You’re already using countless processes in your business, today let’s look at how to improve them … and in doing so, improve your business.
Your processes and procedures are your roadmap for your day to day operations but the fun doesn’t end with creating them. And let’s be real, creating them isn’t really the definition of fun! The fun starts with the results process improvement has on your business, and you ultimately spending more time in your zone of genius.
Why is Process Improvement Important?
There are many benefits to process improvement. These include:
- Improved Productivity: With process improvement and automation, you can save valuable time by reducing the number of steps a person needs to do. That gives you time to focus on other improvements that can directly increase the revenue of your business.
- Happier Team: Instead of having to tediously do routine and mind-numbing tasks, with process improvement your team feel empowered to have a direct impact in your business.
- Client Delight: When your clients experience a high level of consistency and accuracy, they build trust with your business and know that they won’t fall through the cracks.
- Reduced Risk: With proper process automations and improvements in place, you can avoid risk. You can have your system take care of the things that humans often struggle with, without leaving anything up to chance.
- Ready to Scale: Your new processes means as your business grows, the foundation of how you do business supports that growth with no negative impact on quality of service or strain on you and your team.
5 Ways to Improve your Processes:
The first and most important step is to outline the processes you want to improve. You can use mapping techniques (e.g. flowcharts or swim lane diagrams) to visualise your strategies and goals, identifying what requires the most energy and resources. Seek feedback from the people who regularly use the specific processes you’re improving so you don’t miss out on anything.
Tip: Start small. Outline a key process to start with where improvement will have a significant impact.
Next, you need to analyse your strategy to optimise its efficiency. This means exploring related opportunities by asking questions, such as:
- what is most expensive,
- which processes are the most frustrating,
- where do most delays come from,
- what tasks are the most time consuming,
- where is quality impacted most?
Look into pain points to identify what is not working to its full potential, and then use an analysis method to find out why. We use the 5 Whys method to find the underlying problems so that you are treating the root of the issue and not just the symptoms. This method involves asking a question and tracking the line of thought by asking ‘why’ 5 times to reveal why things are done a certain way and what needs resolution. This, as well as feedback from team members, will help show you issues you hadn’t before considered so that the improvement process is effective long-term.
Having taken all the feedback and analysis into account, it’s time to redesign your processes to eliminate the issues. To improve! As you strategise, consider both Risk and Impact Analysis to ensure that your processes won’t immediately fail once reinstated. Consult with the team members who will be using the processes. They will help you consider how your strategy will translate into practice. While redesigning can be detail-focused, you don’t want to forget about the big picture impact.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for process improvement, it’s time to implement it. One of the first steps in this phase involves discussing the new changes with both employees and stakeholders. Anticipate some resistance, not everyone is comfortable with change. Be patient and emphasise the benefits of the new and improved processes to get their support. Remember, implementing this change can be a project in itself, so you want to allocate time for unpredicted delays or issues. Be proactive in avoiding identified risk in the implementation.
After you’ve implemented the changes to your process, you may think you’re good to go. Business Process Improvement … done! Don’t stop just yet, BPI is continual improvement. If you want to continue improving you must continually review the progress and make updates when necessary, both internally and externally. You can use analytics tools to track your process or view metrics, which also make compiling month-end reports much easier.
Don’t be afraid to modify your approach as time passes, you want to integrate systems that simplify regularly reviewing and refining your processes.
Remember to prioritise checking in with team members, especially in the early stages after implementation, so that you are always aware of how your team is adapting, and what the strengths and weaknesses are.