What are benefits of streamlining processes? Process improvement initiatives begin with process mapping and streamlining to understand the current state of your processes and areas where efficiency and performance can be improved. For this purpose, the more efficient the process, the more efficient employees will be and the lower the rate of turnover. Frustrated employees will seek work elsewhere!
Every business operates on formalized and documented processes. Many businesses also operate on processes with limited documentation that exist as acquired experience in the heads of certain individuals. These people usually insist “this is how we’ve always done it”. The processes put in place at inception of your business should be periodically checked for efficiency and performance for it to be successful and grow.
Furthermore, without the full commitment of management and engagement of employees, the business will not derive the desired benefits from any process improvement initiative.
“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
What are the Benefits of Streamlining Processes
- Saves time and eliminates unnecessary re-work. For every business, time is money, so making use of your resources by streamlining critical work for day to day activities is essential.
- Ensures that customer needs are met.
- Saves cost through reduced number of re-work activities and employee down time.
- Provides efficient onboarding documentation for new employees.
- Improves cross -functional or departmental communication and collaboration.
- Identify bottlenecks and potential problems so they can be addressed.
- Creates clearly defined work documents (procedures, work instructions, checklists, forms etc)’
- Useful for internal audits ensuring that work is compliant with company policies and standards and government regulations.
- Helpful in continuous improvement efforts.
What is the Difference Between a Workflow and a Process?
It is important that you clearly understand the difference between a workflow and a process. Although many people use them interchangeably, they are different.
Workflow – A business workflow is a repeatable “activity” consisting of a series of tasks that generally need to be completed in a specific sequence. Think of it as work flowing from one stage to the next until it is finished.
Workflows are useful for ensuring that important processes are done the right way every time.
Process – A process is a series of steps and decisions involved in the way work is completed and may include workflows. This is the standard process definition and can be visualized as the regular flowchart also called a process map. Creating this flowchart is sometimes referred to as process modeling.
A process may also be described as inputs, outputs and the expected deliverable (product or service) at the end of its execution.
However, to get to the root cause of some process problems, additional key information may be necessary to identify the process improvement solution.
These include the pattern of processing times and the logistics of human and material resources. In addition, the interdependence of an activity on the completion of another can cause down time for people working if there is a glitch.
The Problem – Align Benefits of Streamlining Processes
Some of your processes involving cross-functional departments may experience duplication and overlap because each department has its own set of “procedures” which they follow. These may or may not embrace all the internal standard requirements you have already set out for the business.
Depending on the nature of a business, there are certain workflows which are standard and specific to the business. If these are not being followed or there are no hand offs between departments, the question to address is WHY?
Duplication creates bottlenecks that can drain valuable man-hours and material resources and seriously affect your bottom line. While a formal management system such as ISO is not required, any business can derive benefits from streamlining processes and increase efficiency with substantial cost savings.
Benefits of Streamlining Processes – Solution to the Problem
A general overview of the steps that can be employed to streamline your processes (not all…..) include the following:
- An impact analysis to determine expectations from the proposed improvement.
- Business process mapping – Understand and create a visual map of the process(es) in detail
- Identify the variability of processing time and flow, timing and interdependence and allocation of resources
- Review the results and critically analyze the process(es). Identify root causes of the current business state – bottlenecks, obsolete steps etc. and and any potential problems.
- Identify steps that may be removed or merged and the impacts.
Implementing the Process Improvement Solution
This part is crucial to the success of the process improvement. Communication and training may be required especially if new processes or workflows are introduced.
At this stage, the full engagement of your employees will be necessary so they can provide feedback on execution of the process. This will assist with generating data for key monitoring metrics. Analysis of these monitoring metrics can be used to make further changes to the process.
Review and Monitor
Because process improvement is a continuous process of improvement, if a new problem appears, it will have to be immediately addressed
Process improvement does not need to be a cumbersome exercise – if you follow a phased approach. Streamlining your processes is always a good way to start as benefits derived can be quite quickly seen.
A discovery of activities that could benefit from automation, are generally tackled in a separate phase. Some businesses are more focused in seeing the immediate and tangible benefits of streamlining their processes, as this allows them to better understand their processes and documentation before moving forward with further improvements,
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