Process Approach - Take 2 - Process Management vs. Function Management


David Mullins

Process Approach - Take 2.

Not trying to re-kindle any fires here, but many contributors confessed to having epiphanies about process management versus function management.

Here's a scenario:
Quality manager No.1 is developing a Quality Management System (QMS) and opts to structure the documentation in a traditional pyramid.

Quality manager No.2 is also developing a QMS and decides that a traditional document pyramid is not suitable for a process management focused organisation. Is there a QMS documentation structure that is better suited to the continuous improvement model (PDSA/PDCA/ Ishikawa Circle/Deming Wheel/ Shewart cycle), as per the ISO9001:2000 model?

Since 9001:2000 supposedly provides a process structure, then presumably each process (an acticity using resources, and managed in order to enable the transformation of inputs into outputs) consists of management responsibility, resource management, product realisation and measurement, analysis and improvement. And the 'process approach' is "the application of a system of processes within an organisation, together with the identification and interactions of these processes, and their management". Then the first step in 9001:2000 is defining your processes?

So it would follow that the most logical way to implement 9001:2000 is to identify your processes and flowchart them, listing critical resources, responsibilities and measurements.
Then add the mandatory 6 procedures and you have everything, yes?

Back to my earlier question, if the document pyramid doesn't suit the process aproach, what structure does (and it must be clear for the user to follow/find items)?

Chris May



I tend to agree with you on the pyramid approach not suiting a process defined QMS.

What I am doing, IS defining critical processes and then trying to map the whole business "process" from receipt of order to final shipment.
I plan to get a few "knowledgable" people, one from each key process, go into a room with a bag of post-its and then from left-to-right, map out the business on the wall. This will take time and the room might not be big enough, in which case, bite sized chunks will do.

My procedures are going from texty tombs, (do people read these ?? of course they do.....), to flowcharts done in Visio.
Top-to-bottom flow chart on the left of the sheet, responsibilities in the middle adjacent to appropriate element and timescale/TAT on the right. People like these.

So for me, the pyramid approach is useless. It tends to leave holes and you lose sight of connectivity...every output from somewhere is an input somewhere else.....not easy to see in a tiered system.

At least doing a top level business flow diagram you can graphically spot gaps.

Also, getting the various clans involved, you can have a nice debate about, "Yeah, thats what we do....but (moves post-it) about this ??

Simple but effective.

Hope this helps


Chris May

M Greenaway

I would say that the traditional documentation pyramid is defunct under ISO9001:2000. The level 1 document (quality manual) no longer has to adress the requirements of the standard, level 2 documents (procedures) are no longer mandated - apart from 6, and as for level 3 (work instructions) or level 4 (forms, etc) these were never mandated in ISO9000 anyway.

If the management system documentation is not written around the processes how can we show that we are managing these activities as processes ?


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I'm not sure that I would say that the pyrimid is defunct, obsolete, antiquated, whatever....You still need to have a quality manual, procedures, records etc. I think that the pyrimid structure is still there, it is maybe turned on its side? so to speak.

I think that we now see the level 2 procedures differently than we used to. Even though the standard does not say we have to have 19 or twenty procedures anymore, we still need to look at the processes and sub-processes and I think most folks will document these in a flow-chart, process map, or written description (or some combination). Personally, I think that the pyrimid is just going to get morphed a bit, maybe to a more diamond shape. You'll have your level 1 at the top, but your level 2 will be a broader more encompassing level than in the past. I see our work instructions or level 3 continuing the pyrimid shape but maybe not at a continuous angle, and our records are actually shrinking back somewhat due to our efforts in providing continuity within the process and using one form to document several things (oh the joys of computers!) the number of over-all "fields" to be completed, but we have fewer records.

Am I making sense? Sometimes it is hard to verbalize visual concepts!

Mike S.

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Originally posted by SteelMaiden
I'm not sure that I would say that the pyrimid is defunct, obsolete, antiquated, whatever....You still need to have a quality manual, procedures, records etc. I think that the pyrimid structure is still there, it is maybe turned on its side? so to speak.

Wow, I sure do learn alot in this forum! And I have alot to learn it seems. IMHO I think SteelMaiden's note makes a heck of alot of sense. Our company is still 9001-1994 based (don't ask) but as I read more about 9000-2000 and think of applying it in the future I can "see" this approach (a documentation diamond) in my mind as reasonable. Maybe because I'm still in 1994-land, but it seems easier for me to understand.

"Seeing" the 2000 "process approach" in my mind is much harder than "seeing" the 1994 20-section approach, and I'm not sure it is ALL due to familiarity. But, when we're talking about MY mind, we're not talking Mensa material, either.


James Gutherson

It depends on what you're looking at.

I think that it really depends on what you're looking at.

(I'm going to try to describe this because I'm still working on drawing it for everyone)
If I'm looking at the interrelationships of the processess, then I tend to think of a series of arrows in parallel, being our main products. Along these arrows are boxes being the major steps in producing these products. A bit like the Key Processes given by Jim Wade.
Then surronding these arrows is a 'cloud' of support procedures, again like the one described by Jim.

BUT, If I'm looking purly at the documentation, then the Pyramid fits fine. The Intranet Site which describes our business and provides links to the documented procedures (Quality Manual), the documented procedures then sitting below that, then the Forms and records to support the procedures below that again.

The documentation is not the system, therefore there is no reason why the Pyramid needs to be thrown out in a Process Based approach.


Here is the pic that I put into our QM to describe our documentation.


  • qms_documentation_structure.doc
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Michael Christie

I like this thread.

Like the rest of you, I have been noticing that the triangle seems to have lost it's place. I find that my QM in places takes on the job of the level 2's and my level 2's in places also combine level 3 instructions. It just seems natural, once one starts cutting across boundaries and looking at the process instead of functions. Well, O.K. some of my procedures seem to still be function-oriented....

I haven't found a different model that is of any use, and I am just winging it, which is what I like to do best, anyhow. I figure that if my work improves the company's health, becomes something that will live after I am gone, and makes the auditor smile, that is what counts.

Maybe it is time for the triangle to exit stage left. Just like functions and departments. Shift those paradigms!!!


Exit the triangle?

I like your pic that describes your QM documentation. I have been experimenting with the use of Mindmaps as a form of communicating processes that are integral to QMS. I start by printing the idea or subject in the page centre (Landscape format) and radiating outwards from the subject, I attach with arrows the processes and sub-processes that are part of the QMS, I have found this to be a very effective form of communicating in general as, I have experienced that almost everyone who uses this form of mapping tends to have more effective communication of subjects as, It seems that radiant thinking (Processing) is more natural.

Michael Christie

And just when you thought you knew everything.......

I confess, I had to go look up mind-mapping on the web. Looks like a pretty good idea. Thanks!
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