A repeatable process…. Nirvana in the operations world! The sun shines, the stars align and we update the SOP document.
But wait!! I discovered a challenge to the repeatable process concept… a reproducible process.
- When a task is “repeatable”, we can give it to an individual, and they will perform it consistently, over an extended period.
However, the concept of repeatability does not necessarily consider the complexity of the tasks, the number of employees repeating the process and the outcome or result of the process.
- So…when a task is “reproducible”, we can give it to a group of individuals and they will perform it consistently, over an extended period, with the same outcomes that meet the department standard.
In the business world, we need both repeatable and reproducible processes. It varies depending on the importance and complexity of the task.
Here is an example …..
My husband and I recently decided buy a new mattress and box spring. We looked online, were overwhelmed by the number of options and then decided to go to a local furniture chain with a team of “sleep consultants”.
When we entered the store, a smiling employee greeted us with, “Welcome to Jordan’s Furniture. Can I help you find something today?” We said “mattresses” and he directed us to the mattresses department.
When we entered the mattress department, we were greeted again, this time by one of the “Sleep Consultants’. She asked us a series of questions, gave us a computerized sleep pressure test, then recommended three options, but said, “I recommend X, because it meets both of your sleeping needs”. There were some other steps in the process, but ultimately we purchased X, the bed she recommended.
This is a great example of a complex process, with multiple steps and if reproduced, it can lead to the desired outcome – selling a bed. Had the consultant not sounded confident, not followed the order of steps and not recommended X, it would have led to a different outcome.
Greeting customers only needs a repeatable process, while selling a mattress requires a reproducible process.
So…The devil is in the details.
A reproducible task or process needs more documentation, more details and more specificity around the desired outcomes and standards of the task. “If you do A, B, C and D, in this order, with this tone of voice, with these key words, we expect it to result in outcome X.” A reproducible process likely needs more training and it will take longer for employees to become fully proficient.
A repeatable task needs less documentation, less training and the outcome is less important, in the scheme of things. “Do A and B.”
Looking at your organization, have you taken the time to differentiate your repeatable and reproducible tasks? Have you effectively prepared your employees to achieve your desired outcomes?