Business Process Improvement (BPI)
The continual practice of reinventing an organization’s routines with the aim of improving efficiency.
How to Implement BPI
BPI is a marathon, not a sprint. Trying to improve too many processes at once will likely lead to management and/or employee burnout. Instead, observe some of the processes that occur within your businesses most often, and choose the one that could use the most improvement.
Don’t Go It Alone
Successful BPI requires support from both management and employees. Be sure to involve all relevant parties in the process of improvement. Create a change-leading team that can help identify and implement solutions.
1. Observe & Document
Thoroughly document the process from start to finish.
Note all of the following:
What triggers the beginning of the process?
The people involved in each step of the process (these could be employees, partners, or customers)
Any and all decisions that might be made within the process • How long it takes for each step to be completed
What marks the end of the process (A product? A transaction? A finished task?)
Things that work well in the process
Things that do not work well
It is important to be as specific as possible when documenting the process as it currently exists. Be sure to speak with every individual involved in the process to understand their roles—their opinions of the process are valuable information as well.
2. Diagnose Inefficiencies, Redundancies, and Waste
No process is perfect, so there will likely be room for improvement from the start. However, be sure to look further even after identifying the obvious pain points.
Ask why each step is done in that way.
Consider which steps are necessary and which may be redundant.
Think of how the process might scale as the business changes and grows.
If there are multiple improvements to make, order them in order of importance to focus management’s energy on the most vital changes.
3. Identify solutions
There are plenty of ways to come up with solutions to a business’s problems, but be sure to view the issue from many different lenses.
Consider speaking to other business leaders to see if they have any advice to share.
Crowdsource ideas from employees; they have firsthand knowledge of the processes. Research potential services or technology solutions online.
Some problems can benefit from outside help, such as consulting (like AMI!)
Brainstorm with your team to come up with the best feasible solutions.
4. Set a Plan of Action
After identifying the problem and solution, decide how to implement the necessary changes.
Who will be required to lead the change?
What business functions will it affect?
Work with the individuals involved in the process in order to document each step of the necessary change(s), and share the information with all relevant parties. Remember that buy-in from management and employees is key. Be sure to explain the why behind every process change. Set goals for each part of the improvement with deadlines and measurable results. Finally, allocate the necessary time and financial resources.
5. Implement the Change
The hardest step in improving business processes is undergoing the change itself. Begin implementing the plan, taking into account feedback from those involved and any relevant metrics to measure
Document what goes well and what needs more work still. More reinvention might still need to happen—don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board when a new idea doesn’t work out as planned.
Once your improvements have been implemented, evaluate the return on the time and money invested into the project. Hopefully, the process is now faster, more efficient, or more cost-effective. Keep an eye on the outcomes of the process to see how quality changes. Get feedback from individuals the process affects. Use any and all information available to continually make small changes to keep the process current and efficient. Take what you learned from the endeavor to inform how to undergo future process improvement.
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