Business processes, whether formal or informal, have a direct impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of your business. When business processes fail to deliver they not only waste time and money, they can also lead to poor service delivery and substandard product quality.
Business process improvement focuses on improving the quality, productivity and responsiveness of business processes by removing activities that do not add value and implementing process changes that clear the way for various forms of enhancement.
If you have a business process that’s raising some red flags, it’s time to take action. Follow this simple 6 step guide to get back on track:
Step 1: Map it out
Use information gathered from those who know the process best to document the steps and sub-steps of the process. Also consider using a mapping tool, like a flowchart, to create an easy to understand, visual representation of the process and its interdependencies.
Step 2: Identify the core issues
Do this by asking the following questions: Where in the process do things start falling apart? Are there any bottlenecks or roadblocks? Is there any duplication or redundancy? Which of the process steps take the longest to complete and why? Where are the dips in quality? Which of the process steps are the most costly? And can things be done in a more cost-effective way?
Without understanding the root cause, you run the risk of treating the symptoms of a problem instead of the problem itself.
Step 3: Change things up
Now that you know what the core issues are, you can redesign the process to eliminate them. However, you can’t do this alone. You need to collaborate with the people who are involved in the process.
Conduct brainstorming sessions to come up with a list of ideas. Then, critically evaluate each idea by looking at the possible risks and issues, the up- and downstream impacts, and by assessing how realistic the idea is within your business context.
Once you have a full understanding of each idea, choose the one that’s best suited to your needs.
Step 4: Define the resourcing requirements
Involve other departments to help you identify what you’ll need to bring this new process to life. HR will look at it from a people & skills perspective, while IT will confirm the technology changes that may be required. The wider your reach, the better informed your recommendation will be.
Then put all of your findings into a business case and use this to drive buy-in and support.
Step 5: Be the agent of change
Implementing a new process can be challenging, even if you’ve involved the right people and secured senior buy-in and support. You have to accept that some people are just going to be resistant to change.
Minimise the resistance with good planning and clear communication. You want to ensure that everyone understands why the change is needed, how it will benefit them and what will be needed of them (and others) to achieve it.
Step 6: Don’t stop there… improve!
Once you’ve finally managed to roll out your newly improved process, don’t just stop there. Remember to check in on how things are going.
Create a regular feedback forum where people can discuss challenges or suggest ideas to further improve, or consider implementing monitoring tools which can help you identify areas of ongoing concern.
As one of the more niche management consulting firms in South Africa, we pride ourselves on solving complex business challenges powerfully and efficiently with our tried and proven partnered approach and methodologies.
Analyze is also able to assist you in significantly improving your business processes. Get in touch today to find out how. Contact Cathy at Analyze on (0)21 447 5696 or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.