What is Process: Summary - long

Subject: What is Process: Summary - long
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 11:45:01 -0800 (PST)

Due to _POPULAR_ demand, I'm just posting this on the list.

Reply Population:
Most of the responces came from people who could be called process management consultants: people whose jobs it was to research, document, establish and/or fix processes.

How do you define process:
Most of the responces began with a definition that read something like "Processes are the actions we take to attain specific goals." This definition was more or less complex and cited several different sources for the definition, including dictionaries. In the context of technical writing, some defined a process as the actions the department or individual takes to design, produce and deliver documentation.

Some people also introduced the notion of formal and informal processes (or alternately referred to as work/external and personal/internal proceses). Formal/work/external processes are actions established by the workplace that workers are expected to follow. Informal/personal/internal processes are actions an individual takes.
(This is an important distinction because the Got Process? thread was flip-flopping between these two kinds of processes, only confusing the issue.)

Many of the definitions included caveats. The following is a short list of what I think were some of the more interesting/important ones:

* The smaller the company, the looser the process. The larger the company, the tighter the process. (Essentially: as companies grow in size, processes become more important. Why? Because there are more people working on the same thing and mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that everything is done consistenly, expertly and effeciently.)

* Processes are not the end-all answer, but just another means to an end.

* Processes should evolve.

What should process accomplish:
Answers to this were pretty straight forward. A process should help to accomplish a specfic goal efficiently. If a process doesn't do that, it's time to evaluate the process and change it.

Thanks to all of those who replied. I hope all of those who requested this info found it helpful.

Sean Hower

technical writer

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