Business Process Improvement in 6 Steps
What is Business Process Improvement?
You’ve probably heard that “We’ve always done it this way” are some of the most expensive words in business. And, that’s true—it’s easy, but ultimately counterproductive, to fall into the trap of doing things just because they’re predictable or comfortable.
This is where business process improvement comes into play. It involves taking a cold, hard look at the current way you’re doing things and seeing if you could remove inefficiencies or roadblocks.
Business Process Improvement (BPI) is an approach designed to help organisations redesign their existing business operations to accomplish significant improvement in production.
While streamlining the incremental steps of business processes is a crucial part of this approach, it’s important to note that the goal of business process improvement is to improve the overall outcome—rather than just the process itself.
Why Does Business Process Improvement Matter?
Many companies make the mistake of writing off their processes as inconsequential—they’re getting things done anyway, so how important can they be?
Make no mistake, business process improvement matters, as evidenced by the numerous benefits you’ll experience by focusing on building and refining effective processes.
1. Save Time
Nearly 50% of workers say that the primary cause of their wasted time during the workday is inefficient processes. Employees waste hours each week searching for the information they need, jumping through hoops, and navigating roadblocks that crop up time and time again.
Just imagine how much time you could save employees with effective processes in place— and, even further, what amazing things they could accomplish with that extra time.
2. Improve Results
The primary goal of business process improvement is to improve the result of the process, and not just the process itself.
In addition to empowering you to increase quality while decreasing time, processes also help to ensure consistency. Since everybody is following the same standardised way of doing things, you can feel confident that every single thing that’s produced meets expectations.
3. Onboard New Team Members
There’s a lot of knowledge transfer that needs to happen when you add a new member to your team. You need to get them up to speed on tasks and routines they’ll do time and time again.
That’s far easier with a documented process in place. Your new hires will have something to refer back to when they get stuck or have questions, without having to feel like a pest for asking you or another team member for help.
4. Boost Morale
Employees understandably become frustrated when they feel like their voices aren’t heard and their opinions aren’t valued.
Focusing on process improvement requires you to listen closely to your team to figure out what processes just aren’t working.
Not only does that inclusion alone give them a boost, but needing to spend way less time on frustrating hurdles and inefficient processes will improve their spirits too.
Six Key Steps to Improve Your Own Processes
1. Spend Plenty of Time Observing
You can’t fix a problem unless you know it exists, so the first step here is to observe the way your team works.
Think of this as the identification stage. What are the repeated tasks and workflows your team follows?
A lot can get lost or forgotten when the workday gets busy. One of the best ways to get an accurate look at what processes your team relies on is by keeping a simple log of the big things you accomplish during a workday—and asking your team to do the same.
2. Map the Current Process
Start by mapping the process exactly as it exists right now.
This is a pretty straightforward but, it shows how writing out your existing processes allows you to immediately spot where time is being wasted or the process is falling short.
3. Identify Pinch Points and Solutions
Now you need to tear things down. Look at the process you just outlined and ask:
· Where are things getting stuck?
· Where are we wasting time?
· How could things be running smoother?
4. Map a New Process
Now you need to take what you’ve identified and use it to sketch out what your ideal workflow would look like so they move in a way that makes sense and leads to a far better product/service.
5. Gather Feedback and Questions
It’s important to remember that it’s your team members who are in the weeds with your process and work flow so you need to get their thoughts and opinions. Do they think this new process would work well? Even more importantly, do they spot any places where you could run into issues or bottlenecks?
Getting their insights before making this new process formal will not only include them in something that directly pertains to their workdays, but also allow you to foresee any process-related problems and take proactive, preventative action to correct them.
6. Document Your Finalised Process
Now you need to document your process - an area where many companies fall short so take the time to write down important processes for your team—so that you can all easily refer back to them (and update them!)