You have a clear documented process, but it’s not running smoothly. There is always something that gets stuck somewhere taking a toll on process efficiency. What is possibly setting things off-track?
Business processes are designed to streamline the way that you and your team work. A process is more than just documentation. If you don’t have a well-designed process and a strategy to constantly monitor and optimise it, you can never steer your business to success.
What is process efficiency?
Process efficiency is a measure of how smooth a process is executed, factoring-in the time and the resources spent. It either has a direct or indirect impact on profitability. Processes are often the repeatable aspects of a business that can be heavily optimised to improve efficiency.
Why is it important to have efficient processes?
1. Increased productivity
Your teams are faster at getting to the finish line because everything operates smoothly.
2. Minimised errors
There are virtually no errors due to mistakes by individuals or due to the system you have in place. Even if problems occur, they are fixed quickly without chaos.
3. Reduced operational costs
Your company incurs less expenses due to minimised errors and quick recovery time.
4.Increased flexibility to changes
Employees have a powerful grasp of how processes are run, making teams flexible to any adjustments in the business climate.
5 steps to increase process efficiency
Here is a step-by-step work plan to increase the efficiency of any process.
1. Understand your existing process
When you implemented a process for the first time, people might have followed it perfectly. But if the steps in the process are dysfunctional, it may be due to faults in the system or the people responsible. Gather data on where these discrepancies occur and how the process deviated from the documentation. You need to collect data on where the differences occur and how the process deviated from the original documentation.
Here are some plausible circumstances that could have led to inconsistency:
The employee does not have the skill needed to complete a specific task to a high degree.
Employees keep contemplating the task at hand and ask for more information or ask for the same set of instructions/data at every occasion.
“I’ve done this numerous times, it’s okay to not notify that person this once”, “I’ll fix it later on”, “The system is down so I’ll note it down for now”. These are common shadow processes that invite errors.
Some steps in the process consume time and add no value to the overall task.
Lack of awareness
No awareness amongst employees of the scope of the process and the goal you are trying to achieve with it.
No common terminology
Lack of a standard business terminology for the process often leads to confusion.
Lastly, make sure to question individuals and find out the reasons that prompted them to go out of line. Write down all data and go to the next step.
2. Set business goals and KPIs
What are the goals you’re looking at right now? To increase your revenue by 50% by next year? Increase your CSAT (customer satisfaction) score to 85% in the coming quarter? Increase the number of manufactured products by 25%? Be clear on these goals. Once your business goals are in place, derive KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that serve as checkpoints to achieve your goals.
For example, if you want to increase your customer satisfaction score to 85% in the next quarter, you have to provide a better customer experience. If you want to increase the number of deals closed, you have to be faster in reaching out and following up.
Generally, processes should always align with your current business goals and cascade down to individual steps through KPIs.
3. Build and redesign your ideal process
Now that you have insights from your existing process and the goals and KPIs of your business, link these two by designing a new process that will increase process efficiency.
In the process redesign, your first step is to identify a stakeholder for each KPI. These individuals are responsible for monitoring and optimising for the metric that measures their respective KPIs.
After you assign stakeholders, start redesigning the workflow. Take the existing steps and start fixing them one by one. Does it begin with the right person? What information does the next person need from the first to take necessary action? List them out and include them.
After you design the workflow, consider circumstances when the steps in your process need to break the designed workflow. You have many of these in your old process. Why did it occur? Did the person forget about it? Does it need more information from the previous step? Did an unexpected situation arise that needed a unique resolution? Document all these exceptions in your process redesign and decide what happens in those situations.
4. Implement the improved process
Now that you have a solid process ready to go, it’s time to implement it. But it’s not as simple as handing out the new process manuals to everyone.
It’s one thing to get process cycle efficiency with a team of four. I’ts quite another to have a streamlined process with a team of four thousand. In other words, your process efficiency will only improve when you and your colleagues take action, once you have built out a more efficient process, you need to document and share your process for others to follow.
To implement the process successfully, the first stage is to communicate changes to your stakeholders of the process. You have to explain why you redesigned the process in the first place, and how the new process is going to help everyone achieve their goals faster.
The second stage is to implement the process in multiple stages. People need time to understand, adjust, and adapt. If they need to acquire a new skill set, make sure you help them learn. By the end of the last stage of implementation, your new process is operating fully.
5. Measure, monitor and optimise the new process
Your job doesn’t stop at implementation. Efficient processes require constant monitoring and optimisation to observe an increase.
Keep an eye on all your KPIs throughout the duration of a live process. This doesn’t mean you should run behind every task all the time. You can generate reports at constant intervals to analyse them in small pieces. Collect feedback from the stakeholders and see where they face challenges. Straighten and iron them out.
After the completion of an adequate number of tasks, analyse the reports and see where improvements can be made. There’s a simpler way to monitor processes. Continue to the next section to see how.
The forefront of process efficiency
According to a study, SMEs are spending over 120 hours per year on admin tasks because their employer is still reliant on manual administration processes. This lack of investment in technology leads to a lack of trust in data amongst employees which results in business decisions taking longer.
With the right process optimisation tool like Blocworx Process Builder, you can design, implement, and manage a business process with ease. Blocworx allows you to easily monitor multiple processes, track and optimise your performance. You can get consistent feedback with live reports saving your business time, costs and valuable resources. Try Blocworx and see your process efficiency go through the roof.
Isobel Hogan, Marketing Executive at Blocworx