Why even tackle process improvement?
At some point in the life of any company, you will have a problem with one of your business processes. It could be for any of these reasons:
- It takes too long for something to move through a process lifecycle;
- Unnecessary activities are taking place within the process;
- The current process has a great potential for errors;
- Your company is now dealing with compliance issues that need to be addressed;
- You currently manage your processes on paper so you have minimal traceability;
- You are looking for new ways to improve productivity;
- You are looking to mitigate risk and improve your decision quality.
Where do you start?
What does the problem process look like? Interview your stakeholders to uncover your existing process. When you have it documented, follow it through your organization to be sure that it is correct. Often, different people have different views of the process.
Make sure you understand what happens in an emergency. How do people shortcut the process when necessary?
When you are sure that you have it right, measure how long that process takes. Make sure that you use metrics that can objectively be measured. You now have an empirical view of your current process.
This exercise should teach you a lot about your process and your people.
Next, coming up with ways to improve your process…