in the table below.
|Result (effectiveness) indicators||Result (effectiveness) indicators||Efficiency indicators||Efficiency indicators|
|Key result indicators – KRI||Result indicators – RI||Key performance indicators – KPI||Performance indicators – PI|
|They concern the general condition of the organization, resulting from the implementation of activities in many areas and a summary measure showing the degree of correlation with the organization’s strategy. Main target audience: top management.||They concern the activity of more than one area, show the effects of their cooperation, the way of achieving specific results, are considered in a wider time horizon and in a comprehensive perspective. Main target audience: department heads||They relate to the key aspects for the functioning of the enterprise. Main target audience: department heads.||They concern a specific area, department, etc., are not crucial for the functioning of the company and complement the KPI data. Main target audience: operational staff.|
According to the literature , the principle of 10/80/10 can be used. Where for an organization with more than 500 employees, about 10 should be key result indicators (KRI), about 80 should be assigned to result and performance indicators (RI, PI), and a maximum of 10 are key performance indicators (KPIs).
At the same time, it should be remembered that process objectives can be used to formulate metrics in various management aspects, e.g. quality management, productivity management, customer focus, environmental management and others.
Is the establishment of indicators enough?
Requirements are formulated regarding the indicators. This means that each of them, having its own goal, indicates the acceptance or lack of the achieved result of the process. If the goal is not achieved, corrective actions should be taken, ie. actions eliminating the cause of non-compliance and preventing its recurrence .
Hence, process owners should use the process monitoring results based on the metrics to be able to make decisions about the processes.
Monitoring a process without reacting to failure to meet its objectives can strain resources and lead to a lack of improvement in achieving better and better results .
Therefore, the organization should define actions in case of any deviations .
Process measurement only makes sense if the metrics are calculated based on process data that is preferably continuously collected as well as documented. This allows the trend to be used in process analysis.
Do not forget about the risk!
It is also important to recognize the risks when considering processes. According to ISO 9000, risk means “influence of uncertainty” . Therefore, a risk can be defined as a situation where the availability of individual process capabilities and their associated potential effects are known only with some estimated probability. Process analysis based on process measurement data is concerned only with the practices of identifying, documenting, and immediately responding to risks relevant to the organization in the process.
One should also not forget to inform employees about the results of the processes. People involved in the process, if they know its results, can react to its deviations when a problem occurs.
Why do organizations need to monitor processes?
I started this article with quote “A process can only be mastered if it can be measured” captures the essence of process monitoring. By establishing them in the organization, you gain, among others:
- feedback on actions taken,
- ability to make decisions based on facts,
- maintaining objectivity in decisions,
- involvement of responsible persons in achieving the results of their work.
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For people who want to know more:
Knowledge must have a solid foundation to avoid information noise. Therefore, the article was based on the following literature:
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 PN-EN ISO 9000:2016, Systemy zarządzania jakością. Podstawy i terminologia, Polski Komitet Normalizacyjny, Warszawa 2016, point 3.7.10, p. 26
 Kosierdzka, A., Zarządzanie produktywnością w przedsiębiorstwie, Warszawa 2012, C.H. Beck
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 PN-EN ISO 9000:2016, Systemy zarządzania jakością. Podstawy i terminologia, Polski Komitet Normalizacyjny, Warszawa 2016, point 3.7.9
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