September 27, 2021

Process consistency in corporate communications? - Give it a rest!

Janina Stucki

Have you ever thought about process consistency within corporate communications? Consistency towards the outside forms one of the cornerstones of integrated communication and gets a lot of attention in communication departments. Within the communication process, however, it is treated with much more restraint. We want to change this and show you here why it is so important.

Clearly, when we talk about integrated communication, consistency towards the outside plays a major role. Its advantages in relation to our target groups are that it is much easier for them to build trust in an organization. Trust is based on transparency. If an organization constantly adopts a new position on the same topic, this has a confusing effect - in other words, it is inconsistent. This in turn damages public perception and thus the image of an organization. 

«Consistent processes internally are a basic prerequisite for consistent communication externally.»

The topic is treated with much more restraint when it comes to processes within the communications department. Consistent internal processes are a basic prerequisite for consistent external communication. It goes beyond the consistent application of a CI/CD. In order to develop a common «language» within an organization that goes beyond what can be written down in a CI/CD manual, processes must also be consistent. Communication is becoming increasingly fast-paced. We depend on being able to react quickly to the unexpected. Both negatively and positively. Lengthy approval processes, the constant redefinition of procedures and the poor interaction of individual steps weaken the ability of a communications department to act effectively. Of course, it is not possible to cushion every case with this. It is in the nature of things that there are always exceptional cases that cannot be squeezed into predefined process steps. But that is precisely why it is important that these templates can be applied to 99 percent of cases. This is the only way to ensure sufficient resources and freedom to address the remaining one percent - with maximum quality.

Competencies are in demand - but which ones?

But how exactly can this be ensured? How does one proceed?

The first step is time-consuming and laborious: The entirety of the communicative activity must be broken down into individual sub-steps. This requires a very analytical approach. A competence that - without offending anyone - is not necessarily the focus in the communications industry. Creativity, writing and presentation skills - or even the ability to represent an organization to the outside world - are in demand. Analytical thinking, on the other hand, is something we tend to look for in finance or IT departments. And rightly so in some cases. However, we would do well to build up this competence in places. So that we have forces within an organization that both understands the totality of the communicative process and is capable of analyzing it. In other words, the person must be capable of taking the process apart, but also of putting it back together again in a meaningful way.

«Digitizing the communication process already represents the first step in the right direction.» 

Because the more chaotic and confusing processes become, the less possible it is to generate consistent output. This disassembly and reassembly is like a detective's Herculean task. In the end, however, we have a clockwork system in which all the cogs mesh perfectly.

Those who do not have the necessary expertise and cannot build it up in the foreseeable future would certainly do well to acquire it. The disadvantage here is that an external person must first of all familiarize himself with the existing processes. However, the view from the outside can sometimes work wonders here as well.

«A sensibly selected communication management tool not only drives digitization forward, but also supports process optimization.»

IT can also provide additional help

Digitizing the communication process already represents the first step in the right direction. The efficiency of process optimization can therefore be made even more powerful if it is coupled to communication management software. Whether this is already in use or needs to be newly introduced is secondary. If new, it may be easier to rethink existing (or even missing) processes in the course of introducing new software anyway. It should be obvious to everyone that it makes little sense to put a stringently functioning tool over chaotic processes. And the resources that have to be used to adapt the logic of a software to inconsistent processes with improvised workarounds are better spent on rethinking the processes. In the end, every management tool is based on models and is not arbitrarily adaptable to individual - and often nonsensical - processes. Especially tools that claim to work across processes are based on objectively optimized processes. If they do not do this, i.e. if processes can be put together completely freely, the result will be the same chaos at the end as at the beginning.

To cut a long story short: a sensibly selected communication management tool not only drives digitization forward, but also supports process optimization. This is because the logic of any such software is based on an already optimized process and helps to break down one's own work into individual process steps. Before they can subsequently - and in harmony with the software - be reassembled into a consistent whole.

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