In today’s competitive business environment organizations must be exceptionally vigilant when it comes to process improvement. Organizations must always study the market and look for ways to improve their overall operations if they want to remain relevant and profitable.
This article will explore the definition of business process improvement, who uses and studies this theory, how business process improvement can help your business, and tips for implementing it.
What Is Business Process Improvement
Business Process Improvement can best be defined as a strategic planning methodology that studies and identifies operational areas of improvement. Studies often focus on people or technological skills that can be learned or improved to create more efficient workflow. Minor changes can often create big results and can impact the business’s overall level of success. Business process improvement is often implemented in one large chunk rather than in incremental changes. While the initial investment in business process improvement studies can be intimidating, the end result is often well worth the investment.
Who Uses This Methodology
There are many moving parts to this methodology. Often, the head leadership of a company will initiate the process. However, the data collection and other pieces of the puzzle required for an effective analysis are often implemented a little farther down the chain of command. Management teams are often asked to do a lot of the data collection as they are the drivers of the actual work. Overall, business process improvement is a team effort.
How It Can Help Your Business
Business process improvement is designed to help a business take the next step in their growth and transformation. Here are a few of the main benefits of this process:
1. Increased Employee Satisfaction
This methodology often results in the creation of practices that reduce stress and reduce the amount of manual work required of employees. This change gives employees a little more work life balance and can dramatically alter their attitude towards work.
In addition, this process will often uncover the idea that employees need more training. Research suggests that employees who are not trained properly experience high levels of stress and dissatisfaction at work. Lack of training can also result in an employee experiencing reduced productivity. Additional training will help your employees feel more connected to their work and will equip them with the skills required to perform at a high and consistent level.
2. Increased Productivity
A lot of the business process improvement tactics facilitate the use of more automated systems and eliminate bottlenecks and wasteful practices. Redundancy is eliminated through this process allowing employees to focus on more innovative tasks. Employees who are able to focus on their work without the added paperwork will experience higher levels of productivity.
3. Improved Customer Satisfaction
New technology is often introduced as a way to improve processes when undergoing a business process improvement audit. The use of technology improves the consistency and accuracy of many processes. For service industry businesses this is extremely valuable. New technological processes can reduce customer wait times, offer new and convenient ways to receive information or products, and ensure your brand consistently delivers in an accurate and timely fashion. These changes can have a huge impact on the customer’s perception and will have long-term financial impacts for your business.
4. Cost Savings
Cost savings are a definite perk of business process improvement. As we’ve already seen, automated systems can eliminate wasted manpower and allow the company’s dollars to be put towards more innovative work. In addition, technology will help reduce some of the costs associated with non-electronic processes like paper, faxing, and storage devices.
7 Tips to Get Started
It can be overwhelming to take on a project of this magnitude. It takes a lot of foresight, commitment, and employee support. Here are a few tips for implementing business process improvement:
1. Do an Inventory
In order to determine where you need to go, you must first establish your current situation. As a leader, you’ll want to inventory your current processes and document more obvious areas of improvement. If you don’t begin with this critical step, you’ll end up lost and spending time in the wrong places.
2. Involve Employees
You’ll definitely need the support and buy-in of your staff. Employees are much more willing to back a change if they feel involved in making the decision. Obviously, you can’t let employees drive your decisions, but you can make them feel involved in the process. Your employees will be grateful to be included rather than having the final draft sprung on them with no notice.
3. Create a Vision
After doing your inventory and getting feedback from your employees you’ll want to create a vision for the future. This will be your focus as you begin to take steps towards the final goal. It will also keep you on track and avoid wasted energy.
4. Estimate Costs
You’ll want to evaluate the monetary and time constraints on your project. It’s important that you are able to financially back your goals so this step is important.
5. Create & Communicate Internal Metrics
You’ll want to establish a set of metrics for measuring your success and adjusting as necessary. You’ll need to clearly communicate these metrics so your entire team understands what is considered “success”. Then, you’ll need to test your new processes and ideas against these metrics.
6. Be Flexible
You’ll need to keep an open mind when it comes to new processes. If you’re too connected to your idea or strategy and it proves unsuccessful, you must be willing to let it go and adjust your course.
7. Keep Your Team Updated
Communication is key throughout the process. You’ll want to find a mechanism for keeping everyone in the loop. Whether it is a weekly email, face-to-face meetings or webcasts, it’s important to keep your team posted on the progress. This allows them to feel connected to the project and you’ll be more likely to have their support when it’s time to fully implement the change.
Overall, business process improvement is a huge investment for your business. You’ll experience tremendous growth if you stay committed to continuous improvement.
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