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Process Improvement: The Need and the How to Fix It Forever

In my experience of working in various organisations and sectors, I have come to appreciate just how extensive the need for process reform is. Organisations often fall into the trap of:

  • Changing processes regularly without documenting or communicating this.
  • Building in work around steps that are often missed off of “Current State” mapping.
  • Moving processes or work without reviewing the process to understand if it is fit for purpose in the first place.
  • Adding in new steps time and time again without removing others or appreciating the impact.
Process Improvement: The Need and the How to Fix It Forever

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The Need

The need to review, reform and improve processes is important because of the impact bloated or outdated processes can have. As times change, new regulations come in and technology evolves, current processes may not have the right controls in place to ensure we are compliant, working at full efficiency or will deliver the right level of customer service.

The need to improve processes regularly is also to ensure your business can grow more efficiently! Rather than simply hiring more and more people to take on the increased workload, think about removing process steps, manual interventions and hand offs. You will be surprised at how much capacity this can free up, enabling your business to grow quicker and more immediately.

A further need to do this is to ensure your staff have the right balance between processing the work, but also focusing on quality and customer service. It is often the case that in rapidly growing businesses, quality and customer service can be impacted. Businesses need to be ready for growth, and the more efficient they make their processes, the readier they will be when that growth comes.

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The How

Process improvement could be a one off event, an end to end review of all processes within the department / organisation – but this should always be followed up with a regular review.

For me, process improvement should be constant. I would say that in my current role, I see at least one new process step being proposed for any one process at least once a week. This is how processes can often become bloated, and even though it may be the smallest addition, such as a checklist or extra signatory, overtime, these small changes all add up. Therefore, if organisations are happy to add in a step or two every now and then, why not also review the process every now and then?

This is how I approach process reviews and reforms:

  1. Map out all of the required processes alongside the process Service Matter Expert.
  2. Organise a workshop with the wider team to discuss individual processes, looking at the pain points, the waste and the opportunities.
  3. With step 1 and 2 complete, go away and review the current state and the feedback from the workshops to understand possible changes.
  4. Submit a list of recommendations to the leadership team, showing current and proposed future states, total savings and highlight new control measures.
  5. Once you have the buy in of the leadership team (which is critical from a driving the change perspective) submit the findings to the wider team for further consultation.
  6. Finalise any changes or amendments with the team. If the workshops were run correctly, there should be very few if any changes needed.
  7. For smaller, less evasive processes, roll these out over an adequate time period.
  8. For larger processes, test segments of the new process to ensure it can work in practice. Give the team time to do this, and get their feedback.
  9. If testing goes well, roll out the processes over an adequate time frame.
  10. Before, during and after each process change, communicate out EFFECTIVELY to all stakeholders about the change, timelines, potential impacts etc.

Please note

If the process being mapped spans several departments, or if the product / information produced in or following this process impacts other departments, you must ensure they are involved in step 1, 2, 5 and 6.

One Final Key Point Here – Give the Process an Owner!

Someone who knows the process inside out, will see when amendments are being proposed and will be able to spot opportunities when they arise. This individual should also own the process map and SOP documentation, and ensure they are updated in line with any changes.

By doing all of this, the need for large scale reviews every year or so should be minimised.

Robert Chapman
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Robert Chapman
Business Improvement Programme Lead
Subjects of Expertise: Change Management, Project Management, Business Analysis
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Robert Chapman
Business Improvement Programme Lead

Subjects of Expertise

Change Management
Project Management
Business Analysis

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