Is your business suffering from longer than expected lead times, and a lot of that lead time is prior to the actual service or manufacturing of your product? Is there a focus within your business to continually improve this ‘up front’ aspect of your service or operation?
Business Process Improvement is the organizational ability to continually improve and innovate in streamlining all of the steps and resources used to make and deliver products and services your customers want.
In many businesses, you’ll find that more time and money goes into the business processes spanning order to cash than making products or delivering services. Yet, little attention is paid to making these processes world class. For all companies, the value adding processes are linked together by the organizing and accelerating activities we call “business processes.” These span the enterprise from creating and enabling the organization vision to recognizing and reporting revenue – The entire order to cash cycle.
Examples of the types of processes that are critically important, and typically overlooked as a focus for improvement, include the following:
- Visioning and planning (strategic, product development roadmap, resource planning)
- Managing change and executive governance (implementation, cross functional cooperation, coordination, integration, new product introduction)
- Market research
- Order entry
- Conversion of order entry to service or defined product
- Supply chain management
- Customer service
- Accounting / monitoring / reporting
- Managing information
- Human resource management (hiring / developing / training / rewarding)
Process Characteristics Demanding Attention
How successful these processes are depends on how effective, efficient, and agile they are. The danger is that even a poorly designed process can be “efficient,” and can be automated to execute quickly but with undesirable results. And processes that produce a great outcome can sometimes be painstakingly slow and consume too many resources. You want your processes to be optimized and balanced. When your business processes are winning, they are:
- Predictable – Producing what you expect them to
- Controlled – Consistently delivering high quality and consistent yields
- Scalable – Responding to changes in capacity on demand
- Improving – Operating and informing so they can be continuously improved and applied to new requirements
Business Process Improvement
Getting the most out of business processes begins with capturing the current and outlining the ideal states. The gap between these presents the opportunity. Improvement activities include:
- Documenting and standardizing
- Debottlenecking, streamlining and simplifying
- Integrating and enabling
Effective capture, for many companies, is a giant leap forward. The only hope for creating standard work and achieving the consistent performance that stems from it is to document in detail what is currently being done. This can be done with a practical mix of value stream maps, swim lane diagrams, process flow maps, and performance data. Examples of these include:
A vision of the ideal process state is best created by a group of knowledgeable, creative, forward thinking individuals. Structured visioning generates an aspirational view of a desired future business process.
With an accurate current state and a compelling vision of the future, the gap is detailed in words, pictures, and numbers – data that tells the story of where the opportunities lay. From there, building a detailed and achievable roadmap for business process improvement and optimization is straightforward. The team outlines the steps, resources, timing, change management challenges and responses and quickly transitions to implementation.
This business process improvement cycle can be executed through a kaizen, outlined here:
Do You Need Help With Business Process Improvement?
Why not get in touch and see how Flow Consulting can help you with Business Process Improvement improvements.