Process thinking – the benefits when applied to design projects

The Web Design Process. You get the expected outcome if you stick to it.

The Web Design Process. You get the expected outcome if you stick to it.

It’s impossible to design a responsive, content-focused, mobile-first website the same way you’ve been creating websites for years without creating a plan for it – it’s impossible.

In another post I’ll talk about the basics around project processes and how they can be applied on a individualistic level – but in short the principles will be the same, you simply scale it – on a basic level.

Saying that, where it does all starts is in the mind.  Let’s be honest, if you haven’t put any real time into thinking about “how” you will complete a project or a task within your project, then your outcome will be as scatter brained and spontaneous as your urge to suddenly start working on the project.  Ultimately the organisation you work for will suffer.

Because there is no baseline, there is ‘no real way to document, evaluate and work in those ideas properly without getting lost throughout your project.

The biggest problem you’ll encounter is how overcome ‘getting lost’ in your project.  This happens all the time in many organisations, intentions are good (most of the time) ideas pop up and out midway through a project but because there is no baseline or project plan, there is ‘no real way to document, evaluate and work in those ideas properly without getting lost throughout your project.  Deadlines go out the window, milestones are lost in translation and no one is satisfied or happy, this includes the client and the colleagues on the team you work with.

So how can process thinking help?

UX Process

An illustration produced by Stephanie Sawchenko

User Centred Design

Otherwise known as “customer focused” by some.  It begins with really trying to understand the needs of the customer of that client that you are providing services to. Obtaining use cases is extremely important here. You can get great topology of what the clients market is, what band they may be in therefore giving you an idea of the clients markets behaviour.  That would only be reinforced by looking at the website statistics if applicable.

Quality and cycle time.

Core processes cut across functional boundaries. Improving these processes means improving within the functions, but it also means improving between functions. The cross-functional nature of process thinking brings new perspectives to old ways of doing business. Cross-functional and customer focused means decisions are made based on the needs of the customer, not the needs of the function.

Process thinking reduces costs

A process orientation allows you to take huge amounts of costs out of the system while still improving customer satisfaction. It keeps your eye on both objectives simultaneously.

Process thinking helps drive fear out of the organisation

The functional organisation encourages blame. If something fails, someone must be at fault. Process thinking means blaming the process, not the person. As quality expert Joseph Juran discovered in studies of a variety of companies in the early 1950s, only 20% of production-level problems could be controlled by workers. The other 80% were problems with the system. Process thinking focuses on the system, transforming a culture of blame into a culture of cooperative problem solving.

‘How can we improve on this process?’ Not ‘Who is to blame because this failed?’

Process thinking promotes creative, empowered employees

As an company gains control of its processes, it can free people to act creatively as long as their improvements respect the process and the organisation’s objectives. Clear objectives and well-managed processes keep people focused far better than the old command-and-control approach.

Process thinking supports strategic thinking and organisational design

Strategic thinking and organisational design help an organization become flexible enough to anticipate and respond to major change. Process thinking helps the company be agile enough to act quickly and decisively in new directions.

Process thinking helps optimize the entire organisation

Viewing an organisation as a collection of processes rather than as departmental silos is necessary to optimize the organisation as a whole. Processes are the relevant, and it can keep a logical framework for analysing the effectiveness of the entire company intact.

Process thinking – the benefits when applied to design projects can be immense, what it boils down to is whether the process is utilised enough for the organisation to gain the benefits.

Have you implemented this or any similar techniques in your projects? If so what were your outcomes?  Let me know!

1 Comment

  1. James Deacon says:

    Thanks for this Desi. This really helps. Currently in my organization we have a broken process and no one is quite sure on how to fix it. I think this will help me a lot understand where we may be going wrong.

    One question though, what would you do if a given organization decides not to improve it’s process?

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