The Purpose behind Programs, Products, Projects, and Process

The business world is constantly buzzing with new ideas and technologies that affect products, projects, programs and processes. However, the biggest “P” is for purpose and profit. What is all this “P” buzz about and how does anyone begin to put all the pieces together to understand the big picture? The best analysts at all levels of any given organization will consider the purpose involved in refining the process in order to plan for the profits.

Every business has a strategy and this strategy is almost always associated to a number of programs that involve products or services that serve the organization’s purpose. The purpose is also part of the organization’s mission and the overall vision.

It is also important to know that there are two types of business sectors. In the private sector each organization works to achieve sales profits and customer satisfaction. In the public sector the government works to protect and serve its citizens. Now, let’s break these four Ps down into more detail.

Programs are part of the core of most organizations. They are the business initiatives or areas of concentrated focus where improvements can be made to leverage doing more business or doing better business. Whether the business is in the private sector or the public sector, the organization’s leadership will identify various areas to allocate funds for the improvements related to the enhancement, or delivery, of new products or services to generate more profit, or for transformation and growth of the organization. Programs and initiatives are put in place to align up to the overall business strategy and down to the customer satisfaction and success metrics.

Products or services – as a service can be called a product – all organizations differ based on the various industries. Whether a business is categorized as financial, manufacturing, educational, construction, or other there are always products and services that can be associated and will drive the organization’s need for success. In many organizations they employ product owners or product managers to facilitate the work that involves enhancing the product line and creating new products, or services, for increased revenue stream or increased savings. The product expert (owner or manager) will communicate the vision and ensure the best results are delivered from conception to implementation. Products and services live on until they are deemed useless.

Projects are revisited regularly – weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually –  to ensure that there is a return on investment aligned with the tracking of funds from research and development efforts through the various programs or initiatives. The project team is expected to meet the objectives and deliver the results so the organization can realize the benefits. In the private sector, projects are always meant to improve the products or services to gain more customers and/or shareholders. In the public sector, projects are intended to improve services through savings and proper use of taxpayer funds. Project in the public sector often deal with new programs or automating a tedious manual process to save time and money. Project managers are always in place to manage time, scope and budget. A project is intended to be a temporary endeavor; an endeavor with a specific timeline toward implementation and delivery.

Processes are what will make a difference regarding the effort. Improving processes save time and money and can sometimes save an organization millions of dollars. For a private sector organization it means making millions more by making a product or service the public wants and cannot find themselves living without. For the public sector, government offices and non-profits are anxious to serve their altruistic goals of serving humanity in the most effective and efficient way possible. To be effective and efficient leadership would respect the processes that they put in place and always look for ways to improve them. Processes are only as good as the people who live by them and follow them. The idea is to improve processes to a point of being highly optimized. Creating a repeatable process that everyone adheres to is the idea behind optimization. Processes are where the measurements and metrics prove the needed results for added value. Not everyone will like to follow the process. That is just the way people are, some like to be difficult. But difficulties can be overcome and remember, the process was created so that everything would get done in the shortest amount of time possible using the best methods – because time is money. So at the end of an effort everyone will be able to articulate the added value provided to the organization and why it was needed; or how it served a purpose and so everyone benefits. And if there is one more thing to be shared,  it is that all smart organizations document their processes.

To bring all these “P” words together is the big picture perspective of the business analyst. Every organization has leaders who will define the programs that sell, or share, the products/services using projects to improve the process for better optimization of the work effort, product performance and customer satisfaction.

Remember Peter Piper? Well, think of Peter as your leader. What if Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled products? How many pickled products did Peter Piper pick? He picked a peck. A peck is a unit of measurement equal to a dry measure of 8 quarts, or the fourth part of a bushel (this definition of a “peck” comes from Random House Dictionary). The point is that every organization has a way to measure success. The analyst will understand what is needed to measure the value added and ensure the needed reports for leadership.

The bottomline – Everyone involved from the top of the organization down needs to understand the importance of the organization’s products and services. When the leaders and the workers are aligned the work brings added value for the organization and the benefits are shared all around.

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