Delays in routine processes are one of the biggest productivity drains within any business. Common issues include clunky, outdated paper-based procedures, needless duplication, and bottlenecks which occur because only one or two staff members have the ability to perform a specific task. Overly long and complex processes tie up staff time that could be better deployed elsewhere and breed frustration among your customers and suppliers. Fortunately, there are proven strategies to reduce process delays that are applicable to all businesses.
1. Process mapping
You need to have a thorough, detailed understanding of how your processes work before you can make changes. Process mapping includes documenting every step of a process, including which employees are involved, the software and other tools used, and who is responsible for handover to the next stage. Resist the temptation to start developing solutions before you have completed process mapping. Once your map is done, it will be easier to not only identify where the problems are but also to prioritise improvements.
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2. Consult with your staff
Talk to all of the people responsible for ensuring the process works, not just senior employees. Ask them if your process map is accurate – would they add anything? What do they see as the main causes of bottlenecks? Are there any steps which are repetitive or redundant? How does the process impact on their daily work? These consultations will help you to gain an appreciation of the bigger picture and make you aware of less obvious issues.
3. Process Analysis
You now have the information and insights you need for deeper analysis. You can identify which tasks are causing the worst delays, where the biggest bottlenecks are, and where there may be opportunities to save time or resources.
You can also determine whether some stages of the process can be eliminated or automated to improve business efficiencies and free up staff time for more rewarding or important tasks.
Once you have completed the preparation discussed above, it’s time to list your planned changes, prioritise them, and implement them. Keep in mind that a small tweak can sometimes make a bigger impact than sweeping change; it’s important to focus on outcomes rather than tasks. Ensure you communicate the plan to all affected staff members through written documentation and training; every employee who has a part to play should gain an understanding of the broader benefits as well as how their individual role will be impacted.
Effective business process management relies on continuous evaluation and improvement. Develop quantifiable and measurable KPIs to assess how your changes impact on outcomes, the process itself, and the people responsible for the process. Are your processes more efficient? Has there been savings in time or money? Is there less task duplication?
At Demeter, we have developed an AI-friendly SaaS process management platform which powers productivity through process. We help businesses to optimise process flows through integrated, intuitive technology, enhancing visibility, and creating a common language for improvement across departments and teams.
We make process flow, so your business grows.
To take the first step towards improving business processes at your organisation, get in touch.