Improving Business Processes
Streamlining Tasks to Improve Efficiency
from Mind Tools.com 9/13 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Since Operations (processes) are 80% of your Business [BusinessInsider.com], they should be high on your Priorities for Improvement.
Once you’re into somewhat of a stable situation, you’ve probably setup processes in a system, to make your business flow smoothly. For example, you may go through the same steps each time you qualify a new Customer, book an order, advise manufacturing (internal or external), order materials, produce the product, test & inspect it to assure the highest quality, ship it to the Customer and contact some customers for feedback. You’ve likely come across the results of “inefficient” processes, too. Unhappy customers, stressed colleagues, missed deadlines, & increased costs are just some of the problems that dysfunctional processes can create. That’s why it’s so important to improve processes when they are not working well. In this article, we’ll look at how you can do this.
About Business Processes. They can be formal or informal. Formal processes – also known as procedures – are documented, and have well-established steps. Informal processes are more likely to be ones that you have created yourself, and you may not have written them down. For example, you might have your own set of steps for considering Requested Action (ie, clarify, verify, determine priority) carrying out Market Research, or communicating new Opportunities. Consider making some Notes or do a Checklist on these, to make it easier to do each time and make sure you don’t forget anything.
The Importance of Efficient Processes. These different kinds of processes have one thing in common: they’re all designed to streamline the way that you and your employees work. When everyone follows a well-tested set of steps, there are fewer errors & delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff & customers feel more satisfied. Processes that don’t work can lead to numerous problems. For example: Customers may complain about poor product Quality or bad Service, Colleagues get frustrated. Work may be duplicated, or not done, Costs increase. Resources are wasted & Bottlenecks can develop, causing you to miss deadlines.
Improving your Team’s Processes. When you encounter some of the problems mentioned above, it may be time to review & update the relevant process. Follow these steps to do this:
Step 1: Map the Process. Once you’ve decided which process you want to improve, document each step using a Flowchart. This tool shows the steps in the process visually. It’s important to explore each phase in detail, as some processes may contain sub-steps that you’re not aware of. Talk to Process Owners or people who use the process regularly to ensure that you don’t overlook anything important.
Step 2: Analyze the Process. Use your Flow Chart to investigate the problems within the process. Consider the following questions:
Where do team members or customers get frustrated?
Which of these steps creates a bottleneck?
Where do costs go up and/or quality go down?
Which of these steps requires the most time, or causes the most delays?
[ Step 2 Analysis continued, 3.ReDesign, 4.Brain-Storming, 5.Acquire Resources, 6.Implement, & 7.Review Process in Premium Content ]