Regardless of what type of business you have, you have a business process. The question is… Is that process working for you? The end result of the process is some type of product, whether a commodity or service, that is tied to your Return of Investment (ROI). So today we’ll discuss business process tips to start using right now.
Review your current process
A critical part of your business process management is to regularly evaluate the process to determine what works and what doesn’t work. Even if the process is working smoothly, you should be asking if there are ways to improve that will boost your ROI. Some factors that may be costing you money as a result of an inefficient or outdated process include:
- Wasting material
- Wasting time
- Employee turnover
- Workplace injuries
- Customer dissatisfaction
The first action you should take is to form a cross-functional team of key employees to get their input. They are ones that are performing the day-to-day processes and can provide insight as to steps that cause waste. You want employees from different departments because each step in the process affects other departments. Too many people from the same department can also create tunnel vision. You may discover that one department is happy with their part of the process, but another department isn’t because they have to continually wait on or fix discrepancies from other departments.
Also keep in mind that frustrated employees are more likely to quit, costing you money because of training their replacements. Engaged employees are also more likely to care about waste and speak up about it.
You should also have a set timeframe for these reviews. The frequency will depend on the intricacies of your product and how rapidly technology changes, but don’t set them in stone. You’ll want to move that evaluation up if you’re seeing continued or an increase in customer complaints, employee turnover, employee injuries, or any other red flag then.
Fine-tune your process map
A process map is a visual tool that shows a diagram of the steps that make up a process. You have a map of the overall company process, but you can also have more detailed maps that show the tasks for each department. These maps are helpful, especially when training new, promoted, or reassigned employees. They can also be a stumbling block if they are outdated or too detailed. Pay attention to what employees say during the review process. Many times, their complaints stem from the process map itself. Some tips for fine-tuning your process map are:
- Keep it simple. Too many details can cause confusion.
- Break it down by tasks.
- Weed out unnecessary details.
- Look for duplications and overlaps and determine if they can be eliminated.
- If the map contains an excess of exceptions (what to do if…), consider creating an index or separate document to declutter the map.
- Before discarding any step, ask if removing it will create a risk factor for safety or violate any governing regulations.
Set goals for improvement based on new processes
Setting goals for improvement is a practice you should already be doing as part of your overall business plan and objectives but is also a good tool for measuring the success of your business process. Remember to include desired improvements based on areas of concern identified during the evaluation. These goals can be either a set number, percentage, or a mixture of both. Also, set a timeline for reaching these goals.
Share these goals with employees so they are clear about expectations and celebrate reaching these goals with them as encouragement of a job well done. Make sure, however, that your goals are realistic so that everyone is on board with achieving these goals. Without engagement, your employees won’t care if these goals are met. You can offer incentives to employees or departments as a way of encouraging them to meet these goals.
These business process tips to start using right now will get you on the right track for improvement. This process, however, should not be static. Consider the following steps as you move forward and continue looking for ways to improve your business process:
- Acquire a software tool that will manage this process.
- Continue to gather feedback from employees and customers.
- Continue to focus on improvement.
- Set new goals as the current goals are met.
As you work through this process, keep in mind that every business is different. It’s ultimately up to you to consider your company’s specific goals and objectives when working through any business process. Implement these tips now and keep working towards improvement to increase your company’s success.