No matter how well businesses are preforming, they can always improve in one way or another, and that extra efficiency can usually be found by improving one or more processes within the operation. This is true of practically every business, whether it’s a cabinet dealership, a home remodeler or even a software company. By stepping back and taking an objective look at how the company operates, a business owner can find ways to improve efficiency that will strengthen the bottom line. Take a look at these examples:
1. Map the current process
Jim runs a successful kitchen and bath business, but lately he’s noticed orders from one of his most popular manufacturers have been arriving incorrectly. He learns that the manufacturer accepts any order – 2020 design file, hand drawn designs, etc. – as long as they have the correct cover sheet. Every one of his sales people submits their orders differently. By mapping the order process in his dealership, Jim has found that there’s not just a problem with the process, but no process at all.
Businesses like Jim’s often suffer from the muddy middle where broken processes go to die. By mapping the critical processes within your business you can find problem areas, brainstorm why they exist, and research how other companies have dealt with similar issues.
2. Identify potential changes
Jim has several ideas to fix the broken ordering process his company is facing. He could add someone to the process who would handle all outgoing orders, but that would require a new hire and the associated hidden costs. He could designate a salesperson to handle orders for this particular manufacturer, but that would cut back on his selling time. Jim decides to create a standard order process that every salesperson will be required to follow.
When you’ve identified problems within a critical process, you should think of changes that will fix that problem. Make sure to incorporate your employees in this step; they’ll recommend changes you might not think of and help determine whether a new process will affect other departments in the organization.
3. Design a new process
After gathering input from his sales team, Jim creates a standard order process for the particular manufacturer and lets his sales people try it out. He tells them to report any issues that may arise from the new process, and keeps an eye on them for the first few weeks.
With any new process, you must ensure that it helps accomplish your company goals; in Jim’s case, it’s providing customers with a correct order the first time. Review the new process with your team, monitor and tweak the process when any peculiarities arise, and document all changes that are made.
4. Evaluate the results
Three months after implementing the new ordering process Jim has seen a reduction in the number of incorrect orders and an improvement in customer satisfaction. He’s reviewed with his sales team, and after a few bumps and hiccups, everyone is happy with the new process.
After implementing a new process it’s important to measure changes in your operational activity to make sure that process is helping the business achieve its goals. Equally as important is keeping communication open with your team to make sure they’re happy.
Professional business process review
Doing a self-assessed business process review can be very helpful, but finding a solution for a broken process isn’t always as easy as it was for Jim. Sometimes the answer may be implementing new software or hiring additional employees. It may also be necessary to bring in outside help. The professional, objective view of an outsider will help quickly identify problem areas and assist with finding improvements. Find out how, as an Equilibrium client, you can qualify for a free assessment.