Organizational fatigue has set in regarding launching large-scale re-engineering and process improvement efforts. The time and resources it takes to carry out a major re-haul of processes is daunting. Besides, too many organizations have experienced too little benefit from these massive efforts.
The solution to this challenge, however, should not be inaction. Crafting business processes which lead to effective and efficient operations is critical. The key, for many organizations, is to launch a few short business process sessions in order to identify a critical few new or revised processes that will make a difference.
Below is an easy three step process for quickly putting business process wins in place:
Definition of Business Process
A business process is a series of actions or procedures designed to produce a product or service. It is a general (high-level) approach to completing specific work activities.
Criteria for Quality Business Processes
Clear and consistent business processes should:
- Encourage accountability at all levels.
- Improve customer satisfaction through more efficient business practices.
- Establish clear roles for employees to avoid confusion.
- Reduce redundancy in work.
- Customize solutions for different customers.
- Improve communication between functions.
Steps for Establishing and Aligning Business Processes
- Step One: Analyze
- Identify the major strengths and weaknesses of the current processes
- Objective: To utilize best practice and avoid pain points
- Step Two: Brainstorm
- Brainstorm options re: new and aligned processes
- Objective: To ensure you dig deep and generate many ideas
- Step Three: Select
- Assess options against criteria and select the critical few new processes
- Objective: To ensure that we are adopting useful processes
For example, I guided an operations team through this three step process. As a result of three, half-day meetings we came up with a dozen new and revised processes that were designed to have a big impact on quality and speed. The new processes addressed everything from how the team accessed resources, to how they interacted with internal customers.
They key to success was to avoid getting bogged down on details. The team knew first-hand where the pain points lie and I simply helped them quickly identify fixes.
One might argue that a more in depth process re-engineering effort involving dozens of staff over a period of months would have resulted in larger wins. Perhaps in theory it would have. However, in reality that would have never happened. Leadership was not prepared to invest in a large scale process effort. However, the entire organization was very happy with our quick wins…
General Questions to Consider When Identifying Business Process Changes
Finally, here are some to consider when identifying business process changes. Answering these questions will help ensure that you establish business processes which are successful:
- What tasks do employees perform today and what tasks do we want employees to perform in the future?
- What observable behaviors will employees be expected to display?
- How will interrelationships between your work group and other work groups change?
- How will the timing and/or sequence of projects or tasks change?
- What completion timelines need to be built into business processes?
Note: The views expressed in this blog are my opinions and do not reflect the views of my employer.