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Steps For Improving Your Business Process

You more than likely use several business processes each day. For example, you may use the same steps every time you resolve a customer issue or complaint, generate reports, manufacture or create a new product, or establish potential clients.

You’ve more than likely encountered problems due to inefficient processes, as well. Over-stressed co-workers, displeased customers, and fluctuating cost, are just a few problems encountered from relying on dysfunctional processes

That is why it is important to monitor and make improvements to processes that are not continuously working well with your company. A business process is task or activities set to accomplish specific goals by an organization.

Business processes can be informal or formal depending upon the nature of the organization. Formal methods (also referred to as procedures) have solidly established steps and are well-documented. What are the steps for improving your business process and how hard is it to implement them?

Informal and formal processes

Most companies have well-documented established procedures in departments such as submitting invoices, paper less employee hour management, receiving the product, and creating and developing a relationship with new clients, that are related to formal processes.

Formal processes are genuinely important when safety-related, financial, or legal reasons,are the meaning for following precise steps. Informal processes are simple steps you have created on your own to implement measuresthat you have no need to document.

An example of this is designing your course of action for market research, implementing new leads, and meeting activities. Just because one process starts off informal doesn’t mean it must remain at the level. After proper research, you may feel you need to turn a process into a formal action to improve productivity.

The need for Efficient Processes

The different types of operations have one main thing in common; their purpose is to streamline the path in which you and your team operate. When each person follows the fixed set of steps, there are fewer delays and errors, duplicated effort and a rise in customer and staff satisfaction.

Unsuccessful processes lead to many problems, such as:

  • Increased amount of dissatisfied customers
  • Complaints of bad service and poor quality in products
  • Frustrated co-workers
  • Unfinished work
  • Duplicated work
  • Increased cost
  • Wasted resources
  • Missed deadlines

With these type problems, it is important that you stop and analyze ways to make corrections by reviewing and updating the important process.  The following are suggestions on how you can take steps towards improving your business process to achieve improved results.

Map the process

Once you have determined which process needs improving, make documentation of each phase using a diagram or flowchart. Each of these tools displays the proper steps to take by way of a visual platform and are ideal for processes that involve groups or several people.

It’s vital to explore and implement each phase in high detail, as many processes contain sub-steps that you may not be aware of their existence. Also, consult with others who are familiar with the process who can guide you to ensure you don’t omit anything that is important.

Creating useful and accurate process maps requires a lot of resources and time. However, these type maps are relevant to any management efforts for evaluating and improving steps within the organization.

Analyze processes

Take advantage of powerful software on the market to aid you in investigating problems with the process. Break down the problems by answering these questions:

  • Which steps creates bottlenecking?
  • What areas do customers and team members get frustrated?
  • Which step causes delays and demands the most time
  • At what point does quality go down as cost rise?

Ask why

While the initial process map is under construction, question why certain steps performedare done this way. Chances are you will get the same response from everyone, “This is how we’ve always done it.” Asking the question “why” typically reveals a good starting place for improvements.

Be prepared for revisions

The first process map completion is merely a rough draft. Don’t expect to get everything right on the first try. In fact, the more you analyze the process map while lining up management and workers, the more wrinkles will appear that need ironing out.

Expect Resistance

Beware of and expect resistance. Feeling defensive and often protective is human nature, especially if an employee feels their job is in jeopardy. Employees view change and the mapping process with improvements in the making as a means for leaders to reduce employment and payroll. It is vital that you explain the benefits and purpose of the project before beginning to ensure company morale.

It is best to make the general approach offering the message that improvements are necessary to remain competitive which contributes to providing jobs. Resistance is likely to take place at the beginning of the mapping process; you should examine carefully what is occurring at each step to confirm what reports say is happening versus what is being done to establish an accurate map.

Create simple maps

Process maps are often very complicated and involved but creating maps with much detail may be necessary to some organizations. Begin with a high-level representation and gradually break each step down until a meaningful analysis can occur. It is never a good idea to make a single map so complicated that it ‘s hard to communicate and understand.

To determine where the breakdown for relaying information can be difficult. With upper management, it may be appropriate for high-level maps because those employees are typically concerned with where the handoff occurs between departments.

Increased detail may be substantial when training employees or educating middle management who need to be aware of resources necessary and where the changes may occur.

Welcome Input

Invite input from every level of the organization. It is important that you solicit input fromalllevels of employees to get a birds-eye view of the process. Conduct open and closed meetings and interviews with those in the actual line of duty and as well as those who hold management positions. Remember, it takes an entire team to create productivity, not just one division of the company.

Be present and vigilant in walking the process to observe the strategies and techniques in question to get a clear picture of what changes will enhance production and overall success. Seeing the process yourself will give you first-hand experience instead of taking the word of others who may not be as keen on the changes needed.

There are times when information passed on through line workers, front-line employees and staff, and the data collected, can be misleading or wrong. What you see and what you hear may not match, and if this is the case, you need to investigate the discrepancies. With direct follow-up and observation, you very well could discover  why the original process failed as it did.

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