The Importance Of Process Improvement
Business processes are designed to help employees reach their goals in an effective manner. Team members from various departments are each assigned a thought-out action plan—whether it’s sales, HR, marketing, production, or even management. But the truth is, effective doesn’t always mean efficient.
Enter process improvement.
Organizations and their teams use process improvement techniques to assess their current processes and make necessary changes. The goal of using process improvement techniques is to improve workflows, and increase profitability and productivity.
Process improvement should be a part of any business practice, because we live in a world of constant change. Customers’ preferences change, the way of doing business changes, and technologies change. It’s vital to adapt and create new processes to complement your organization. Without adapting to change, your company could lag behind the competition, negatively impacting your sales, brand, and reputation.
Here are some business process improvement examples:
- Production efficiency
- Better product quality
- Shorter queues for assistance
- Eliminating customer experience hassles
- Quicker delivery of goods and services
- Cost reduction and financial savings
Process Improvement Tactics:
Brainstorming sessions can improve communication and collaboration within an organization. In fact, one of the most underrated process improvement ideas is simply gathering company-wide or in small groups to collect feedback, ideas, and suggestions. Information—no matter how seemingly unimportant—can work wonders for process improvement when used wisely. Brainstorming sessions are inexpensive and don’t require too much time from your team members’ busy schedules. Here are a few tips to maximize brainstorming sessions:
- Establish a positive and inclusive environment
- Use colorful and eye-catching presentations
- Set prejudices and personal biases aside
- Determine and eliminate bottlenecks
- Encourage and implement out of the box ideas
- Stay on topic to generate as many ideas as possible
- Review and analyze past sessions
Benchmarking and Setting Key Performance Indicators
Key performance indicators and benchmarking enable companies to track their performance and their team’s improvements and productivity. Take for example, the customer service industry. Achieving excellence in customer service is tough. Customer service agents deal with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of different customers—all of whom have varying ideas on what is excellent customer service.
Studying KPIs gives companies and their agents insight into global standards for average hold time, average handling time, average waiting time, and average time to resolution among many other indicators. To understand more about customer service KPIs, download this free Customer Service KPI eBook. While KPIs reveal team performance, benchmarking specifies how your organization stacks up to competitors. Benchmarking demonstrates opportunities to improve performance gaps and establish a consistent set of metrics and processes. It will also help you lay out your performance expectations, inspire a culture of continuous improvement, and monitor your organization’s ability to adapt to change. Benchmarking and setting key performance indicators are process improvement ideas that can significantly improve your team’s performance and customer satisfaction.
Training plays a vital role in team members’ continuous improvement. This business process improvement methodology gives workers the support they need to achieve their goals. Your training department should evolve alongside your organization. To achieve that standard, include your training department in business meetings, or be sure to provide relevant and up-to-date information needed by team members. While Quality Assurance monitors the performance of teams, the training department ensures teams are properly equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to meet or surpass QA’s requirements. However, training involves much more than simply polishing skills and knowledge. It also includes developing your team members to take on bigger roles within your company. Peak Support’s Emerging Leaders Program or ELP, is a great process improvement project example. Think of ELP as a mini-MBA course. Through our Emerging Leaders Program, Peak Support hones in on team members’ talent and prepares them for more responsibilities as they are promoted into leadership roles.
Get a copy of Peak Support’s Emerging Leaders Program training guide and curriculum today.
As technology evolves, we are faced with new challenges, such as phishing, spam e-mails, malware, data breaches, hacking, and server problems. That’s why IT process improvement is so vital to organizations. Forming a specialized IT and cybersecurity team is a great process improvement project example. The IT and cybersecurity group will update team members on the latest tech issues and disseminate valuable information. Another crucial role of the IT and cybersecurity group is to provide helpful tips and tricks so team members avoid becoming victims of cybercrime. Staying on top of software updates and other tech-related products allows companies and employees to work with peace of mind knowing they are protected. If you have a remote team and are worried about device security, consider investing in company-sponsored laptops equipped with security features and software. These security measures will help keep cyber-attacks at bay, minimize disruption of your business operations, and protect your clients’ information.
Lack of communication is the biggest pitfall when it comes to collaboration and working towards improving business processes. Create an environment that encourages open communication throughout the organization. Leaders should find time to schedule weekly check-ins with their teams to discuss achievements and setbacks. At bigger companies, information from these check-ins should flow up to leaders of the various company departments. So, how do you overcommunicate without sounding like a broken record? The best approach is to establish clear lines of communication. By encouraging open communication; leaders, managers, and supervisors appear more approachable and willing to accept feedback. Although your company is comprised of different teams with different tasks, you are all working towards a common goal. With that in mind, encourage collaboration across all departments of your organization. Make sure you are asking all the right questions, especially about things you’re unsure of, don’t make rash decisions, and always communicate with your team first before setting something in motion. Lastly, touch base with team leads as often as you can. A quick 15- or 30-minute meeting can keep you up to date on information across your entire organization.
These process improvement methodologies can be crucial to your organization:
Developed by American engineer Bill Smith, this processing improvement technique uses statistical data as gauges allowing business leaders to better understand how well their existing processes work. Six Sigma sets a high bar because it focuses on near-perfect quality within a company. The goal of this approach is consistency optimization, which often results in customer satisfaction. The manufacturing industry often uses this process improvement plan example to minimize inconsistencies and defects. Six Sigma relies on two processes: DMAIC, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control, is used for existing processes, and DMADV or Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify, is more applicable for new processes. This article, featuring a yield improvement project in a manufacturing shop, is a great process improvement project example of Six Sigma’s DMAIC.
Six Key Steps for Six Sigma:
- Distinguish the problem through graphs, charts, customer feedback, and journey maps.
- Gather performance data and ensure it is current and accurate.
- Meticulously analyze existing processes and isolate the issues.
- Identify solutions to complement new process improvements.
- Make necessary adjustments to new processes.
- Apply your findings to improve other parts of the business.
Total Quality Management
While Six Sigma may be one of the most well known process improvement ideas, Total Quality Management is a well-established business process improvement methodology. Total Quality Management was designed by an American engineer and professor, W. Edwards Deming. Deming became popular for the processing improvements he brought to the Japanese automotive manufacturing industry. TQM relies on success benchmarks to determine process improvements and aims to improve customer satisfaction and supply chain management. Unlike some other process improvement techniques, TQM involves the whole team, requiring various departments to work together to find and make improvements, while keeping customers top of mind. TQM has been successful in minimizing inefficiencies in teams, workflows, and other business processes. Other benefits include, increase in profits; failure analysis; better market image; cost reduction; customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty; promoting job security; improving employee happiness; and innovating process improvement.
Process improvement is no walk in the park, but it is imperative that companies don’t ignore it or underestimate the role it plays in a successful organization. Process improvement is engrained in Peak Support as one of our core values. Peak Support leaders, managers, and supervisors work closely with team members to achieve optimum results, not just for the company and the hardworking people behind it, but also for our valued clients.
If you would like to learn more about our company, our services, and how we can help take your after-sales or pre-sales support from good or to amazing, then get in touch with us today.