You’re running business processes on a daily basis, and so, it’s easy to fall into the mentality of “It’s how we’ve always done it.” By implementing ideas for process improvement, you can dramatically increase your business’ efficiency, save costs, and reduce mistakes.
Knowing process improvement methodologies is a great place to start because it provides you with a way to execute upon a process improvement plan. In this article, we will look at process improvement ideas for work and see how automation solutions can help put them in action.
1. What is Process Improvement?
2. What are the Benefits of Process Improvement?
3. What are Ideas for Process Improvement?
4. What are Process Improvement Examples?
5. What are Process Improvement Techniques?
Process improvement is the act of identifying, analysing, and enhancing existing business processes. The goal is to optimise performance and improve upon standards that will result in better quality and user experiences for end users/customers.
Business process improvement makes it possible to:
By reducing waste, streamlining steps, and minimising errors, everyone that interacts within and outside of the business gets to benefit.
Speaking of benefits, let’s outline what you stand to gain by putting in practice the upcoming ideas for process improvement:
Business process improvement tends to entail the deployment of automation software to streamline processes. As a result, companies get to benefit from greater productivity.
In fact, research showed that workers spend an average of 520 hours annually taking care of repetitive tasks that could instead be automated.
The goal of any business is to satisfy and add value to its customers’ lives. With process improvement, customers get to gain from better customer service, as well as improved product quality. As a result, customer satisfaction increases.
Along with happy customers comes happier employees as they no longer have to waste time on manual, repetitive, and monotonous tasks. Instead, they can allocate their efforts towards creative, strategic, and greater value add responsibilities.
Process improvement with automation can lead to greater internal control, visibility, and transparency. This means that companies are able to reduce their risks associated with security, safety, compliance and more.
Now you may be wondering, how can you get started with process improvement to reap the aforementioned benefits and more?
We’re going to share a few ideas for process improvement. With these ideas in mind, consider your own business’ functions to see what project improvement ideas are most fitting and relevant.
Along with this list, keep in mind that process improvement is especially useful for finance functions, such as reconciliations, regulatory reporting, revenue management, expense analytics, and more.
At the heart of every process your business runs sits the people that do the work. Oftentimes, procrastination will cause business processes to be thwarted or result in added waste.
With the rise of remote workers and the distaste for micromanagement, time tracking and analysis software can be of service.
Such software is able to provide screenshots as proof of work, automatically generated timesheets, and time reports that help managers and stakeholders understand where employees’ time is being spent.
While time tracking can offer immediate benefits and improvement opportunities, it’s also useful to monitor team performance. To quantify performance, you can use project status tracking to figure out where bottlenecks may exist.
To overcome bottlenecks, automation solutions can be used to streamline processes and offer each responsible party with greater visibility into what’s needed of them at any given time.
Most business processes are repetitive by nature. As such, it’s effective to designate a project management process so that every key stage is clearly broken down into its phases.
This also helps to ensure that every individual who is involved in a part of the process is aware of what they have to do. Automation software is useful for this too because you get to visualise processes, map them out, and assign roles and responsibilities by doing so.
As with any good relationship, including business relationships, communication is the primary foundation. With poor communication between departments and colleagues, processes can get stuck and important details may fall through the cracks.
By improving communication and collaboration (as with automation software and tools), you can work smoother and better.
A primary method to improve processes is to identify and eliminate waste that stem from inefficient processes.
To begin identifying waste, you should look out for: excess processing, reporting, overproduction, unused inventory, defects, stuck products, unnecessary moving of product, ineffective motion of people, and underutilised or non-utilised talent.
Like eliminating waste, it’s also possible to improve processes by reducing costs. Cost reduction can be found by removing unnecessary or duplicate tasks, automating manual tasks, and reviewing the flow of processes to ensure that the order of tasks are designed as best as can be.
Another idea to improve processes is to start by visualising processes to gain a deep understanding of processes.
Process visualisation makes it possible to see the various steps, the people involved, and the time it takes to run through each step. By visualising the process, you can identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, or issues.
Like cutting costs, you can also aim your process improvement efforts to generate increased revenue.
To do so, you can explore ideas like: creating new services or products, expanding your markets, marketing to existing customers creatively, expanding partnerships, and improving relationships within the business.
Another go-to method for process improvement is to focus on bettering the quality of services and goods. Automating processes is a great way to reduce mistakes and thereby increase the output’s quality. Another method to identify inefficiencies is to practise the “5 Whys” to find the root cause of any quality defects.
A focus on efficiency means that you’ll look to eliminate redundant work, reduce meetings to those that are necessary, ensure supplies are provided as required, and streamline approval processes.
As you execute upon your ideas for process improvement, remember that continual process improvement is the name of the game. As such, you can constantly review and optimise processes.
With automation software, this becomes easier to do because you’ll be able to access up-to-date insights and recognise where process improvement possibilities lie.
Ideas for process improvement can be best understood by reviewing some examples. Here’s a look at what’s possible:
Mistakes are commonly occurring due to data inaccuracy and manual data entry errors. Correcting these mistakes can save time, money, and damage in the short and long-term. Automation software can collect, connect, and standardise data needs in less time with greater accuracy.
Time is wasted having to re-enter data, create reports, budget, and scan paper documentation. This leads to bottlenecks and delays.
System downtime and managerial approval is another way that processes get stuck in limbo. With automation software, processes flow smoothly plus the data can be stored securely in the cloud so available remotely if needed. If they hit any snags, the necessary people are notified to keep the process moving along.
A key issue in many businesses is overproduction. Whether it be in terms of products or paperwork, overproduction leads to waste and extra unnecessary costs.
There’s a long list of process improvement methodologies to try when you’re seeking to make your business run more efficiently.
To get a general overview, here’s a quick summary of popular process improvement techniques:
PDSA stands for: Plan, Do, Study, and Act. It entails defining the problem and ideating solutions, implementing the chosen solution, analysing its effectiveness, and then adding the change as part of the standard procedure for work.
5S is a process improvement technique for better safety and efficiency. It covers a series of steps including: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise, Sustain.
To find the root cause of an inefficiency, ask “Why” five times in a row to get to the bottom of it.
Once you have these ideas for process improvement in mind, it’s time to get to making your business run better. Process improvement is intended to be a recurring activity. With that said, once you implement an improvement, be sure to monitor the outcome to make sure that your desired results are the reality.
Automation software can be your holy grail to achieve process improvement on multiple levels. From helping you visualise existing processes to managing manual and error-prone tasks and analysing outcomes, automation bridges the gap between existing processing and your to-be processes.
Looking for ideas for process improvement? Read these process improvement examples and best-in-class tips to make your business run better.
There are many continuous improvement methods to choose from. Check out this summary of your options, and how automation solutions can help.