Analyze the process
Use your flowchart to investigate the problems within the process. Again, make sure to include everyone who follows the process in the discussion, because they will be able to provide firsthand perspectives that can guide your activities related to business process improvement.
As a group, talk through the process. Feel free to use these questions to guide your discussion:
- What is working about this process? What is not working?
- Where does work get stuck? Are there any recurring bottlenecks or blockers in this process?
- What issues are getting team members or customers frustrated?
- What is causing costs to rise or quality to decline?
- What do the issues with this process prevent us from accomplishing?
- What do we need to do in order to make this process work for us?
There are many ways to hold this conversation as a team. A group discussion (in person or virtual, as it may be) is certainly one way to go about it – but you might get more thoughtful responses if you send out some of these questions in advance. Encourage team members to spend some time reflecting on the process and jotting down their thoughts before the meeting, so that you can have a more productive conversation.
Redesign the process
After thoroughly analyzing the process, it’s time to redesign it or make changes to eliminate the problems you’ve identified. Work closely with the people who are directly involved in the process, who might suggest new approaches. Also, they will be more likely to accept changes if they’ve been included in the discussion about business process improvement at an early stage.
Make sure everyone understands what the process is meant to do and then explore how the team can address the problems identified. Depending on how complex the process is, it might make sense to conduct an impact analysis to understand the full effects of the process changes.
The next step is to acquire the resources needed to implement the new process. Make a list of everything needed, including guidance from senior managers or colleagues in departments such as IT, finance, or human resources. Communicate with each of these groups to make sure they understand how the new process will benefit the organization, and what will be required of them in order to make the planned improvements.
Implement and communicate change
Your activities related to business process improvement might involve changing existing systems, teams, or processes. Consider running a pilot first, to check for potential problems before a wider rollout.
Keep in mind that change is not always easy for individuals or teams, and sometimes is resisted. Involving people who might be affected by the changes early, and seeking their input, can help to encourage buy-in.
Before you implement changes, discuss some key indicators you will use to assess whether your improvements are having their intended effect.
Then, after rolling out the new process, closely track how things are working in the weeks that follow to make sure the enhanced process is performing as expected. Monitoring also enables you to fix any problems that might occur. Check in with the people involved in the new process to see how it’s working and if any additional changes are needed.