What is Operational Process Improvement all about? 

Improve business processes

Frequent questions

What is process improvement?

What happens during standard operational process improvement?

How can you optimize your company’s efficiency?

What is process improvement?

Process improvement is the practice of identifying, analyzing, and optimizing existing business practices. It will create a better user experience for your customers by improving your business’ efficiency.

During process improvement, a process management team will conduct a full analysis of a business’ process efficiency. This would typically include:

  1. Identify value;
  2. Identify pain points;
  3. Isolate the greatest impact;
  4. Drill down to root causes;
  5. Quantify problem statement; and
  6. Identify unique solution.

Let’s discuss each of this in a little more detail.

Identifying value

The first step in process improvement is understanding how your business delivers value to the customer. Delivering value to the customer is the ultimate goal of all the functions of a business. But not everything directly contributes to the delivery of that value. There are so many small obstacles or pain points inherent in most businesses. These delay the process of meeting customers’ needs and thus hinder growth.

A process management plan will identify and isolate those specific processes that directly deliver value to the customer. From there you can streamline and perfect those processes, in order that delivering value to your customers remains your first priority.

Hand mapping processes on pin board with string. Shows the mapping of process improvement

Identify value-adding and non-value-adding processes

Non-value adding processes are any part of the company’s processes that doesn’t align with your end goal. Through process improvement, this can be as simple as analyzing the gap between what you expected would happen because of a process and the reality of what is actually happening.

In some cases, certain processes do not necessarily deliver value but may be required. For example, a business may be required to meet certain standards legally, such as POPIA compliance or asking permission to communicate promotions. These requirements take time away from your business’ primary function and are possibly just making life difficult for the customer. To make life easier for both you and the customer, you can automate whatever is required. You can eliminate whatever is redundant.

After identifying where specific pain points are in, from a customer or employee perspective, it then becomes easier to isolate what isn’t working well. A business process management plan will lay out your processes like a map or blueprint, which allows you to see specific pain points in relation to the whole.   

Isolate the greatest impact

You can’t do everything. A process management plan will prioritize those pain points that have the most impact on the business’s functioning. Think of the 80-20 rule. 80% of the impact, comes from 20% of the causes. In this case, a pain point’s impact is determined by how much time and resources that process wastes that could be better utilized. You don’t fix all your pain points at once. Instead, you prioritize those that are delaying efficient processes the most and then work backwards.

Drill down to root causes

An operational process improvement plan will break a problem down into its bear elements to find the root cause of a pain point. Not only will this make the problem more digestible, but it will allow you to salvage all that is not inherently problematic. Separating structural causes from superficial causes will then become easier.

Quantify your problem statement

Once you’ve prioritized the pain points with the biggest impact, you can then quantify your problem statement. This specific and focused statement outlines what problem is being solved in the business, what opportunity is being created, and what impact it is going to have.  

A problem statement will also provide motivation to solve your problem. Motivation can come in many forms. However, financial motivation is often the most effective. The cost of fixing a process may be steep, but a process management plan is generally worth any cost when considering the impact. A clear problem statement will highlight the relative cost and benefit of solving a particular pain point in the process.

Identify unique solution

After quantifying your problem statement, the next step is finding a solution that increases efficiency. A process improvement team will identify new processes and streamline your existing operations using business process management principles.

In conclusion

Providing insight into business processing issues in a business is one of Analyze’s many strengths. We understand that businesses need processes, people, and technology. We don’t look at them separately. To improve your business process management, we know that all three factors need to support one another. We understand that there’s an efficient way of going about business. To support it, you need efficient processes.  

We are able to come in and look at your business from above. We see your business’ blueprint and give a little insight. Analyze helps organizations transform their operations to reach their optimal state.

If you’d like to chat to us about helping your organisation better understand and improve your operational processes , give us a call on 021 447 5696 or email us on info@analyze.co.za.  Our team of skilled business consultants have experience across a wide variety of technologies, delivery approaches and industries, ensuring that we will help you improve your business.

So go on, give us your biggest challenge!

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Norma-Jean is a Principal Consultant at Analyze Consulting. She has experience in both corporate and consulting firms which has exposed her to a multitude of projects of varying complexity and scope. She heads up our process analysis competency.

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