What is Business Process Improvement?

Key takeaways

  • Processes are your business
  • Process improvement methods
  • Identify bottlenecks
  • Redesign processes

3 min read

Business Process Improvement: How to get started

Is process improvement just for manufacturers that want to cut costs? The short answer is no.

Companies across all industries benefit from process improvement. After all, processes are not something your business does; processes are your business.

So, if those processes are broken or not working as efficiently as they should be, they are costing your business time and money.

The challenge is, how do you pinpoint exactly which processes need fixing and how they can be improved?

That’s where Business Process Improvement (BPI) comes in.

In this article, you’ll learn what Business Process Improvement is, how it works and actionable steps to get started.

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What is Business Process Improvement (BPI)?

Business Process Improvement is the practice of identifying, analysing and improving existing processes to optimise performance, meet best practice, improve quality and enhance the customer experience.  

In other words, you look at your business processes to identify how you can do things better. 

What kinds of business processes are we talking about?

When you think about all the processes in your business, they can be broken down into three main categories: 

  1. Operational – Processes relating to the value stream, such as orders, shipping, manufacturing, warehousing, etc.
  2. Management – Processes for budgeting, communication and planning.
  3. Supporting – Processes completed by supporting teams, such as accounting, technology, recruitment, training, etc. 

Process Improvement Methods

Kaizen, Kanban, Six Sigma… you’ve probably already heard of the different business improvement methodologies. Each provides a framework to help your business tackle process improvement.

They all have the same goal: to help your business identify process issues (typically through process mapping), fix them, and then analyse the success of those changes. But they approach this goal in a different way. Some focus on lean process improvement, others on company culture.

For example, Kaizen is all about continuous improvement using lean and agile practices, while Kanban is a workflow management method to help you visualise your work, maximise efficiency and become agile.

How to get started with Business Process Improvement

The first and most important step is process mapping

Process mapping helps you understand how the processes work now, so you can identify any sticking points. In other words, you are mapping the “as-is” process.

Involve different teams to provide information about specific processes. For example, if you’re looking at inventory management processes, you’ll probably need to involve finance, procurement, warehousing and sales teams.

Process maps should be clear and easy to understand by anyone in the business. Don’t get bogged down in the detail – simply map the process to a level of detail that lets you identify opportunities for improvement.

Next, identify the pain points.

Where are the bottlenecks? What is stopping people from working productively? Where is time being wasted?

Let’s say there’s a problem with purchase orders being approved. The sticking point could be that managers working remotely are not approving purchase orders until they are back in the office. But this one bottleneck holds up the entire billing and payment process.

Once you’ve identified the pain points, use process improvement to redesign the process.

Let’s return to the case of the managers not approving purchase orders. One way to improve the process could be implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that allows managers to access, review and approve purchase orders them on the go. This has the potential to shave days and even weeks off the business workflow.

The fact is a business management platform, like MYOB Advanced Business, is one of the most effective ways to improve processes. It can help streamline workflows and operations, as well as make it easier for employees to access the information they need, when they need it.    

Ready to get started?

Talk to one of our MYOB accredited partners. They will help you map your business processes and work out the best way to automate, optimise and manage them using an ERP system.