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What is process improvement?

Business process improvement helps companies operate in an efficient and effective manner. It is an important part of any company’s strategic business plan and it is all about ensuring that everything runs smoothly. Old habits may be holding your company back from achieving its true potential. Inefficient processes waste 26% of an employee’s day on average (the-cfo.io). Applying lean principles like Kaizen, Total Quality Management (TQM) or Six Sigma to your company’s processes can boost product sales, customer satisfaction, and your employees’ quality of life. Continuous improvement will help your company capitalize on the latest technology that the market has to offer. Business process workflows should be refined and improved as the business requirements increase.

Steps for business process improvement

Business processes often suffer from misunderstandings which lead to confusion among employees. Poorly designed processes are often a result of business owners that focus on quantity over quality. Companies should look to improve their business process to increase employee engagement, shorten delivery times, or boost team productivity. There are many techniques used to make process improvements. The three main components of a successful process improvement initiative are planning, execution, and evaluation. There are five steps to implementing process improvement. The steps are to define, analyze, design, implement, and monitor. This is sometimes referred to as the PDCA cycle which stands for plan, do, act, check.

1. Select the business processes that can be improved

The first step of business process improvement is to decide which current process you would like to improve. Selecting the right process may include looking at metrics to find underperforming areas of your company, talking to your employees, and performing process audits. Assuming that everything at your company is working well is a dangerous mindset to have, management will often have no insight into the inefficiencies going on at their company. 

process that can be improved but aren't

A common improbable process is one that creates bottlenecks in your company’s overall workflow. Bottlenecks happen when one step of a larger process slows everything down because it is not able to handle the capacity it receives. This results in large backlogs and stressed-out employees. They can sometimes affect an entire company from top to bottom. Resolving bottlenecks will have the biggest positive impact on your company’s metrics. 

2. Define the objective of the business process improvement

The next step is to perform an in-depth analysis of your selected process. Think about the constraints of the project and how/if they can be changed. Some processes may be constrained by money or manpower. If this is the case, explore the possibilities of increasing access to resources. Defining the objectives of the process will help you understand what changes need to be made for proper business process improvement. Meeting with the team responsible for the process will provide insight into why the process is inefficient and help work out what changes need to be made.

While it is good to do your own research, using evidence-based process measures along with tried and true business process maps can be a great starting point for new improvements. Many of the processes at your company are ones that are common in the industry. Learning how your competitors have improved their processes will help you keep up in an ever-evolving market.

3. Deploy your changes

After deciding what changes will be made, it is time to put them into action. Once your changes are up and running, be sure to check if your process improvements actually keep up after deployment. Some changes might be short-lived and your company could go right back to the same inefficiencies it was doing before. This can be avoided by involving your teams in process changes. By making sure that they understand what the change does and why it was made, your team will buy into the improvement and execute the change.

If your team does not agree with the change, it is important to hear them out and listen to their reasoning. People who work with the process every day will have the most knowledge of its inner workings. Your team should be trained and educated in implementing the change, and metrics should be established to measure its success. Employees should be clearly assigned their roles in the change so that everyone knows what their responsibilities are. This will help maintain accountability and reduce conflicts in your organization. 

4. Test the Improvements

Once your changes are deployed, you should thoroughly test them to ensure you are making the right decision. Tests should cover every possible trigger event, circumstance, and decision to ensure that nothing is missed. Never rush the testing process or cut any corners. After testing and receiving feedback, your new process can be further optimized. It is best to wait a couple of days, weeks, or months before making any major changes. 

If you do not feel confident in your improved process, it is best to wait until you do before implementing them. Learning from failures is very important when improving processes. Failures can help you understand the processes in a way you did not before, and may give you new ideas that you can implement across your company. 

Business Process Improvement Your Organization Can Make

Every business has current processes that could use some improvement. Various organizations can benefit from business process improvement and the rewards it brings. Process mapping will help identify these areas where improvements can be made. Some companies may choose to hire full-time or part-time process engineers who can help identify these needs and implement changes. Common process improvement examples are minimizing system downtime, shortening approval processes, duplicate tasks, and excessive emailing (forbes.com). Some other examples of process improvement are listed below:

business process improvement

1. Employee Onboarding Process

Onboarding is the process of transitioning new hires or current employees into a new role within an organization. Hiring managers need to consider a multitude of factors such as employee qualifications and the needs of the company when implementing an onboarding process. The process might include steps like documentation/paperwork, welcome packages, account setup, a synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid model of training, and continuous support for new hires. These steps must be completed in a specific order and in a timely manner to ensure that the onboarded employee can get to work as soon as possible. The onboarding process may require input from multiple departments such as human resources, legal teams, and information services

2. Employee Offboarding Process

Offboarding is the business process of guiding employees who are leaving an organization or team. All important tasks should be taken care of before an employee leaves. Offboarding should ensure that your outgoing employees leave feeling comfortable and supported. Automating the offboarding process allows your company to efficiently provide your employees with everything they need to move on. Building a strong employer brand can reduce employee turnover by 28% (businessnewsdaily.com). A smooth offboarding process will increase the chance of employees coming back in the future and increase high-quality referrals for available positions. 

3. Incident Management Process

The incident management process outlines the steps that are taken to document and resolve incidents at your organization. This could happen through phone calls to a help desk or a self-service ticketing system. Incidents should be logged, categorized, triaged, and then assigned to the most suitable resolver or resolver group. Resolution times should meet service-level agreements (SLA), so getting things resolved in a timely manner is important. Common incidents should have pre-made resolution workflows to minimize resolution times while simple issues can be completely automated.  

Improving your incident management process will also improve all of the other processes at your company. When something goes wrong while completing a task, the process may be put on hold until the incident is resolved. By decreasing response and resolution times, your employees can get back to work as soon as possible. 

4. Operation Process

Operations involve day-to-day tasks like accepting guests, managing office spaces, or your content approval process. These tasks will make up parts of your employees’ daily routines. Many of these tasks may require physical actions combined with digital logging and documentation When possible, automating organizational processes is optimal. Due to the repetitive nature of these processes, automating them will save a lot of time in the long run.  Establishing standardized processes can make these organizational tasks run smoothly while boosting the satisfaction of your customers and employees. 

5. Customer Inquiry Process

The customer inquiry process relates to any support requests that may come to your organization. It dictates the steps that are taken once a customer query is placed. It includes what departments will be involved with the inquiry based on its nature, as well as the chain of command in charge of the issue. An efficient customer inquiry process helps improve service by delivering quick fixes. Quick fixes may require a long-term solution to be put in place later, but they buy your company time to work things out.

A satisfied customer will bring in 17 times more revenue than an unsatisfied one (van-haaften.nl). Dissatisfied customers are also more likely to share their negative experiences than satisfied customers are to share their positive ones. With 93% of customers reading online reviews (dixa.com), keeping a positive brand image is as important as ever. This means getting issues resolved fast will boost customer reviews, recommendations, and sales.

Business Process Improvement Using Jetdocs

Internal processes can be streamlined by using an internal workflow system like Jetdocs. Jetdocs is a state-of-the-art application that can make internal processes easier and more efficient. Jetdocs is a Microsoft Teams and Slack application that integrates right into your existing communications tools. Employees can access everything they need without leaving Teams or Slack. This means no new accounts or logins, just use your organization’s existing SSO authentication scheme.

slack-ticketing

The app comes with a lot of no-code pre-made templates that will have you up and running in minutes. Jetdocs has workflows for the entire organization to make cross-functional collaboration a breeze. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, the custom workflow maker is your tool to create a bespoke solution that checks every box. Jetdocs can help your company start improving its processes today.