“My company is doing lots of good things, but some things I know we can and should do better. We need process optimization.”
Does that sound familiar? If so it’s time to investigate how to optimize processes right. Typically there are multiple process optimization opportunities in a company. Some are ERP dependent but many are independent of your technology. So what do you look for and where do you start? Here are a few tips:
- Identify what business processes are truly yours.
What processes need to remain to keep your business unique? In other words, what’s “Your Secret Sauce”? This is crucial so you don’t change the elements that work for you.
- Ensure that your leadership is supportive and actively engaged.
- Process Optimization may take work in many directions, and it is important that senior leadership be fully supportive and actively engaged in the effort. This will send a signal to the entire organization that this initiative is important and their best and most transparent efforts should be given.
- Identify the processes that need improvement.
Easier said than done, I know.
- Discipline at this first step will improve the chances of success at the end. Don’t try to “eat the whole elephant” at once. There are a number of simple, easy-to-use tools that can help.
- Start in one department or one area of a department when you know there are inefficiencies.
- Get to the root cause of the problem; don’t settle for the easy answer.
- This ensures the corrective action you take will address the problem you are targeting and create the business improvement you expect. Again, there are some simple, effective tools that can help.
- Standardize your processes.
- Use best business practices as a guide. Processes should be disciplined and repeatable.
- Challenge your people and provide support and recognition when they respond.
- Challenge your organization and culture where necessary. Process optimization requires open and continuous dialogue and many times, action across multiple areas of an organization. If your team isn’t familiar working this way, change management will be invaluable.
- Learn from every process improvement you make and apply that learning to the next improvement.
- Learn from every improvement and apply that learning to the next opportunity. The PDCA cycle (Plan, Do, Check, and Act) is one of several effective methodologies you can use to enhance this discovery based learning approach.
- Embrace continuous improvement, not the one-time “silver bullet” approach.
And finally, I have saved one of the best for last:
- Ensure that all process optimization efforts are aligned with company goals and targets.
People are more effectively motivated when they can see the results of their efforts directly impacting their organization.
This may be a long laundry list when you’re trying to get a process optimization effort started. But, by taking this list one step at a time, your company can begin moving in the right direction. Stay connected for more information about Process Optimization: connect with us on LinkedIn, or follow us on Twitter.