3 steps to improving your processes

1st April, 2016

When a business starts, business owners set processes to make sure things are done efficiently and consistently. Decisions are made to answer the phone with a “Thank you for calling ABC PTY LTD, how can I help you” or to re-order stock when it reaches certain levels.

As businesses grow, however, managing daily processes becomes more complex.

Are some processes holding your business back?

Is it time to shake up and redefine your business processes?

It can be challenging to identify which processes are holding you back and how to improve them. When you spend all of your time completing the tasks and working in the business it can become difficult to take a step back and take an objective view of your current processes.

Here are some steps to consider:

1. Identify the most critical processes

You need to know what to improve before you can set about improving it. Name all the processes in your business and then rate them in terms of importance.

The rating system used will vary by business and industry, but there are some key questions that would be relevant to anyone:

  • Would improving this process increase revenue or decrease costs?
  • Does the process have an impact on your customers?
  • Would it improve staff moral and potentially reduce turnover?
  • If I don’t improve this process, what happens?

Adapt these initial questions should be adapted to suit your own individual needs, however they offer a good starting point on how to rate the processes you review.

2. Map out the processes you want to improve

A great way to map out critical business processes you want to improve is to articulate all the steps in that process and who is responsible for it.

For simpler processes, you could try using a flowchart.

To map out a more complex process that involves several people or groups within the business, you might a Swim Lane Diagram, which allows you to map out numerous steps and touchpoints in a process.

Once mapped out, these diagrams will show you the steps in the process visually and allow for open discussion with the staff members involved in the process.

3. Investigate how the process can be improved

Typically, improvements can be made in three ways:

Look for steps within the Flowchart or Swim Lane Diagram that can be removed from the process without impacting the outcome.

If you can bypass a process entirely and still get the same result, do you really need that process? If you’re going to bypass a process, a good strategy might be to phase it out over short periods of time to make its removal doesn’t impact other processes you may have missed.

Most automation comes from moving away from disparate systems and software by implementing an integrated business management solution.

Read this next: What is business process automation?

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