What is a process inventory? Why does it matter? At first glance, it may just seem like a long list of processes – and that is essentially what it is. However, this document is critical as it tracks and connects the multiple activities that are performed to run an organisation. Within a bank, this could be for a function, department or across divisions, giving a full front-to-back view of individual and interconnected processes. It plays a key role throughout a project lifecycle as it highlights the criticality of each process, documents who is accountable for each activity, and how they rely on other parts of the organisation to operate effectively. Project and programme managers should be using this document to understand the upstream and downstream impact of implementing any particular changes. Below are four core areas where project or programme managers should leverage a process inventory to ensure successful project delivery.
- Recording changes to current state
Starting with, perhaps, the most obvious – a process inventory can ensure that any changes to the current process are recorded in one place. This means that any steps in a process that change, regardless of the reason (regulatory compliance / process efficiencies), are documented. If part of the business is moving to a new legal entity or a new location, the inventory is the place to record it. If a process is simply changing owners, the inventory can ensure all names are up-to-date. Having a master document like this means that it is easily accessible from an audit and regulatory perspective.
- System and application inventory
People use systems and applications to perform activities and tasks. When you consider the number of roles, functions, products, and entities involved in supporting an organisation it is no surprise that IT networks become very complex and extensive. But people and IT are connected via processes and the process inventory can record the primary systems performing in each task. This is important so that any relevant systems can be developed to include, for example, a new entity or code to support the change. Information Security can also use this list of primary systems to ensure all users have appropriate access entitlements to perform their particular activity.
- Management and control of testing
As a change project progresses, it will reach a testing phase. Testing ensures the change being made is successfully deployed in line with requirements, and also will not negatively impact parts of the process that are not changing. Due to the number of processes, funding, timeframes or other constraints, it may not be possible to test everything. The process inventory can be used to understand what proportion of processes should be or have been tested. Management can then decide whether sufficient testing has occurred or whether timelines need to be adjusted to cater for more tests.
- Monitoring and maintaining procedures
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) are critical documents, needed both internally and externally. Internally, a procedural document outlines the steps a user should take to perform a certain process. Typically, SOP’s will include screenshots of each task, ensuring smooth transition of new resources being trained on the process or existing users being trained on new processes. Externally, regulations require that formal, signed-off documents be in place for each process. This evidences that the organisation is transparent and understands all processes that are performed. This is especially important for activities which are outsourced to remote locations or third party providers. Details from the process inventory can simply be extracted and made into individual documents to facilitate this.
Overall, having a process inventory in place is invaluable for effective project and programme management throughout the lifecycle of a change project to ensure successful delivery. Creating a process inventory is not a once in time exercise but needs to be continuously updated to reflect adjustments to processes as changes are being implemented. Updating the process inventory should be a specific project deliverable. Moreover, a process inventory is not only critical during the change planning phase but it can also be used in the future once the project has ended, by both the users performing the new process and also as the baseline for future projects.