Process Improvement is a self-explanatory word. It simply means making changes or improving the processes of your work or business to obtain enhanced results. While that might appear to be a simple and technically correct explanation, in reality, business process improvement is a bit complex.
Business process improvement (also referred to as business process management or BPM) involves ongoing or continuous improvement and business process re-engineering. It involves developing the practice of consistently identifying, analyzing and improving business processes with the goal of enhancing quality, optimizing performance, reducing waste, and creating more value for customers.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of viewing business process improvement as a one-time standalone activity. It is not. Furthermore, to reap the benefits of business process improvement, entrepreneurs must continuously commit to practicing process improvement. They must first identify the problem areas, evaluate their extent, and apply corrective steps to improve their existing processes. It must not only be done unremittingly but proactively too.
Where Can Process Improvement Be Applied?
Team Meetings And Ideation Sessions
Firstly, holding team sessions and ideating sessions is a must to identify the areas that need improvement. With technology and business processes becoming increasingly intertwined, you can begin by looking at the updates and new technologies available that can replace some of the outdated methods you still use.
Training Of Employees
In big businesses, employees work within a specific framework. They are also unlikely to know what’s happening beyond that framework. Process improvement can be applied in the employee training sessions to cross-train them and handle multiple jobs so they can handle a related job when another employee is absent. The process thus remains uninterrupted.
Businesses waste significant resources when they waste time. Managers must find ways to measure the time taken within the organization to complete specific tasks and compare it with industry standards. Additionally, appropriate measures can be applied to optimize the process and save time. Automating specific areas of tasks, reducing touchpoints, and removing bottlenecks can help save time and boost efficiency.
Managers’ focus on operations and productivity levels can easily overlook the environment in which their team works. It is a proven fact that your work environment can influence your mood and impact productivity. It also involves doing simple things such as remodeling the interior design, adding green landscaping, tweaking the lighting arrangement, etc.
Benefits Of Process Improvement
With continuous business process improvement, you can enjoy multiple benefits. The key ones are:
- Firstly, the introduction of transformational and lasting improvements that can become the norm within the department or the organization.
- Employees can become more active and enthusiastic participants leading to a cohesive and motivated workforce.
- Improved operations across the board by reducing operational costs and minimizing waste. Improving product output and providing services more efficiently can lead to an increase in customer sign-ups.
- Improved productivity can result in increased profit and revenue growth.
- Finally, the most important benefit is the maximized value to customers. Organizations can deliver high-quality products and superior services that customers want and appreciate.
Identifying Process Improvement Opportunities
Identifying process improvement opportunities begins with choosing the right tool for your business improvement needs. It must give you an insight into the business process and provide details of how the process or sub-process can be planned, initiated, and applied to various areas of your business.
The first step is to define and map out the existing processes and analyze the strategies in-depth. Look for problem areas and bottlenecks. A loss and waste analysis is also valuable in identifying the internal wasters and quantifying how much money is lost in the process. Such wastes may include downtime, lost prospects, rejections, and other similar losses caused by poorly planned deliveries and repeated customer complaints.
Process Improvement – The Steps You Must Take
The basic Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC) or Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify (DMADV) provides the foundation for any process improvement initiative. The steps can be easily understood and implemented. In addition, the tenets of DMAIC/DMADV provide the framework for implementing continuous improvement, but there is scope for adequate flexibility in each application.
These steps will guide you in achieving the process improvement you desire in your organization.
- Create a strategy and keep pace with the changing technology and tools to achieve the best outcome.
- Develop a vision that focuses on long-term business goals instead of looking at and resolving existing problems.
- Deliver the digital experience that customers yearn for. Look for new software or tools in your domain that can help employees accelerate their task processes. Focus on the knowledge it can provide and not on the technology itself.
- Understand your current state and how introducing new tools can boost efficiency.
- Finally, check how these tools can address your current and future needs.
In conclusion, process improvement helps businesses intensify their operative architecture by recognizing the obstacles across key processes. Businesses must provide the methods, tools, and techniques specific to their domain to create a roadmap for operational excellence.