If you've been following our series of posts on reviewing your business processes, you'll have seen how we approach including the right people, mapping your existing processes, identifying wastes, refreshing your processes, and testing and adapting them. And you'll have seen how we place this within a framework of continuous improvement. For our final post in the series, we're sharing our top tips to make your process review successful!
Top tip 1: Focus on the people
When you're looking at business process, it's easy to focus most of your attention on how things happen or the functionality of a system. This is important, but the best way to make processes effective is to focus on the people who have different experiences of and interactions with that process - from carrying them out to using them. Ask these people lots of questions. How does the process work for them? What could be improved? What's the best thing about it? What's the worst? Start your review with the answers to these questions.
Top tip 2: Define your process
Another easy trap is to try to review processes that are too large or too complex. In our experience, it's a much better use of your time to start by defining the elements of a larger process into smaller chunks - and then reviewing each chunk as a process in itself. Remember, a process is just something that takes you from one point to another. It really doesn't matter how far apart those points are. So, rather than trying to get from A to Z, try looking at A to B, then B to C, C to D and so on. You'll make more progress faster.
Top tip 3: Find an approach that works for you
There are lots of platforms and tools out there to help with your review, including how you represent your process in a diagram. Many of these can be quite complex, involving swim lanes, different symbols and multiple colours. You may want to invest in this expertise if you're in a large organisation with a huge number of intersecting processes. For most businesses, however, you'll be better served by choosing a way to represent your processes that best suits you. Simple processes can be captured in a basic document or slide, formatted into a flow chart. If you use different colours or symbols, remember to include a detailed key. Processes are only effective if the people implementing them understand them!
Top tip 4: Be open and honest about your processes
Process review is only effective if all the participants can be honest about how well or badly each step works for them. It's not good if a step is kept just because 'we've always done it that way'. So, have open discussions about why each part of the process is important and how it could be improved. And try not to be limited by the current functionality of your systems, which should be adapted around the needs of your processes, rather than dictating how they're done.
Top tip 5: Encourage continuous improvement!
Last, but definitely not least, process review should not be seen as a one-off exercise. You'll get most benefit - and innovation - by encouraging a mindset of continuous improvement. What does this mean? Well, you might have formal points in your operational plan to review each process, which might be a rolling programme throughout the year. The rest of the time, encourage staff to suggest ideas about how to improve the ways they work and build these in to your processes, rather than waiting for the next scheduled review point. This makes your processes much more effective and saves time at the formal process review.
We hope you've found our series on continuous improvement and process review useful. Watch this space for a full guide, coming your way soon! And remember, if you need help reviewing your processes, just get in touch. We'd be delighted to talk to you.