In the world of business, unoptimized processes will cost you time, money, and a lot of frustration. If you haven’t taken the time to map your systems, processes, and tasks, you may not be operating at your highest possible efficiency.
Process analysis and improvement are important for every type of business, but the more complex your systems, the more you can likely benefit from a documented review. The bigger the machine, the more gears there are to break. You want to make sure you are consistently and thoroughly reviewing and updating every part of your system so that the machine is running smoothly and productively.
From a profit perspective, the fewer resources you waste with inefficiency or corrective maneuvers, the more you stand to gain from the end result. If you have to charge more for a product to cover your own internal shortcomings, your customer base may end up going elsewhere.
Process improvement is more or less what it sounds like: the systematic task of improving existing processes to optimize efficiency and effectiveness. It can be very simple and straightforward, or it can be rather complex. It all depends on how thorough your improvement plans have been and how many processes you have.
The more structured your approach, the better you will be able to identify opportunities for improvement and implement corrective strategies. This should be an ongoing task that results in actionable items for your team. There should always be room for improvement in your processes.
As your business grows and ages, you may wish to upgrade equipment, take on more divisions, or eliminate some processes altogether. You should be able to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of your process improvement by predetermined benchmarks such as customer satisfaction or profit margins.
You may hear process improvement referred to by a few different names, including business process management, continual improvement process, or process improvement analysis. Each aims to identify, eliminate, and prevent mistakes in your processes.
All process improvement strategies seek to accomplish a few key goals:
As a business, you want to make sure that all of your systems are positive and valuable contributions. It should be fairly simple to measure whether or not a particular process is adding value to your project or if it is potentially unnecessary.
If you have reviewed and analyzed your processes, you may have identified a few spots that are prone to mistakes. If certain steps are always risky, find a way to eliminate them. Do not waste company time and resources on activities that are not guaranteed to contribute positively to your output.
Ultimately, how your customers react to your processes and products is most important. If a process improvement protocol is unsatisfying to your customers, it is not the right strategy. Improved efficiency needs to be balanced against the user experience and other benchmarks to really gauge its value.
Process analysis is very similar to process improvement and should always come first. Ideally, you will conduct process analysis for all processes in your organization and be able to identify those most important or in need of improvement.
To analyze a process, you should work with your team and all stakeholders and contributors to identify all parts of the process. Know the ins and outs of the process tasks, goals, and products. Who is involved? Where do problems arise? What are customers saying about this process?
Once you’ve clearly and objectively outlined the process workflow, you should be able to identify areas for improvement. What will add the most value to your organization? What will result in the most customer satisfaction? This can be another opportunity for team brainstorming and visualization.
When discussing the proposed improvements, make sure you understand all aspects of what this improvement would entail. What is its purpose? Why is it necessary? Are there certain standards or regulations you aren’t meeting? Why are the problems actually occurring? Who will be responsible for these changes? Who will the changes affect most? How will you monitor and evaluate these changes long-term?
Now is when the fun starts. If you and your team are confident in the new process plan you have designed, it’s time to get to work. To begin, it is imperative that all of your key stakeholders are in agreement about these changes. If elements of the plan are not implemented thoroughly, you risk failure.
Find a way to easily and consistently monitor how your changes are being implemented and received. Are they accomplishing the specific goals you outlined earlier in the process? Are there unintended consequences that need to be addressed? Are these changes affecting other processes? Continuous improvement is a good approach to business processes and should be an objective of your organization.
A few different methods have been developed to tackle process improvement. They all accomplish the same goals but in somewhat different ways and with different priority focuses. One of the most recognizable frameworks is the Lean methodology. Other specific methodologies are:
Automation is something that is often discussed in relation to process improvement. Reducing the likelihood of human error has proven to be an effective way to increase efficiency for many different processes and industries and is a very popular approach to process improvement these days.
Automation (especially robotic process automation) is seen most often in computer-based processes such as online shopping and email marketing. By investing upfront in software development of coding improvements, a company can theoretically reduce staff and save on salary while increasing reliability as well.
This can be a controversial approach though, as more and more jobs are being eliminated and replaced by automation. A great example of this is self-checkout machines at grocery stores. These are controversial due to public perception of the workforce reduction as well as low customer satisfaction with their usability. Perhaps grocery stores should conduct process analysis to see if this automation improvement has actually added value to their organization.
Every good business owner should be invested in making sure his or her business is operating at maximum effectiveness. You want to have an organization that works well and meets all of its stated objectives. Sometimes doing that means reworking long-established practices or even removing them entirely.
For some organizations, the quick evolution of technology has made many of their processes obsolete. To stay relevant and competitive you have to find ways to be the best at what you do. This will involve an organized approach to process analysis and ultimate improvement. This is a team-based approach that can help empower your workers, increase your profits, and ensure a successful business model for many years.
Keeping on top of business processes and making sure they are being run and carried out in an efficient way is crucial to the success of the business. Often, a business process should be set up with well-established steps to be taken along the way. For a successful business process to take place, it needs to embody multiple characteristics with set assignments and boundaries. Business process templates can be used to help organize and make sense of the intentions you have in your business processes.
A very important aspect of effectively carrying out a business process is to analyze the process as thoroughly as possible, considering all aspects that may be involved. When analyzing the process, be sure to consider;
Considering these aspects, you’ll have a better idea of what to focus on moving forward. After gaining an idea, you can go through with the proposed process, or redesign it to a more efficient one.
As they may seem like the same thing, business process reengineering (BPR) can be quite different from business process management (BPM or BPI). BPR is meant to revamp the companies fundamental way of thinking and operating, whereas BPM is the idea of improving upon the operations you already have running. The main intentions of BPR are to;
BPR can be a bit risky, especially for companies who have a set reputation, and can end up being costly. In the end, the payout can be well worth it if the business processes are set up and carried out as effectively as possible. You can use a business template to help you organize these processes.
The main difference between BPR and BPM lies in the fact that BPR is aimed at revamping the business’s current way of operating, and replacing it with a new, more effective and streamlined system.
Exposing the weak links in a company's system of operations will help to improve the streamlining of efficiency as much as possible. A big aspect is to prioritize work time as much as possible, and get rid of any old processes that are slowing it down. To help realize which aspects of operation are holding a company down, consider;
Considering current processes that are taking more time than they should, and analyzing them for better future use will help to prioritize time. To help organize time and rethink business processes, process improvement templates could be used.