Is process scaleable?

Wednesday this week was a day of process frustrations for me.

Let me explain.

I went into London with one aim: To re-register with two agencies who assist in getting acting jobs for me. (For those who don't know, I am an actor as well as a Business Process consultant). The concept is very straightforward - in each agency you fill in a form, sign a document, and have your measurements and pictures taken.

The first agency I went to was ill-prepared for the day. Even though they had booked appointments from 9am, they were not even ready to start until 9.30. Then they had people unsure about which order they had to be processed in. The process itself was unclear in terms of who did which part in which sequence. Photos were being taken randomly before people had been fully processed and it was generally a shambles. I was in there for well over 1 hour.

Contrast that with the later appointment at a different agency. On arrival a row of chairs was ready, each one equipped with a clipboard, pen and appropriate forms. Names were noted for the record and people were processed in arrival sequence. Each person was taken to a measuring station, then to a computer screen, then to a photo studio. I was in there for about 15 minutes.

Fundamentally the process each of these agencies was using was identical, but the implementation of the process was seriously flawed. Actually, on reflection I think the first agency was not using a process. They were just running things on and ad-hoc basis.

It got me thinking about scalability of processes. Agency 1 was a smaller than Agency 2 by quite a margin. The number of people they were processing was considerably less. So, in fact, their process should have been slicker and easier to manage than Agency 2's. But is this in fact the case? Could I have taken the process flow from agency 2 and dropped it into agency 1 without an issue?

Was the process scaleable?

Is process scaleable in general? Can a process which deals with 30 people/widgets/forms per hour be upscaled to deal with 3000 people/widgets/forms per hour without obvious detriment? (Obviously this assumes that it is physically possible to process the appropriate number of items in the given time).

Your thoughts?

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