We all know that Process Improvement in a business will increase efficiency and productivity, while also driving profits. We also know that if we can implement Process Improvement properly, our lives and the lives of our staff will be easier and our careers more fulfilling. So why is it so hard to do?
Actually, it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Businesses that successfully improve processes are the businesses that have a focus on continuous improvement… it all comes down to the culture of the organisation. While people generally want to make things better, it probably won’t happen unless the culture also embraces improvement.
So what are the 5 things that every business needs to provide, to succeed at Process Improvement?
1. Active Leadership
Your leaders need to be on board right from the beginning, demonstrating that there’s an issue which needs addressing.
Here are some ideas to help you convince your leaders that Process Improvement is necessary in your organisation:
- Supply them with evidence. It may be a customer survey, or feedback from staff that shows a genuine sore spot in the business.
- Appoint a Process Officer and Process Champions to communicate their vision. This assigns responsibilities within the organisation and demonstrates the team’s commitment.
- Get the leadership group out among the people, so staff see and hear firsthand how Process Improvement can help them and the business.
2. Power to the People
Your staff need to be engaged and empowered, to ensure Process Improvement is successful. Remember, they’re the real process owners.
You need to name your Process Owners and Process Experts, and get them working together to find where the improvements should be made. Updating those processes has to be easy and achievable, and the people with the most to gain from that are the ones who use the processes. Collaboration is absolutely essential.
Remember that Process Improvement is an ongoing project, so staff need to know they can continue to contribute to improvement long into the future.
3. Keep the Momentum Going
Plenty of projects in a business start off with a bang, but many of them fizzle out over time and bad old practices start creeping back in. You need to set up a structure and a schedule to keep improving processes, if you want to avoid that.
Make sure you collaborate and remain inclusive. Have a ‘Process Forum’ for the ongoing sharing of ideas — and make sure you hold it regularly, including all the right stakeholders.
You can also hold Process Improvement Workshops, to ensure all staff get to share ideas. The Process Officer, Process Champions, Process Experts and Process Owners can all be assigned responsibilities to keep these workshops going.
4. Don’t get bogged down with unhelpful documentation
Written processes are crucial to the success of these projects, but poorly written processes can be a disaster.
The best documented processes are simple to read and easy to follow. If they can’t be understood within 10 seconds of reading, staff will think they’re unhelpful and won’t use them. That can set you back.
So get your documentation right. Ask someone else to read it, or several people, and make sure they can understand and interpret it. If they can’t, you need to start again.
It’s also vital to ensure all the necessary information is in the documents, with ancillary information or links readily accessible.
5. Communicate what you’re aiming to achieve
Good communication starts with correct selection of Process Champions. They must be accessible, communicative and know the processes of your organisation inside out. And they must be willing to live up to the title of Process Champion, working towards the common goal.
It’s important to celebrate your successes. Communicate any measurable milestones that are achieved and single out people or groups for praise.
Of course, make sure everyone is kept updated with process changes. All stakeholders need to be informed at all times.
Finally, to value add: foster the spirit of competition between different work teams. In this way, Process Improvement is also a team building exercise.
GrowEQ can point you on the road to Process Improvement. Ring Liz on 0411 829 963 to see how we can help you to build better business processes, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.