Managerial Process Control


Managerial Process Control

A process is broadly defined as an operation that uses resources to transform inputs into outputs. It is the resource that provides the needed energy to the process for the transformation to occur. In an organization there are two types of processes. One are those processes that create, produce, and delivers products and services while the second type of processes are those which do not produce outputs bur are still necessary in the functioning of the organization. The first group of the processes can be called work processes while the second type of the processes can be called administrative processes. Both the types of the processes are important for the functioning of the organization and need adequate process control activities for their successful implementation.

In process control, two types of variable exist. They are manipulated variables which can be adjusted and the controlled variables which are affected by the adjustments. Process control is an important function of the management of an organization. Through process control it is ensured that the activities are under control and are giving the desired results. Process control determines that all the management processes are controllable processes that behave in a predictable manner. It shows that for a given change in the manipulated variable, the process variable responds in a predictable and consistent manner.

Process control refers to the methods that are employed for controlling the variables of the management process. It is the control process through which managers assure that actual activities conform to the planned activities. Process control finds out the deviations between the actual performance and the standard performance for taking the necessary steps to prevent such variances in future. It also measures the current performance and guides it towards some predetermined objectives. It envisages a system that not only provides a historical record of what has happened to the process as a whole but also pinpoints the reasons why it has happened and provides data that enable the manager to take corrective steps, if he finds that something has gone wrong.

Essential steps in the process control

Process control involves following four basic but essential steps.

  • First step is the establishment of the targeted parameters for the process. Every process which is to be controlled needs to have standards or parameters against which the process performance is to be measured. These parameters are to be clear and intelligible and are to be defined in precise quantitative terms and not in general terms. These parameters are to be flexible which can be adjusted in case there is a change in the process environmental conditions. The parameters are to be realistic and workable and are to be well understood by the persons involved in the process.
  • Second step consists of the measurement of actual performance of the process. Measurement of performance can be done by visual observation, by monitoring reports, through charts and statements. Measurements are to be accurate since without accurate measurement correct evaluation of the process cannot be done. Measurement during the process control activities is to be organized in such a way so that there is a quick comparison of the measurement data with the targeted parameters is feasible.
  • Third step consists of the comparison of the results of the measured data with the targeted parameters. The comparison of the actual performance with the targeted performance establishes the need of corrective action. While comparing the actual performance with the parameters fixed, the manager has to find out not only the extent of variations but also the causes of variations. This is necessary, because some of the variations may be unimportant, while others may be important and need immediate corrective action by the manager.
  • The fourth step consists of taking of the corrective measures for keeping the process under control. Corrective actions are taken to correct the deviations found when the actual performance is compared with the targeted parameters. For this it is necessary to determine the correct cause for deviation. Both internal and external factors need to be examined for the cause of deviations. In case there are some external factors where corrective actions cannot be applied then the targeted parameters will need revision.

These four essential steps in process control are shown in Fig 1

Four steps of process control

Fig 1 Four essential steps in process control

 Normally there are three types of control actions while managing the processes in an organization. These are given below.

  • Pre control or feed forward control – These control actions are provided in the processes based on the deviations emerged during comparison of the results and targeted parameters of similar processes within the organization or in any other organization. These controls are exercised based on experience and are aimed at to prevent anticipated problems.
  • Mid process control or concurrent control – These are the process control corrective actions which are taken midway of a process based on the underperformance noticed during the process measurement
  • Feed back control – This refers to the process control actions based on the comparison data of the measurements of the process parameters and targeted parameters after the process is completed. These corrective actions are applied while planning future similar process in the organization

Essentials of effective process control

 The following points are the essential points for process control activity to succeed in an organization.

  • The systems of the organization must have a control system that is suitable to meet the nature and needs of the processes of the organization.  The organization structure should allow accurate measurement of the process parameters and its analysis. Further proper recordkeeping and its accessibility to the process owners should be part of the organization systems. Further employees are properly trained in all the aspects of the process control.
  • Process control reports should be directed more towards measures to be taken for the future processes. This gives managers opportunity for proper planning of the processes and thus improving the performance of the organization.
  • Process control activity should lead to corrective action. An adequate process control activity discloses where failure is occurring, who is responsible to them and what should be done about them. Process control activity should generate the solution to the problem responsible for deviations from the targeted parameters.
  • A good process control system not only points out the deviations but also pinpoints where they are important or strategic to the organization.
  • A sound process control system is workable even when there is change in the environment in which the organization operates.
  • In designing a process control system or strategies, the dynamic behaviour of the process is very important. Hence knowledge of process dynamics is an important issue.