Business Process Improvement (BPI) is a systematic approach to improving efficiency of an organization based on streamlining processes. As marketers, we often spend time improving and streamlining the End-User Experience (UX) to increase conversions, create brand advocates, etc. It is not as often that we look at our own internal processes to improve. Improving internal processes is simply a different way to approach the process of improving the User Experience.
The 3 P’s of Successful Business
- People – You must have the right people in the right positions
- Processes – Dictate how your people will perform the functions required to create and improve the product
- Product – Can be a physical product or a service. The product is no more than what your business offers to meet a need.
Businesses that are consistently successful understand the 3 P’s of Successful Business. We are going to take a look at strictly the process piece of the equation.
Why are Processes Developed?
Processes create organization in, an otherwise chaotic, world. Everything we do has a process. Getting ready for work in the mornings, pumping gas, going to bed, etc. all have a process whether you realize it or not. Without processes, nothing happens. Even being awake is a process. Your body must breathe to put oxygen into your blood and your veins and arteries must carry that oxygen throughout your body and deliver it where it is needed.
When it comes to business, processes also create a cohesive structure so that everyone is on the same page about how things get done. If everyone in your organization followed a completely different process to on-board a new client, there would be chaos! Processes also address challenges learned from experience up front and minimize negative results.
Why Should We Improve Our Processes?
Processes change all the time. If you think about what you do to get ready for bed now and compare it to what you did to get ready for bed at 10 years old, some pieces are similar, but overall, it is 2 completely different processes. That is because other processes around it have changed, and your environment has changed. Your priorities and responsibilities have also changed. This happens for our customers as well as our business world at a very fast pace.
How would you feel if you went to purchase a couch and they used the same process that they did back in 1965? What if they sold to you based on the culture in 1965? What if they then said, “I am sorry, we don’t take debit cards; we can only take cash or check?” What if you needed some information on your account and they had to spend 20 minutes finding and pulling out a paper file to give you information?
The same concept goes for internal business processes. Improving processes improves efficiency, improves professional image, reduces stress, increases employee retention, and more!
How Do We Improve Our Processes?
The most effective way to improve your processes is to perform a SWOT Analysis. After the SWOT Analysis, you must ask powerful questions about your processes and if they support your findings from the SWOT Analysis.
What Questions Should We Pose?
The questions you ask can make the difference between successful Business Process Improvement and an unsuccessful waste of time and resources. The first thing to do is segment your processes. Trying to look at every process at one time is just too big of a bite. You need to look at specific pieces of specific processes.
- Why are we performing this process? What is the history behind it?
- Why is this part of the process necessary?
- Who uses this process the most? What suggestions do they have for us to improve?
- Are our people performing this process the way they are supposed to? If not, why?
- Is there a faster, easier way to accomplish the same goal without opening the door for problems?
- Why does this process take the amount of time that it takes?
- Why are people from (applicable department) involved in this process?
- What resources do we already have in place to improve this process?
- What resources do we need to develop to improve this process?
This list could go on and on. The point behind it is that often times we accept how things are just because they have always been that way and it seems to work. If you take that approach, you are short-changing your organization. Don’t mix the message. I am not saying to constantly tear apart every process at your organization and spend every waking hour of the day questioning everything. This is counterproductive. At the same time, if you do not take a look at your processes frequently, you could be truly missing out on the potential of your organization.