We all use many business processes daily without even realizing it. From the car manufacturing plant to the service oriented businesses such as banking, telecoms etc – processes are pivotal in the successful implementation of any business strategy. If you go through the same steps every time you sell a product, attend to a customer or contact a new client, then you are familiar with business processes. You’ve likely come across the results of inefficient processes too.
Business processes (both formal and formal) that are not periodically reviewed stifle business growth, create disgruntled customers, unhappy staff, missed deadlines, increased costs and loss of revenue – and could indeed lead to business failure.
That’s why it’s very important to review and improve your processes regularly to keep your business from bottlenecks that result in loss of time and money.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EFFICIENT PROCESSES
Business processes have one important thing in common: they are developed to streamline your work and make life easier for you and your team. When an organization operates a well thought out process, there are fewer errors and delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff and customers are more likely to be satisfied with the output – products or services.
Some of the problems that may arise due to faulty processes include:
• Inferior products
• Increased costs
• Wasted resources
• Missed deadlines
• Customer complaints
• Frustrated Staff
• Duplicated or unfinished work
IMPROVING YOUR BUSINESS PROCESSES
When you encounter some of the problems mentioned above, it may be time to review and update your Company’s business process. Follow these steps to do this:
Step 1: Map the Process
Document each process using a Flowchart. It’s important to explore each phase in detail, as some processes may contain sub-steps that you’re not aware of.
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?
Root cause analysis will help you trace the problems to their origins. This is important because, if you only fix the symptoms, the problems will return in the same or another format. Questionnaires and interviews help collect feedback from the people who are affected by the process. What do they think is wrong with it? And what suggestions do they have for improving it? You may find that the saying “Who feels it, knows it” is also true in business process improvement. The people more affected by a bottleneck typically have good ideas on good fixes.
Step 3: Redesign the Process
Work with the people who are directly involved in the process because their ideas may reveal new approaches. They are also more likely to embrace change if they are involved at an early stage. The aim here will be to redesign the process to eliminate the ineffective steps or introduce some innovation/technology that improves overall efficiency.
Step 4: Acquire Resources
The next step is to secure the resources you need to implement the new process. List everything that you’ll need to do this. Communicate with the departments involved and make sure that they understand how these new processes will benefit the organization as a whole. You may need to prepare a business case to demonstrate this.
Step 5: Implement and Communicate Change
It’s likely that improving your business process will involve changing existing systems, teams, or processes. For example, you may need to organize training for the staff affected or deploy new software. Implementing a new process can be a project in itself (change management), so you have to plan and manage this carefully. Allocate time for dealing with issues that may arise and consider running a pilot first, to check for potential problems. Keep in mind that change is not always easy. People may be resistant to it, especially when it involves a process that they’ve been using for some time. The transition curve is a very useful tool to use here in helping people embrace change.
Step 6: Review the Process
Monitor how things are going in the first few months after you rolled out your new processes to ensure that they are performing to expectation. This monitoring will also allow you to fix cogs as they come up.
Make it a priority to ask the people involved with the new process how it’s working, and if they are experiencing any problems.
Be ready to continually improve your processes as small improvements made regularly will ensure that the process stays relevant and efficient.
INL specializes in Business Process review for leading organizations, we can help you review your faulty processes and develop new ones that would make your business more efficient and profitable. To contact us for a quote, please CLICK HERE