Business process improvement is the developing of a systematic approach to helping an organization optimize its underlying processes to achieve more efficient results. It is the methodology for process redesign and process reengineering. It is a systematic way for businesses to become organized as they grow and develop by looking at their current processes, documenting them, identifying areas for improvement, and then implementing any necessary changes to help them reach their goals and objectives.
Any type of entity can implement a process improvement change, as long as there is a need for improvement. And the change does not always have to be a major overhaul of how the entire company functions. Remember you can focus on a process or a product. Examples of often implemented process improvement projects includes: revamping a new product to meet customer’s needs, implementing a new software that can integrate with various other systems currently in use or re-structuring how you accounting department functions and implementing more controls into your policies and procedures.
Regardless of who is doing it and why, there are five simple and basic steps to business process improvements.
The first step of any process improvement is to assess is situation. Take a look at your current processes, policies and procedures. How are things currently working? Are they operating efficiently? What steps are followed in the current procedures? Do you they generate optimal results? These are just a few of the key questions you need to answer. The key to this step is to not try and solve the issue. You only want to document the “as is”; regardless of whether it is right, wrong or indifferent.
The identification step of this process is where you document process successes and failures. This is where you will make note of all the areas in your business that are sucking the cash out of your business. You will look at accounts receivable and accounts payable. How your jobs are performing and if you are experiencing job scheduling time lags. You will also make note of everything is working wonderfully. It’s not just about the negative but also about the positive.
Now that you have documented your current system and identified the good and the bad, time to define your desired goal. What does your ideal situation look like? This is the step where you get to paint the picture of how you desire for things to be and how you want this new system to look. Set your scope and parameters, no matter how small or wide. And don’t forget to determine how long it will take to get to this new desired result. A good process improvement plan is only as good as the amount of time it takes to get it up and running.
This is probably the step most people look forward to. Creating the process flow of how you are going to reach your desired goal. These are the step-by-step instructions on how you are we going to get there. You will take the define procedures in step three and create the strategy. Be sure that your timeline is based around the annual goals of the company. Create the steps of each phase individually and then bridge them together. This is your map so be clear and concise. Be sure that every detail is addresses. And don’t be afraid to designate and delegate. Enroll whoever you can that would be an asset to this process.
Finally, take action! You have the plan; now follow the steps. Implementation is the key to any type of change. And if you find that something isn’t working start the process again.
Do you have any areas in your business that could use a business process improvement? Have you tried implementing a process change yourself? What success stories or learning points can you share?
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