Rigid processes: Slaves of Business Operations

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on April 27, 2011

Any business requires a lot of efforts and knowledge management to succeed in a competitive environment. Organisations pay a lot of attention to their financial scenario, marketing opportunities, handling human resources, improving product and service quality etc. But a pivotal part of management, which inevitably forms the backbone of the operations are the processes involved. Processes are guidelines, approaches and methods to perform various activities like manufacturing, warehousing, transporting, distributing etc in structured and systematic manner. But sometimes, over dependence or rigidity in performing operations can be a reason for concern and it can backfire, as employees merely become slaves of the system.

Bounded by Process

Processes in operations are defined guidelines while enable all the departments and employees to work simultaneously and systematically in achieving a common goal for the organization. Well defined processes give the employees a framework, by which they are bound, and improves the overall efficiency by channelizing their efforts towards the right direction. But in certain cases, processes may cause problems as employees may end up creating problems especially at customer facing touch points. Thus, it is necessary to have processes which are flexible and can be adjusted for the satisfaction of the customer or for improving the operations.


Processes should be defined by 'Dont's' and not 'Do's'. This would be beneficial as it would define the activities and processes which should not be performed. Strict discipline must be observed and punishment should be given in case of violations of these rules. But certain 'flexible rules' must also be incorporated to adjust to certain situations.


The most important factor in the service industry is giving priority to customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer would generally lead to improving business by a positive word of mouth but an unsatisfied customer can prove to be disastrous. Thus, for the satisfaction of customers, it is important for organisations to know when to introduced flexibility in their processes.


Let us consider a few examples. Consider a restaurant in the service industry, which has certain well defined operations and processes. The waiters and managers are trained and advised to follow them. But sometimes customers request certain simple things like adjusting air conditioning temporarily, adjusting seating arrangements, changing TV channels etc. As simple as these things seem, if these processes are flexible and adjusted, they improve the customer experience. However, if the employees and processes are rigid, it can make the customer frustrated. Thus, rigidity in processes must be reduced in operations so as to be responsive towards their customers.


Also, in the banking industry, banks define payment deadlines for customers. But if a customer, who has a good repayment record faces a genuine problem, then banks try to extend the deadline a little bit. If banks remain adamant on their processes, not only would there be a furore but the customer would also spread a bad word about them. Hence, banks show a little flexibility in adjusting their processes.


Rigid processes also exist within an organization. Organisations, who 'force' their employees to come and sit in offices without giving them quality work, face a problem of high attrition. Also, organisations which have a little flexibility processes like working from home, flexible working hours etc have a better loyalty from employees. Hence, workplace flexibility is also essential as absolute rigidity in processes is certainly not beneficial for business operations.


Processes are defined to have a systematic framework and certain guidelines, which would help employees, understand their roles, duties and responsibilities in performing the activities better. But sometimes when these processes become rigid, its hurts the company and the employees merely becomes slaves of the system.

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