The demand to improve your business continues to increase as expectations change, new technologies emerge and competition grows. An effective way to establish continual improvement within your organization is to conduct regular business process improvements (BPI).
Business processes can be informal or formal and touch a variety of company functions: information technology, employee development and training, customer service satisfaction, etc. Regardless of the process you are trying to enhance, the improvement procedure follows a similar path. Today’s post will cover the four steps in the business process improvement cycle.
- Identify the need for change:
The first step in the BPI process is to identify the need for change. A useful way to discover improvement opportunities is by conducting a process audit. The audit will identify current issues or potential risks for your company. From the audit report you will be able to prioritize your areas for business improvement. At this stage, you should also review how each process impacts your organization, resources and stakeholders (employees, customers, students, partners, suppliers, etc.).
- Analyze current process:
Once you have decided which process you are going to improve you need analyze the current procedure. This way you can fully understand the process from A-Z and set realistic improvement objectives. Regardless of the tool you choose for analysis (process mapping, operational surveys, cause/effect analysis, etc.) you should consider the following questions:
- What in the process is broken?
- Which steps in the process create roadblocks?
- Which step requires the most time to complete?
- Which step causes the most delays?
- Are there any steps that cause costs/resources to go up?
- Are there any steps that cause quality to go down?
- Obtain commitment and support:
The third step in the process is to solicit senior management commitment. This is possibly the single-most important element in the process as the success of the project hinges on managerial support. At this stage you need to clearly present the necessity for change and how it impacts the organization. It is crucial that management understands the need for change to ensure they will support recommendations. As process improvement can be time and resource intensive upper-management support is a must.
- Create improvement strategy:
With the process analysis phase completed you need to develop your strategy. It is recommended that you include what steps in the process are broken, why and how they should be improved and any financial and resource implications. Answering how the process can be improved is a springboard to create your improvement objectives. It is recommended that you set realistic and measurable objectives that align with your overall strategic goals.