All posts by Ben Mulholland


How to Beat the Bus Factor (and Be Prepared for Anything)

bus factorWhat would happen if you were hit by a bus while walking to work?

Well, other than the morbidly obvious, and the time and money spent hiring and onboarding their replacement…

This is the line of thinking behind the infamous “bus factor” – the minimum number of people who, if out of action, would cause your operations to collapse.

46% of UK businesses would be forced to cease trading immediately if a key person died or was unable to continue working through illness or injury” – Online Money Advisor, Key Man Insurance: A Definitive Guide to Key Person Insurance

It might not be ideal, but it’s a harsh reality that every team has to face; whether temporarily or permanently, your colleagues aren’t always able to make it into work.

We, here at Process Street, have had more than our share of project delays (and even failures) due to a low bus factor, which is why this post has been written. Today, you’ll learn how to identify risky projects by using the bus factor, and how to mitigate those issues as quickly (and cheaply) as possible.

We’ll be covering:

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How to Solve Your Problems With Lean Six Sigma (Free DMAIC Checklist)

lean six sigma

Elisabeth Swan is the co-author of “The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit” and co-host of “The Just-in-Time Cafe Podcast.” She’s been a process improvement consultant, speaker, and innovator for over 30 years. She’s the Chief Learning Experience Officer for GoLeanSixSigma.com, a former cast member of ImprovBoston, and – if asked – may still be able to ride a unicycle.

Surgeon Atul Gawande made headlines when he told the world that a simple checklist could drastically reduce unnecessary deaths in The Checklist Manifesto.

Yet, checklists conjure images of forklift drivers on loading docks with clipboards counting boxes. How could they transform healthcare?

He has… produced a 90-second checklist which reduced deaths and complications by more than one-third in eight hospitals around the world – at virtually no cost and for almost any operation.” – James Clarke, reviewing The Checklist Manifesto, Ulster Med J. 2011 Jan; 80(1): 54.

Aviation was transformed decades earlier when management and engineers at Boeing Corporation created the pre-flight checklist after the 1935 crash of the prototype Boeing B-17 at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. Checklists have become so essential to the airline industry that most crashes can be traced to the misuse or failure to complete a checklist.

A New York Times reviewer noted, “no matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes”. Since the purpose of process improvement is improving outcomes, Lean Six Sigma and checklists are natural companions.

To prove that, this Process Street blog post will show the relationship between checklists and lean six sigma, and provide you with a free DMAIC Improvement Project Tollgate Checklist that you can use right now.

Use the links below to jump to that section of the post:

Or, if you just want the checklist, check it out below!

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What is Scrumban? The Best Parts of Scrum and Kanban

scrumban
507 blog posts.

That’s how many items our team has created, edited, and published since implementing Scrumban.

Before we set up our system, we were mostly scrabbling to get items together from week-to-week, without knowing what we’d be working on next.

Now, we’re always 3 weeks ahead of our publishing calendar, have built our blog to over 130,000 subscribers, and have expanded our team by over 300%.

That’s why we here at Process Street will take you through this (practically new) method for managing your team and projects.

We’ll cover:

If you want a sneak preview of how we’ve deployed Scrumban, I’ll give you a hint. It’s got something to do with the Sprint Planning checklist below (which you can grab for free!)…

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Lab Procedures: How to Make Your Lab Safe and Effective

Lab Procedures

I’m not religious, but God bless high school lab technicians.

I can’t count the number of times that Dave (our high school’s technician), exasperated and exhausted, despaired at the lack of common sense some of our teachers had.

Heck, our physics teacher once almost exposed a classroom of Year 7s (11 years old!) to chlorine gas.

He forgot to turn on the extractor fans, leaving poor old Dave to rush in, turn them on, and then promptly evacuate everyone from the room.

Corroding the lungs of your students is, after all, not best practice.

This is why it’s important to have set lab procedures in place. Following these documented processes is the best way to prevent disaster.

When 25-38% of lab personnel have been in an accident that wasn’t even reported (as demonstrated by Dana Ménard and John Trant), you can see the dangers that are easily taken for granted in a lab environment.

That’s why we here at Process Street have created a Lab SOP process that you can use for free, and will go over the common points that a lab procedure needs to cover in this post.

If you just want to get the checklist for yourself, you can check it out below.

You can also click the links below to be taken to a specific section of the article:

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How to Write a Procedure: 13 Steps to Eclipse Your Competition

how to write a procedure - header

Knowing how to write a procedure is a key skill for anyone looking to build a successful business. Procedures are vital to consistent success for many of the same reasons that processes are important – they let you reliably repeat your successes, isolate and correct your mistakes, and create a business model that lets you scale your operations.

If you don’t know how to write a procedure then you’re dead in the water. Get it right, and the resulting efficiency boosts can put you on track to eclipse your competitors.

This Process Street post will cover the following topics to help you write effective procedures:

Read on to learn the 13 steps to writing your business’ procedures effectively, in a way that they will actually be followed instead of getting read once and then forgotten.

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How to Perform a Fire Extinguisher Inspection (Free Template!)

Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Lunch was over.

I was walking back to our senior common room with my friends. When we reached Foundation House, we found all of the students and teachers standing outside while the fire brigade trailed in.

There was no smoke or visible flames but I saw three friends that we’d left in the common room off to one side of the car park looking sheepish.

Turns out that they’d managed to make a pseudo-napalm launcher out of a tube of Pringles, a rubber band, spray deodorant, a lighter, and a supply of biro casings.

My friends were smart but, as you might’ve guessed, had no common sense.

Whether you have students setting off fire alarms with molten flaming plastic or have a much larger accident, it’s important to know that your safety measures are up to standard.

$25 billion in damages were caused by fire in 2018 in the US alone, which should tell you how vital it is to catch fires and deal with them early before they need additional help to contain.

That’s why fire extinguisher inspections are so important.

In this post I’ll cover:

You’ll also get access to Process Street’s free Fire Extinguisher Inspection Checklist in the very next section of this article!

Let’s get started.
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6 Types of Project Proposals That Get Approved (and How to Write Them)

project proposal - header

✅ Bonus material: Grant Proposal Template + Checklist to help you secure funding

Project proposals are how you can get management to act on your ideas. They’re the bottom-up version of a project request form.

They are how you can influence your company’s future.

Writing a project proposal isn’t rocket science, but it is a vital skill for being able to successfully pitch projects that you know will benefit your team and business as a whole. Casual conversations aren’t enough – you need to give a formal document that addresses concerns before your manager, CEO, and stakeholders have a chance to voice them.

Plus, having a set template for writing a proposal gives you a document which you can reference throughout the entire project. Instead of having to rely on notes and your vague memory of a water cooler conversation, you have set instructions to follow, and a defense against anyone who says that the project isn’t worth it.

It’s a great example of effective business process management – if anyone questions you, you can show them the project proposal and say “this was approved, and so this is what we’re going to do”.

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PDCA: How to Eliminate Error in Your Processes and Products

pdca

Product defects can range from benign to deadly. The Ford Pinto, for example, caused up to 180 deaths and many more disfigurements before being recalled due to fuel tank safety defects.

Ford’s resulting loss of reputation (especially because they had known about the issue and failed to take action) and money in lawsuits is something nobody wants to deal with. Errors and defects thus should be identified and dealt with as soon as possible.

That’s why this article from us here at Process Street will take a look at PDCA – the continuous improvement cycle dedicated to doing just that.

We’ll cover:

Enough talk, let’s dive right in!
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How to Boost Workplace Productivity: 5 Tech Examples

workplace productivity

This is a guest post written by Jeff OxfordJeff is a tech enthusiast who follows new trends in technology and digital marketing. He had been a speaker at the 2013, 2017, and 2018 IRCE and has written contributions to Forbes.com, InternetRetailer.com, and Infusionsoft.

Staying on top of tasks amid distractions is not a problem exclusive to the 21st century, although today’s folks have to deal with social media. It is the rabbit hole where anyone can willingly spend at least 144 minutes every day.

You can expect this statistic to rise when the expected three billion people, or 40 percent of the world’s population in 2021, will join the social networking sites.

With that and other things in mind, it’s no wonder that productivity and efficiency are the main targets of a tireless quest to achieve a productive work life.

productivity search

According to Google Trends, the interest in productivity peaked in September 2018. While it has sustained some lows, the idea continues to gain attention as we speak.

efficiency search

Efficiency, like productivity, also enjoys high volume searches in the US.

Turning a blind eye on the impact of social media and relevant efficiency killers is counterproductive. Surely, limiting access to Facebook, Twitter, and other sites that compel browsing during office hours can help. Plus, smartphones have to go or be kept out of reach to avoid looking at it every 20 minutes.

It makes even more sense to face the battle head-on, combat technology with technology. Companies can focus their energies on speeding up, streamlining, sorting processes so that people have less time to wonder and wander about in the office.

That’s not to say that you’ll always be able to tell why your productivity plummets.

Every workplace is different, and so are the people that populate it. However, office culture and personal quirks aside, this article will count exemplary technologies and tools that harness, not hinder, workplace productivity.

If you’d like to skip ahead then feel free to use the links below:

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How to Handle Workflow Approval (Without the Hassle)

workflow approval

Workflow approvals are a bottleneck of the worst kind.

Projects get delayed waiting for approval, and those reviewing the work spend more time searching for the piece than they do reviewing it.

Professionals take 18 minutes on average to locate a document manually––20% to 40% of their time––and spend 50% of their time searching for information.” – Ashish Deshpande, 50+ Key Statistics to Help You Automate Smarter in 2020 and Beyond

That’s where we here at Process Street come in.

We know how important it is to have an effective method for organizing your workflow approvals. Heck, everything our content team does goes through at least two rounds of review before it goes live.

Check out task five in the following free process template for a snapshot of how we handle workflow approvals with Process Street!

That’s why today we’ll be covering:

Let’s dive right in.
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