May 09, 2021
Michael D. Wilson
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Process improvement can be an overwhelming exercise for organizations. Avoid these six common process improvement mistakes to ensure a smooth strategy implementation.
Process improvement is a continuous exercise that helps businesses improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and performance of a business process. The ultimate goal of process improvement is to improve business operations and contribute to positive business and personal outcomes, leading to better operations and better lives.
Process improvement involves various activities such as process discovery, process mapping, process documentation, process re-engineering, and process automation.
Implementing a process improvement strategy requires dedicated time, resources, and team efforts. While there are many ways to seamlessly undertake process improvement, businesses often make common mistakes during the process.
These mistakes impede the process improvement plan from implementing correctly, causing unnecessary delay and a waste of resources.
The Processology team regularly works with businesses to help them improve their processes. Based on our experience and observations, we have curated a list of common mistakes that companies make while improving their operations.
Use this list of six common mistakes to avoid when improving your business processes.
We cannot stress enough the importance of asking the right questions while trying to improve your processes. The right questions help you get minute details of your existing process workflow. These details play an essential role while redesigning your process workflows.
Asking the right questions to the process team helps you gain insights from an execution perspective. Suppose you miss this critical step in the process improvement exercise. In that case, you will probably miss out on understanding what exactly is wrong with your exiting process.
Hence, you must ask the right process questions to the right employees to ensure you have all the information you need about your process. To help you get started, use this list of 50+ process evaluation questions to help you get the right answers.
This is one of the most common mistakes businesses make while trying to improve their processes. Business processes involve complex workflows and tasks that are dependent upon multiple factors. Generally, the upper management and stakeholders are consulted while understanding these complex workflows.
Unfortunately, stakeholders that are not directly participating in the process workflow can give you only a limited amount of information about the process. The right people who know the processes in-and-out are the team members who execute daily.
It is vital to gain the perspective of the members executing the process to understand the workflow, challenges, and opportunities. The more inputs and perspectives you get from your employees, the more you will be able to decode your complex process.
We live in the digital era where technology and innovation have creative digital solutions for every business challenge, including process improvement. There are tools available to simplify your process improvement steps, such as documentation, mapping, analysis, and automation of your business processes.
Although these tools help you accelerate your process improvement strategy, too much dependence on them can end up complicating the process even more.
It is important to focus on the process improvement goals and choose technology that serves these goals. The use of technology should not overpower the need for process improvement.
Resist the temptation of investing in new and appealing process improvement tools. Analyze the need for a tool that can produce visible improvement in your process efficiency and performance.
Process workflows are detailed, complex, and intricate. While assessing existing process workflows, businesses often make the mistake of missing out on details. Even though small, these details can have a major impact on the process and the business outcome.
It is essential to pay attention to detail when you discover and assess your process. Note down the seemingly minor details of every step involved in the process. Interview every team member engaged in the process to make sure you trickle down to every single detail you need.
This mistake is often related to the errors we discussed earlier - not asking the right questions and not involving the right people.
A common mistake businesses often make is assuming that the symptoms are the real problem. They end up fixing the wrong issues. They don't realize that the symptoms should be used to detect the root cause of the process problems and fix them first.
For example, a company has identified that the sales process cycle is slow, affecting the annual sales targets. Assuming that the sales team's efficiency is the problem, the company increases sales incentives to boost sales performance. They later realized that even though the sales team performs well, the sales systems are not functioning efficiently. This is directly affecting the speed of the sales cycle.
In this case, the company made the mistake of assuming that team inefficiency is the problem. Whereas the real problem was with the sales CRM system, which did not provide accurate data to the sales team. This was the root cause of the problem, which should have been identified and fixed in the first place.
To avoid such mistakes, the process improvement team should focus on asking the question - 'why?', to every problem. Why is the sales process slow? Why is the sales team not efficient? Why are the systems not efficient? This 'why' will lead you to the ultimate root cause of the problem.
How can you achieve something when you don't know what it is? One of the most common mistakes businesses make when improving processes is that they fail to clearly define their process goals.
Aligning the goals of your process with the business goals is critical. Every business process should ultimately contribute to the business goal. If this is not the case, then you are wasting time, money, and valuable resources.
Generally, the misalignment of process goals happens when process goal setting and improvement occurs at the ground level. When a team does not consult with business stakeholders to determines goals causing them to be out of sync with the company's goals.
This is why it is essential to weigh in the feedback and suggestions of business stakeholders while setting process goals and process improvement frameworks.
Most of the common mistakes observed in process improvement are interlinked. One mistake is generally the cause of the other. Make sure to bookmark this list of six mistakes to avoid while improving your next business process.
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