One of the primary activities done in the kitchen is cooking. And cooking is a process. In fact, a creative process. Hence, one of the best applications of the principles of BPM [Business Process Management] is while cooking..
In this blog, I have attempted to list the application of the key BPM principles which I have applied over the years while cooking
DEFINE THE PROCESSES
One of the easiest and most powerful applications of BPM is to define the processes for cooking. The process can be defined in your head or on paper; but it’s important that it is well defined.
(i) Identify the end-to-end process flow. Each step in the process needs to have clear inputs, outputs, tasks and actors. Also, the dependencies between the various processes should be explicitly highlighted.
 Have a high level end-to-end process view beginning from procurement of ingredients for cooking and ending at optimal utilization of these ingredients
 Have the second level of process definition for a day which includes all the cooking required to be done in a day. This should include all meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 Have the final level of process definition for a specific meal like dinner
(ii) What really helps is to break up the process into sub-processes and identify
 The sub-processes which can be completed prior to the actual cooking. For e.g: Chopping vegetables
 The sub-processes which can be scheduled to be completed in parallel. For e.g.: Boiling vegetables and preparing the gravy for the vegetable
 The sub-processes which can be delegated to others / outsourced. For e.g.: Ask someone to chop the vegetables for you OR buy chopped vegetables
(iii) Plan and Schedule the execution of these sub-processes / processes
AUTOMATE WHERE POSSIBLE
Once you have a clear process definition, identify steps or tasks that can be automated. For e.g.: Use a blender or mixie to make a puree / paste. Eliminate manual tasks and aim for automation. With the range of cooking appliances in the market today, selection of the right one for you could be the challenge. Do keep in mind that automation using an appliance does have other implications – For e.g.: Additional shelf space to store the appliance, Additional maintenance time and effort for cleaning, Additional costs in terms of electricity consumption, etc. The final decision for the extent of automation is a personal choice based on your individual requirements and preferences
EXECUTE THE PROCESS
The next step is to actually execute the process that you have defined. And this is the most important step as the real cooking is done here. And how efficiently you are able to cook depends on your plan, process definition and experience. Of course, nothing like the Midas Touch to bring out the “PERFECT” dish. And in this, no process can really help!
PLAN FOR PROCESS DEVIATIONS
In reality, there will be deviations to the process. For e.g.: Some of the ingredients are not available, Blender is not working, etc. It is good to think about possible process deviations and plan for them in advance. Of course, this will directly link to experience. With experience, one will be able to handle and adapt to most process deviations. While you cannot always be prepared for all deviations, the one mantra to handle any process deviations is presence of mind
DEFINE KPI’s & MEASURE THEM
One of the most powerful ways to get better at cooking is to define KPI [Key Performance Indicators] and measure them. The KPI definition should be linked to an individual’s context – There can be KPI’s around Process efficiency, Turn Around Time (TAT), productivity, etc.. For e.g.: Cook a balanced healthy meal in 40 minutes, Or Chop vegetables in 20 minutes. Once defined, do track and measure the KPI’s periodically. This will give a view of the process performance
FOCUS ON CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENTS
Once you have measured the KPI’s, the last step is to focus on improvements. It’s important to optimize the process to improve efficiency and productivity. And for this – Identify steps which can be eliminated, Identify if the right person is assigned the right task – in terms of skills, capability, etc. (check your rules) and lastly Identify steps which can be made more efficient and how to do this..
And most importantly, Enjoy Cooking…. Happy Cooking!!
NOTE: All the above are based on personal experiences and are supported by years of data, real-life application and statistical analysis.