It happens in every business at some stage… you realise that your processes are inefficient, laborious, and starting to cost money. So how do you fix them?
Here’s a step by step guide to business process improvement, to help you on you way.
Step 1: Map the Process
Get your team together and document the system that’s already in place. Using a big roll of butcher’s paper on the meeting room wall can be a good way of doing this, or a whiteboard that allows you to print. Make sure you capture the true picture of what’s happening, not just what SHOULD be happening.
Step 2: Find out where you can improve the Process
Analyse the process. Where are the inefficiencies? What steps are unnecessary, or could be done better? Where can the business save time? You need to set measurable targets.
Again, a collaborative approach is likely to bring about the best results. Remember who’s affected by any changes you are going to make – including them in the decision-making procedure will lead to a much better buy in.
Step 3: Write the new Process
Remember, keep it simple, easy to read and user-friendly. It must also have measurable outcomes, so you can track your progress.
Ensure that your new process really is an improvement. Can you demonstrate time savings? Have you eliminated the inefficiencies? Does it achieve the desired result? Keep re-working the process until you’re confident it answers these questions.
Step 4: Plan the implementation of the new Process
Do you need any extra resources to make the change happen? If you require a cash injection, you may need to prepare a business case to convince all the stakeholders.
Step 5: Implement and communicate the new Process
You may need to arrange training for all the people affected by the new process. This is another reason why collaboration is such an important part of the procedure – we know that people are resistant to change, but if they have been integral to the change and see the benefits, they’ll be prepared to come along for the ride.
You also need to explain the benefits of the changes to all the affected staff – how does this make their life better? Will it have a direct impact, or is it more about the flow-on benefits of being employed by a business that’s performing well? Tell them, clearly and honestly.
Step 6: Review the new process
Have the changes had the effect you planned? Can they be improved even further?
You need to set measurable targets and check whether you’re hitting them. You must always be able to know if the process has gone backwards, and as soon as possible.
Moreover, business processes should always be subject to change – if you find a better way of doing something, change your process again! Reviewing your processes should be an ongoing project.
Breaking down the Process into steps like that makes it sound relatively simple, doesn’t it? Of course, in real life it will always be harder, and there will be people trying to block the path of progress. Sometimes you need outside help to get things done.
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.