This article introduces you to the concepts and methods of process, process flow, and process management. Almost everything that happens repeatedly follows a pattern that can be identified. When the pattern, or flow, is identified and understood, it is commonly called a process, or more specifically, a process flow. Thinking about how something gets done and the various steps and activities needed to accomplish it, is called process-oriented thinking. Process-oriented thinking allows for a higher level of understanding, control, and management for any set of activities.
Referring to the figure below you can visually see how money typically flows from its income sources, through banking, and into various disbursements. Hopefully, it is done under the control of some method for its budgeting and management, as it is used to satisfy a persons livelihood.
Effective management of money to maximize its use and to build wealth requires a process understanding of its use. Fortunately, the management of digital money is very much a process-based activity. Computers are very process-oriented, they are great for providing data and information, and they instill a structure to the flow of money. They are programmed to do something, and that is what they do. If properly leveraged, this can help take care of the minutia and tedious nature of understanding the flow of money.
You will find it amazingly simple to change what happens to your money by applying process-oriented thinking. It will enable you to achieve control and the proper balance between debt, wealth accumulation, and your daily needs for livelihood.
Definition of a Process
In simplest of terms, a process forms a basis or way of accomplishing something. A process is a sequence of tasks, steps, and activities that occur in a logical or chronological order, and it is usually something that is performed more than once. Some processes are carefully designed and some are informally established after multiple repetitions of doing the same thing over and over.
Processes have names. There is a beginning step, and there also is a final step. In between the first and last steps are the various other steps which help to produce the desired result. While almost everything done is some form of a process, it is only necessary to employ formal-process techniques to the more important factors in your life. Most people would readily agree that money is one of those important factors in their lives.
Lets look at a practical example, a set of common-day activities that form a rather repeatable process. I will give this process a name Arriving to Work on Time. Just about everyone who goes to work participates in such a process at least five days a week without ever thinking about it. There is a beginning point to this process, which begins when the alarm clock goes off the first time. The process ends upon arrival at the workstation, office, or job hopefully at the desired time, plus or minus a few minutes.
There are a lot of tasks that must be performed between the time when the alarm sounds and the time of arrival. Your precise situation may vary, but a typical set of activities, or steps, would involve getting out of bed, showering, grooming, getting dressed, eating if you have time, driving to work, parking, and walking to the workstation. We have just, with very little effort, identified the major steps in achieving the desired result of arriving to work on time.
For now, just realize that each of these steps takes some amount of time and effort. Also, note that they tend to occur in a sequence or a natural order. At this point, even with just the basic knowledge about this process, we have a better understanding of how it is accomplished and can always add more detail about each of the various steps later. For example, with a little effort it is possible to determine the amount of time each step takes, the resources required, and whether or not it is worth doing. We could also decide on a new and better way of doing it. By now you are probably starting to sense the power of process-oriented thinking.
Knowing each of the steps, it is now possible to drill deeper, if necessary, further expanding the knowledge about the process. Each major step in a process is made up of some number of supportive tasks. For example, you dont just eat. You have to get a bowl, select the cereal, mix milk, sugar, and cereal into the bowl, eat it one spoonful at a time until empty, put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, etc. Also, you dont just drive to work. You have to start your car, put it in gear, turn, stop and drive a specific route, etc. These are the details which, if needed, suddenly become apparent to a person, because of process-oriented thinking.
The what and the how of any task naturally becomes apparent with process-oriented thinking. This type of thinking greatly accelerates a persons expertise, when applied to the many financial aspects of their lives. When you follow this approach, the level of knowledge and understanding you obtain is almost magic. It is the epitome of discovery learning, the most powerful form of learning.
In upcoming articles I will expand process-oriented thinking and show how most of your financial actions are actually part of a process and how process-oriented thinking will help you get more out of your money.
Don Redinius, Author – The New Era of Financial Success, Process Management for Team Members and a contributing author to Six Sigma for Dummies.