Improve Your Business Processes

After several weeks of strategizing, planning and requirements gathering, you’ll be ready to discover pain points and opportunities for improvement. In other words, you’re ready to begin business process reengineering.

During business process mapping, you may have already captured a significant amount of pain points, but now is the time to formally document them and outline process improvements.

Some projects involve more process improvement than others. If you already have optimized processes, your scope of change will be rather small. On the other hand, if you need to transform your entire operating model, your scope of change will be significant. Most organizations fall somewhere along this spectrum. While they may not improve all their processes, they’ll improve the processes related to their competitive advantage.

When performing business process reengineering, you will need to look at things as an outsider: Are you using industry best practices? Are there processes that seem redundant?

An outside set of eyes is usually best for this, but you should be involved too as you know your business better than anyone.

An example of this is one of our clients in the medical field that wanted to save money. Going digital and getting the latest equipment was their answer. While this did have some effects on the bottom line, it was not as influential as expected so an outside contractor was brought in to help. The contractor utilized some basic Six Sigma tools, and after two days of observation, was able to increase the overall efficiency of the blood lab department by roughly 20%.

Once you’ve determined your scope of change, you can begin process improvement. Using your current state process map, you’ll document pain points, which will translate into additional requirements, such as “the ability to edit a sales order after submission.”

Documenting pain points is an opportunity to set baselines for benefits realization. For example, if you know how much time sales reps spend on a particular workaround, you can measure time savings after implementation.

While improving your processes, be sure to document the impact of each process change. Will employees need to be trained? Will employees need to be re-skilled because their processes have been automated? Answering these questions will help you communicate with employees and reduce change resistance.

Process improvement is most effective when you know what goals you’re trying to accomplish. If your goal is to improve your customer experience, ask customers how they want to interact with your organization. Do they want a web portal? Do they want a better mobile experience? Do they want something as simple as order tracking? Customers and vendors alike will be affected by your new system so it is important to gather their thoughts and ideas as well.

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning

Bill Gates

Many process improvements can be implemented without technology. If this is the case for you, consider introducing these new processes before implementing ERP software. Why wait to improve the way your business operates?

Besides improving the customer experience, organizations use process improvement to break down functional silos and increase operational efficiencies. If this is your goal, be sure to focus on the hand-offs between functions. For example, when optimizing your supply chain processes, you should evaluate your application infrastructure.

According to Gartner,

“Most supply chain management groups have fragmented portfolios of functionally independent applications and not seamlessly integrated applications.” In fact, respondents to Gartner research identify weak cross-functional collaboration as one of the top five barriers to their supply chain success.*