Productivity

Process Adherence: How to Make Teams Follow Your Processes — & More!

What do you do when no one seems to follow your processes? Learn why process adherence is important for teams and how to make people follow processes. 

Introduction

Is process adherence a problem with your teams? Well, it is in many organizations. 

Yet, process adherence is the beginning of work efficiency.  

For example, you've been through this situation before: 

Employees know what to do because you've communicated the procedure, explained the steps and even provided a standard operating procedure (SOPs) document. But they don't follow the steps as required and your process isn't done right.  

Such a scenario created inefficiency and delayed work completion, which affects business operations and efficiency. 

So, what do you do when no one seems to follow your processes? 

In this article, we'll show you why people are not following your processes and what you should do to get the team to follow processes and make process adherence a company culture.

What is process adherence?

Process adherence is when a person or team clearly understands an assigned process's goals, propose and scope, how to follow the process and obtain expected results. 

This means executing a process using the defined standards even when you can do it through alternative approaches to achieve the same result.

Processes are an organization's standard operating procedures or practices (SOPs) they use to do things consistently. With better process adherence, the business is more efficient and work gets done efficiently.

The team or individual is expected to comply with the process' requirements when performing the process to deliver process success and desired outcomes. 

Why do businesses need process adherence?

Process adherence results in process compliance. It instills discipline and control in teams and staff to keep them on track and follow the businesses' optimized standard operating procedures. 

Business processes are a company's links connecting its various job elements for efficiency and effective delivery. And they are important because they:

  • Outline best and standard operating practices or process standardization.
  • Enable thorough training and onboarding. 
  • Keep teams compliant.
  • Maintain organizational knowledge. 

Without process adherence integrity, the business will suffer inefficiency and even Lean practices may deteriorate over time. 

Process adherence is part of how a team can adhere to policy. So, a process adherence culture nurtures and sustains the business’ operational process, continuously aligning team activities to the organization's core objectives.

Why teams do not follow processes 

Ever wondered why anyone isn't following your process? 

First, process adherence is a matter of process management to help teams or staff reach process compliance. This means making teams understand a process and why they should follow it to reach results. 

In an ideal work situation, everyone understands the process and follows it to the letter, making workflow easy and efficient. In reality, that's rare and teams don't follow processes. Everyone does their thing depending on how they feel. Sometimes it is chaotic. Why? 

There are many possible reasons why people don't follow processes. The common ones are:

  • There are issues with process documentation, such as difficulty in finding processes.
  • Processes aren't fully and formally defined. People don't understand the process and how it works.
  • People and teams aren't trained on the processes and procedures.
  • People don't agree with the process and things they can do better.
  • Procedures exist but are hard to follow or take too much time to use. People don't follow the process because they think it wastes their time.
  • Processes are difficult to read or dull.
  • The processes are outdated, especially when process documentation isn’t automated.
  • There's no one responsible for policing the team's process adherence.

… and so on!

Since your operations team comprises different people with different goals, you must prioritize process management, including SOP adherence, to attain work efficiency.

What to do when no one follows your processes? 

If employees cannot follow the process, then it should be put on hold or stopped until the underlying issue is resolved to reach compliance. 

But first, you should carry out a process audit to find out the issues, define the reason for noncompliance, then address them.

Here are some things to do when there's a lack of process adherence:

  • Audit the process's status and team to determine if the team is meeting interim performance goals.
  • Find out if the team understands the standard operating procedures.
  • Analyze the process and activities for noncompliance. This includes finding out whether the objectives and goals are unmet.
  • Bring the team's attention to the process's deficiency.
  • Initiate and implement corrective actions on the process to prevent reoccurrence.

How to make teams follow the processes

What are some ways to get everyone on the same page to follow your processes? Or, how do you make a person or team adhere to policy?

If you want to make everyone follow processes, do the following.

1. Draft SOPs

Everyone needs a standard operating procedure (SOP) to help them get things done. Procedures are the rules that put business policies into action.

A SOP is a sequential, listicle or step-by-step instructions directing teams and staff on how to do a business task, process or activity with the end in mind.  

Process documentation is important because it provides a knowledge reference and a standard operating procedure. 

Design SOPs and make them available to the team to improve their process adherence capability. It gives the team a point of reference as a framework for how to do the jobs properly, reducing room for error.

In the SOP, create step-by-step guides, listicle instructions and process checklists for appropriate process completion. 

Draft a SOP that outlines the following.

  • Purpose: Why're you doing the task at hand?
  • Procedure: How do you do the task, step-by-step?
  • Scope: How much does the process cover?
  • Responsibilities: Who will perform the tasks?
  • Accountability: Who will take ownership of the task?

Most digital processes are easy to document using a process documentation tool like scribe.

2. Involve the team in process documentation 

Many processes are developed in isolation of the teams that use them. This is wrong and makes the teams feel they were not involved. 

In such a case, where teams aren't involved in process creation, expect gaps, such as missed steps or forgotten instructions. This results in a lack of process adherence.

If you want people to follow processes, and realize process transformation, allow them to design it with you or involve them in process documentation

This is the simplest way to generate employee buy-in because they've been involved and have co-authored the process and understand how it works. 

3. Train employees on the process or SOP 

Once you’ve drafted a SOP or process, you need to train the team on its importance and how to follow it. 

You need to ensure that employees understand the process, why it exists and how to carry it out. This will help them adhere to the process, ensure they’re consistent and improve their process compliance. 

You may do this through a SOP training program.

A SOP training program provides functional and detailed step-by-step instructions, explaining how processes will be completed accurately and consistently. 

Scribe can help you create a SOP training program in a simple step-by-step, how-to guide.

Effective training should be targeted to teams and feature interactive training materials and hands-on learning opportunities, with discussions and answered questions.

4. Explain processes to employees one-on-one

You may also want to explain processes to employees one-on-one. Why? 

As an Ops team leader, you're responsible for ensuring that your team can do their job properly and fast. That also means ensuring they observe process adherence and being there if a team member needs extra explanation.

But you shouldn't spoon-feed teams' information off-hand. Instead, direct the team to the knowledge base where they can access process documents for their reference.

Remember if a process needs repeated guidance and explanations, it might not be the right process for the task or activity.

5. Make processes available & accessible 

Where do you store your team's process documents? 

Once created, process documents need to be stored where teams can access them easily whenever they need them to complete a job. This is called a process repository.

A process repository can be a process documentation and knowledge base software like Scribe, where you create and store processes for everyone's access. It also allows team collaboration on processes. 

This will help avoid comments like 'I didn't know where to find that document’ or the common question, "Hey how do we do this..?"

To make availability and access even easier, attach processes to the workflow or communication platform you use in the organization, such as Slack. For example, once you create a how-to process document guide with Scribe, you can share its URL in your Slack.

6. Make the process easy to read

Like project documentation, process documentation isn't easy. You must balance the technical bits of the process with simple, easy-to-understand language. Otherwise, they'll be ditched.

You also need to arrange the process instruction in a way that's easy to follow. 

Processes that aren't easy to use are hard to adhere to. Unfortunately, 95% of processes are often difficult to read. 

So, when writing process documentation, be creative and clear, and use visuals to elaborate the processes to make them scannable and visually appealing. 

Do not make the process document too long or complicated. If possible, create a SOP or process document for each task, then combine them in a larger process document or folder then link them together in your knowledge base tool based on activities and topics. 

Here's an example of a larger process document, made of smaller SOPs, created by Scribe Pages: Customer Onboarding: LinkedIn Sales Navigator made with Scribe.

7. Appoint a process champion

An activity or process champion (or any other appropriate title) is like process police. S/he is responsible for policing the team's process adherence

Processes work better when an individual is made accountable instead of requiring teams to adhere to the policy.

The champion checks in with teams using the processes to ensure they're not running into any barriers or issues and reports back to the Ops team leader or related channels.

In a small company, the champion could be the Ops team leader. But in bigger enterprises, a staff member could be assigned to enforce the processes.

8. Get feedback & keep processes updated

Team members will frown upon obsolete or out-of-date processes. An outdated process is as bad as no process at all — or even worse.

If employees can't count on your process because it's outdated, they become less efficient. Work with employees and process champions to understand processes and their points of weakness. Make sure the issues are addressed through process updates.

If there are process changes, update process documents to reflect the changes. 

Once you update processes, redistribute your SOP documentation, informing employees of version changes and how they can access recent SOP versions.

It might be extra work to repeatedly print and replace your SOPs, but it's also a chance to remind your staff of the process documents and raise the SOP's visibility. 

You can also automate your process documentation to realize important process transformation. Tools like Scribe can help you automate process documentation updates with screenshots and annotated descriptions. 

How to Monitor & track process documents  

How do you monitor and track processes to make sure everyone continues to observe process adherence as you make updates?

Answer: Use process metrics.

There are four types of process monitoring metrics. 

  • Process efficiency. Ease of task achievement using the process.
  • Process effectiveness. Fulfilling task requirements and rules completely using the process. 
  • Process progress. Task progress using the process at hand.
  • Process compliance. People use the process as prescribed in process requirements.

There are various ways to measure these metrics.

  • Carry out a process audit to understand if it's helping employees carry out their tasks and achieve desired results. 
  • Use surveys to measure process compliance. Ask teams if the processes are easy to follow and address their work needs. You can use in-app surveys if you have process automation software like Scribe. 
  • Ask the process champion if there are any reported difficulties with the project.
  • Update the primary process template. This will allow you to make automatic updates to every active process document. 

Conclusion: Automate process documentation for improved process adherence 

Writing processes or process documentation can be difficult. But that shouldn't mean you avoid it. 

The go-to solution when you want to improve process adherence is automation. Automate your process documentation with Scribe — a how-to guide creation tool.

Automating your process documentation gives you three important things: 

  • A process repository or knowledge base (a must have for keeping track of your SOPs)
  • Easy collaboration among teams.
  • And the pièce de résistance: process adherence.

Let's build stronger teams with stronger accountability and compliance