Business processes should not be changed simply for the sake of change. When we are looking to make process changes the reason must be to improve business performance and customer experience. If your changes will not impact these critical measurements, then you need to ask why you are making them.
Making incremental changes to business processes can allow you to create a more responsive organization.
Business process improvement (BPI) works best when it undertakes these activities:
- Understanding – when you understand the organization you are able to align processes and activities in order to support the organizational goals
- Setting objectives – when objectives and expected outcomes, such as reducing customer wait times, improving service levels, reducing time to market, are identified, it is possible to measure your success in improving these
- Identifying processes – selecting a limited number of processes that need to be changed or optimized will help you prioritize your starting point
- Understanding current process flow – when you evaluate the current process to identify gaps or bottlenecks you can then use these findings to come up with recommendations for improvement
- Design and implement – rollout of new processes should be phased to reduce risk; start with small groups so you are able to visualize the impact of your changes and then make adjustments before making it widely available
- Measure –asses the outcomes of your improvements against your previous state to ensure that the desired outcomes have been achieved
- Iterate the process – continually improve and enhance the business process
There are some critical factors that must be in place if your business process improvement initiative is to be successful.
- Clearly articulate your desired outcomes – if you are not clear about what you are expecting to achieve you will not be able to measure the outcomes of your BPI efforts
- Leadership – without the support of the appropriate management you are very unlikely to have a successful BPI outcome. Process improvement will involve and impact multiple teams across an organization, so you will need a clear mandate from all affected business leaders
- Engage your stakeholders – you need to bring all affected employees on the BPI journey from conception to ongoing optimization
- Innovate – Do not miss out on opportunities to innovate, no matter how small or large. You need to constantly look for the ways that new technology and methodology can help improve your business performance
- Prepare for change – ensure that everything from announcements to training material is planned. Everyone who needs to be aware of what is happening must be effectively communicated with
BPI is not a one-off exercise; it needs to be part of how you work every day. As part of your daily routine you need to be asking “how can we improve?” Use the answers to this question to drive your next process improvement.