How organisations can apply business process improvement to achieve more strategic business outcomes
Organisations across all types of industries were forced to change their working practices and adopt new technologies in the past 18 months to adapt to government restrictions and support remote workforces in response to the pandemic.
Now companies are facing the ongoing challenge of optimising new processes and technologies to achieve more strategic business outcomes and ensure business continuity into the future.
It's essential that business leaders assess their business processes to identify areas for improvement. Organisations can optimise performance and efficiencies through business process improvement practices such as identifying, analysing and improving internal processes.This includes identifying opportunities to automate to reduce time and resources spent on manual tasks or upgrading existing technologies and tools to gain efficiencies.
Here are five steps that organisations can use as a guide:
1. Map and analyse business processes: mapping business processes is an essential step in the process improvement journey. This helps organisations develop a visual representation of their workplace processes as well as see how tasks are done and who is involved. This provides a clearer picture of which processes can be improved and who might be responsible for them.
Dedicate time to reviewing and analysing process maps to identify potential bottlenecks and process issues, tracing issues back to possible sources and identifying potential improvements.
2. Redesign workflow processes: redesigning workflows is one of the most critical parts of improving business processes. After identifying any bottlenecks and process issues in the workflow, organisations should redesign workflows to streamline these processes. It's essential to involve key stakeholders in this process as they work closely with workflows and will be integral to managing changes made in the process.
3. Develop an implementation plan and assign resources: part of this process is assigning roles and delegating resources to help enact solutions identified through the assessment process.
Create a detailed plan that identifies stakeholders and resources needed to support the implementation, along with tasks each stakeholder will be responsible for managing. In addition, develop a comprehensive timeline of activities with deadlines to ensure the implementation process stays on schedule.
4. Communicate the implementation plan: stakeholders will also need to be made aware of resources that will be made accessible and how these changes will affect their roles and daily tasks.
It's essential to provide clear explanations of the new workflows and how these will change and benefit the organisation to help reduce any anxieties or resistance to workflow changes. Communicate clearly with staff over business process changes, including any relevant training or resources that employees need to adapt to the new workflows and processes.
5. Execute the implementation plan: once the plan has been communicated, it will need to be set in motion. Maintaining continuous communication with employees and stakeholders throughout the process will help things move smoothly, especially as improving business processes may involve incorporating new teams or systems.
Business process improvement should be an ongoing practice for companies looking to future-proof their business, rather than a set-and-forget strategy. Organisations should continuously monitor their business processes to identify and optimise any issues that arise after rolling out a new process or workflow.
Employees and key stakeholders are critical sources of feedback that can be leveraged to ensure everything continues to run smoothly. Investing in business process management software and partnering with specialists can also help simplify the road ahead.