Friday, January 14, 2005

Input --> process --> output

The Manila Times
Business Times p.B1
Thursday, January 14, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Input --> process --> output

I.P.O. Remember that theorem?

The third perspective in a Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is Internal Process. It is the body of activities and actions that enables you to transform whatever it is that you put into your business into whatever you want to get out of your business and whatever you want your business to go and to be (vision, mission and strategic goals). Your inputs will be money, knowledge, skills, machine, method, technology, material, information, dreams, vision, mission, strategic goals, values, customer needs and preferences, regulatory requirements and others. And your desired output is the realization of your dreams, vision, mission and strategic goals.

What you input is what you get? Garbage in, garbage out?

Yes and no depending on your process.

J. Mike Jacka and Paulette J. Keller gave the example of the process of making breakfast in their book, Business Process Mapping: improving customer satisfaction.

“The input is the ingredient that go into making breakfast, e.g. eggs, milk, coffee, bread, butter, bacon, plates, utensils and pans. These ingredients go through a transition we call making breakfast. The output is the finished breakfast—scrambled eggs, toast, crisp bacon and freshly brewed coffee or hot milk. [This is not a particularly healthy breakfast].”

“The process of making breakfast is probably best understood based on the stages of the process.

These stages might be preparing the ingredients, cooking the ingredients and serving the final product. The input for cooking the ingredients is the prepared foods [the output from the prior process of preparing the ingredients], the transformation is the application of heat and other stimuli to the prepared food, and the output—edible food—becomes the input for the final process, serving the final product.”

“Any process must add value to be a true transformation. In this instance, value is added by taking raw food and making it edible.”

Yet, there are bits of action we did during the preparation that spelled the difference among a good breakfast, a scrumptious breakfast and an ordinary breakfast. For example, if we overcook the bacon, it will be seared, instead of crisp. If we undercook the eggs, you’ll have raw, soggy scrambled eggs. If you simply boiled the coffee bean powder in a kettle, instead brewing it in a coffee maker, you’ll have very strong coffee and might need more milk and sugar to temper it.

As they say, it is not only the size and amount of your input, it is also the quality of your process that determines the output.

Let’s take a look at some of the common processes employed by business.
• Plan
• Organize
• Lead
• Control
• Hire people
• Develop people
• Fire people
• Reward people
• Order materials
• Receive materials
• Return materials
• Move materials
• Store materials
• Pay for materials
• Cut cost
• Produce products and services
• Continuously improve processes
• Deliver products and services
• Enhance quality of products and services
• Etc.

Again, naming the process is just one decision. Actually doing the process to produce desired results is what makes the difference between customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction and that is what a BSC measures. The integrity of the process is always suspect and must be protected.

(Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp., facilitates the processes in planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Her e-mail addy is

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