People, Processes, and Performance Tools pt. 1 Print
Written by Steven Peel   
Thursday, 18 September 2008

Over the last year, the Information and Communications Systems Department (ICS) for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has implemented a new process improvement team to assist with process improvements to help facilitate program management. The mission of the Business Process Improvement Team is to improve organizational performance throughout the Church. The tools used in accomplishing this mission are proven tools established over the last 40 years by organizations such as Toyota, Motorola, GE Capital, and Allied Signal. These organizations have introduced and proven tools such as Lean, Six Sigma, Process Reengineering, and Program Management.

Our process improvement team has drawn on this proven body of knowledge and established a methodology with specific process improvement steps to bring about sustainable process improvements throughout the Church and to facilitate program management in the ICS Department. Our team utilizes a six-phase process to achieve this, which include:

    1.  Defining
    2.  Measuring
    3.  Analyzing
    4.  Improving
    5.  Implementing
    6.  Sustaining

Following this six-phase process is essential to identifying whether the needed improvements require people, process, or tool improvements—or a combination of these three.

The ICS Department has a specific focus on implementing improvements through developing performance tools that include technology solutions essential for the Church to perform its mission of bringing souls to Christ. It is important to note that not all challenges require technology solutions. Sometimes the problem is a people or process issue. Being able to differentiate between people, process, and tool solutions is essential to effectively improving organizational performance. Why is this important? It is important because technology solutions may be substantially marginalized if people and process issues are not effectively identified and improved.

People Issues

People issues are human resource-driven challenges. Examples of these include:

  • Availability of the right people in balanced proportions
  • Training
  • Clarification of roles and responsibilities
  • Correlating authority and responsibility
  • Effective management oversight
  • Accountability for responsibilities

Process Issues

Examples of process issues include:

  • Cycle time reduction
  • Queue time reduction
  • Excessive process handoffs
  • Value-added vs. non value-added process steps
  • Gaps between customer requirements and process performance
  • Lack of standard operating procedures (SOP’s)
  • Work area layout inefficiencies
  • Visual process management
  • Lack of process measures

Tool Issues

Providing and supporting tool solutions are at the heart of what the ICS Department does. Some examples of these solutions provided by the ICS Department are,, and Decision Point (meeting management).

Looking at each area (people, process, and tool) is essential to process improvements. All three are critical for effective organizational performance. An effective analogy is to compare these three core areas of performance to a three-legged stool. On a stool, if any of the three legs is missing, or if they are at different lengths, the stool will not perform as expected. It may even be unusable. The same is true with these three core areas for improvements. If all three areas are not identified and addressed in a balanced way, chances are that improvements will be marginalized or overall performance may be reduced.

Within the ICS Department, there is a process to manage technology projects known as PTS. Within PTS, there are specific steps of phases to project management. These steps are:

    1.  Identify
    2.  Explore
    3.  Plan
    4.  Create
    5.  Implement

The process improvement team is designed to be heavily involved at the “identify” stage of the PTS process. This is when we walk through the improvement process. During this phase we determine whether the process is efficient, whether issues have been resolved, and if a technology solution is required.

These processes ensure that every angle is considered to make real improvements to Church processes. Watch for a follow-up on this piece detailing how this process is being used to improve Family and Church History records management at the Church today.

Steven Peel is a Business Process Manager for the Church.