Welcome to the first blog in our series on business process improvement. In the modern world, process drives so much about the way we work. Some processes are manual, some are more technology-based, but all of them are crucial to productivity and efficiency.
So many businesses recognise that productivity is low, or that profits aren’t where they should be. The first place they often look is at their people. Why are things taking so long? Why are there mistakes? There’s also a tendency to find ways to cut costs and increase profit margins.
However, in many cases, this is the wrong approach. Your people can only work with the tools and processes they’re given. So, if things just aren’t working the way they should, it’s highly likely you’ve got broken processes. Here’s some of the tell-tale signs that it’s time to consider business process improvement.
Processes simply take too long
It seems obvious, but if certain processes are taking too long, it’s a good sign you need to shake things up. The first step though, is discovering why they take so long. The common misconception is you’ve got inefficient staff, but often staff do their best within the processes laid out for them.
Too much re-work and manual entry
One of the reasons processes take too long is there’s just too many steps. Too much manual data entry, and too much re-work. For example, staff taking sales data from one source and entering it into spreadsheets for monthly reporting. Frequent mistakes on repetitive, manual tasks can also cause unnecessary re-work.
Too much time spent on checking and reviewing
In an attempt to minimise these human errors, you may have additional checks and reviews in your processes. While it makes sense to strive for accuracy, humans checking for human errors isn’t always the right way to go. It’s not only time consuming but there’s also no guarantee of accuracy.
Attempts at business process improvement aren’t working
Another dead giveaway is you’re spending extra money and resources, but the problems still exist. Rather than looking for genuine business process improvement, you just bring more staff into the equation and expect improvements. Ultimately, you may achieve more accuracy or faster work, but the extra money eats at your bottom line every day.
You often hear “that’s the way we’ve always done it”
Have you ever had people question why you do things a certain way, and your response is “We’ve always done it that way”? If that’s a common phrase in your business, it’s time to think about whether it’s a valid reason to put up with clunky, inefficient processes.
There’s a lack of accountability for mistakes
Finally, when processes stretch across multiple departments, nobody wants to take accountability for errors. Even worse, it can be almost impossible to actually find out who was at fault. This makes it difficult to address performance issues, and is also the ultimate indicator that perhaps nobody is directly to blame. The process itself lets you down right from the start.
If you can identify with any of these signs, stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll address some of the impacts of broken business processes.