Increasingly challenging market circumstances are forcing more and more businesses to either adapt or become extinct. Business Process Improvement (BPI) can help businesses to optimise the way they work to help ensure their business sustainability in future.
Here are a few tips to help businesses of any size ensure their success when embarking on a BPI initiative.
- Ensure that your business processes are documented. Do not over complicate this step, but ensure that it is done completely and accurately. This will provide a starting point for identifying opportunities for improvement
- Involve your employees when documenting business processes and when looking for improvements. Nobody understands the challenges in a process better than those people performing that function
- Make sure that your business process documents are kept up to date, properly backed up and that a copy is kept in a safe place for risk and business continuity purposes
- All processes in some way or another requires input from a person, whether to execute the process or to monitor the equipment that does – choose the right people and train them properly
- Make sure that the documented processes are followed! If you find that an individual is not adhering to the documented process, understand why. They may have found an even better way to do things, or it may identify an improvement opportunity in your training or induction programmes
- Continuously improve! Regularly question current practices
- Always remember that some processes could be inter-related and that changes in one process could affect another process
- Do what is most appropriate in your business – do not become fixated on what everyone else is doing. Discard conventional, fixed ideas about doing work
- Get assistance from business process experts to improve your business processes – the benefit will far exceed the investment if done correctly.
Finding ways to improve your business processes
When looking for opportunities to improve, keep in mind:
- No improvement is too small. Do not seek perfection – begin to make improvements immediately, even if for only 50% of the target. Small changes combined over a period, result in big improvements
- Keep things simple
- Correct mistakes immediately and learn from it. Always look for ways to prevent mistakes from happening in the first instance, as prevention is always better than cure
- Avoid duplications as far as is possible
- Utilise waiting time
- Make sure that you have some kind of “acceptable band of performance” and a control mechanism that will highlight exceptions, as well as a pre-defined escalation channel when performance moves outside the acceptable band
- Always have a back-up plan.
- Cater for disabilities (you run the risk of colour coded files being incorrectly used by someone who is colour blind).
The benefits gained from doing something (including BPI), must always exceed the investment (time and money) of doing so. Remember, improvement is a journey, not a destination, so approach it with enthusiasm and have fun!