Business processes frequently need to cater to extremely complex business situations. Well-designed processes, when combined with solid and well-defined business rules, help organizations streamline operational decision-making whilst ensuring consistent output.
However, we are living in a period of uncertainty and when the rubber hits the road, often we find very busy teams frantically trying to keep up with a seemingly endless workload. Adding to the mayhem, there may be significant backlogs and even client dissatisfaction.
In these types of cases, there may be an opportunity to streamline the process and save time and effort by introducing a triage step.
The triage concept originated during the Napoleonic Wars from the work of Dominique Jean Larrey, Surgeon in Chief to Napoleon’s Imperial Guard. In the Battle of Jena in 1806, between France and Prussia, the French army used Larrey’s system of triage and wounds were classified into 3 categories: dangerously wounded, less dangerously wounded and slightly wounded.
The triage system reduced soldier mortality and increased morale amongst those in the army, proving its effectiveness. This got me thinking about business and how this approach could help businesses under pressure by prioritizing tasks to achieve the best possible outcome.
A business triage is essentially an effective management process of dividing incoming work, crisis, or product issues and bugs by priority level so the highest priorities are handled first.
So how do we apply an effective business triage?
- Create a list of all the tasks, strategic initiatives and moves you have to implement, as well as the key assumptions you need to validate and the strategic questions you need to answer.
- For each of the items on your list, assign the items based on priority by asking yourself:
– Does it impact the organization as a whole or only parts of it?
– Is the item business critical, in other words, does it concern the short or long term survival of your organization?
– Is it critical to your business?
– Does it concern the entire organization or only certain parts of it?
- Think about whether a task can be completed using the standard procedures and processes of your organization, or whether it requires activities and initiatives outside of your established processes.
Don’t hold up or delay cases that don’t need a high level of processing or scrutiny. It can help reduce workload, backlogs, cost and if done well, can increase client satisfaction.
Activities which can be handled using established processes should be delegated and those which require a different approach deserve extra management attention and should not be delegated. Hence, they have a higher priority.
The key to success is understanding the variation in demand and building the right processes to ensure the objectives are achieved. Some other ideas for your business triage might involve working on an end-to-end process – like all the steps from receiving a bug report of a product or handling a PR crisis that requires outsourcing.
In each case, all of the actions are mapped out and employees can identify the work necessary for each step. If your organization struggles with a sudden influx of demands or issues, take a look at the concept of triage.