What is process improvement?
Constant innovation and growth are the new normal for any company that wants to meet customer needs in today’s fast-paced world. Organizations have to quickly adjust their strategies and processes as well as develop new ones. This is why continuous process improvement, becomes an integral part of business operations.
Process improvement is the practice of optimizing existing business processes in order to meet best market standards and improve customer experience.
Process improvement consists of identifying, analyzing, and improving workflows, and is usually referred to as business process management and business process improvement.
The main goals of process improvement are minimizing errors, reducing waste, improving productivity and streamlining the efficiency of internal and external processes of a company.
Process improvement techniques
Six Sigma stands for pulling workers up through ranks by the principle of karate belts. A person starts as a green belt and goes to the black belt.
Six Sigma involves two ways and several steps to get there: define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) and define, measure, analyze, design, and verify (DMADV).
Cause and Effect analysis
Value stream mapping
Total Quality Management
Types of process improvement
Through process improvement techniques companies aim to improve their internal workflows, which includes improving product and service quality, reducing billing cycles, improving delivery times,and making production more efficient.
Some of the most common process improvement types include:
Process improvement or business process reengineering
Process improvement may sometimes be confused with business process reengineering (BRP). BPR is a practice which should be applied to processes that require major, drastic changes. For example, a complete process redesign. Business process improvement, in turn, is useful for the workflows that require modifications, but without changing their essence.
BPR is usually executed on very broken processes with the expected results of up to 90% better budget optimization, quality, speed and so on. Process improvement focuses on processes that need to be enhanced, with improvements expected within a 10-30% range. However, sometimes BPR and BPI can go hand in hand to achieve common goals within a company.
Advantages on optimizing processes and workflows include the following:
- Improved efficiency
- Improved process visibility/performance
- Cost management
- Quality management
- Reduced cycle times
- Regulatory compliance
- Effective resource management
Key capabilities and benefits are:
- Converting sequential steps to parallel steps so to cut down processing time
- Adding approval steps to ensure quality of a process
- Automating workflows to cut time and resources on running them manually
- Integrating with other software to use its capabilities for enhanced process improvement
- Adding steps to accommodate for new staff and team structure
What are the results of process improvement for your business?
Implementing process improvement techniques is not a quick and simple practice. Moreover, it’s a continuous process that requires decisive action. It is similar to cutting off all the unnecessary branches of a tree in order to give it a better shape and growth.
Process improvement should be conducted on a regular basis as a part of a business strategy. BPM software significantly accelerates the discovery of what should be changed and the implementation of necessary changes. Other benefits that software provides includes visualization, workflow automation, and no-code/low-code tools so non tech-savvy employees are able implement required changes as soon as possible and on a regular basis.
How to start?
When a process audit indicates that processes require improvement, it is important to provide guidance, so that changes are in line with the operations. Some of the basic rules for restructuring workflows are:
- Analyzing the current processes in an organization, their condition, and roles.
- Figuring out how broken workflows can be changed to better align with the company’s goals.
- Identifying how the improved processes can add value to the operations.
- Being ready to reorganize resources within the company after optimization.
In order to figure out what the initial steps should be, a business owner has to answer the following questions: