Businesses, organisations and teams use dozens of business-related processes every day. Many of these processes have evolved over time, whether as part of an organisation; business model or in support of an IT system.
Typically most these are not documented; well structured; and are inefficient.
For example; Why the 17-step process to raise a change request; the up-teen number of back and forths’ between HR and finance systems to get a purchase order approved; the customer service team that cannot deal with renewals but have to pass it onto another team. The list is endless.
We have all come across the results of these inefficient processes. Unhappy customers, stressed colleagues, missed deadlines, failing IT systems and increased costs. The results can be immense.
Too often the intent and the outcomes are completely different when organisations come to improve processes when they are not working well. The intent for process improvement programmes is that the processes are all designed to streamline the way that you and your team work together. The assumption is, that when everyone follows a well-tested set of processes, there are fewer errors and delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff and customers feel more satisfied.
Even before you start on process improvement; have you documented the end-to-end processes you want to improve? Have you mapped out the interdependencies between the processes and the upstream and downstream parts of the organisation that the process touches?
Sometimes, the process you are looking to improve can simply be eliminated. Replaced by other business processes or practices. This first step in this improvement is often missed.
So, what is at the heart of process improvement?
Process improvement involves the practice of identifying, analysing, improving existing business processes or replacing them; to optimise business performance and add value. This performance can be cost reduction, customer experience or employee experience improvements; or a combination of all three.
Process improvement techniques have multiple names such as; Business Process Management (BPM), Business Process Improvement (BPI), Business Process Re-Engineering, and Continual Service Improvement (CSI), to name a few. They all seek the same set of objectives: to minimise errors, reduce waste, improve productivity and streamline business efficiency.
Despite these common set of objectives, each has different focuses. Some, focus on lean process improvement techniques; others help companies visually map out process workflows; or focus on getting your company culture in the right place for process improvement. All are equally valid and have their place in the work of process improvement.
I am not going to go into detail, but here is a listing of the some of the most common methods around:
Cause and Effect analysis, PDCA (plan, do, check and act), Kaizen, Six Sigma, Value stream mapping (VSM), Total Quality Management (TQM), Kanban, Process mapping.
The approach you take is critical to the success of improving your critical business processes. Here at MDB Service Consulting, we have been supporting and helping numerous customers focus on how to improve their business processes; drive significant business change and deliver real value from their IT toolsets
We focus on the outcomes that customers want and then map back to the processes that need to change, adapt or be discontinued. We wrap this together with the business change, to aid adoption and understanding, underpinning these process improvements to deliver real business value. To find out how we can help you deliver real business value through improving processes and the way you work, get in touch with us.
Mike BraithwaiteManaging Director at MDB SERVICE CONSULTING LIMITED and ANTARES AUTOMATION LIMITED