APPL recently engaged in a Business Improvement Process by hiring experts and consultants to evaluate our internal systems and processes. The whole exercise was elaborate, exhausting and extremely demanding. The improvement process involves exhuming activities and getting to the core of things which may surprising not be performing as you had originally intended for it to perform. The entire experience is not only challenging mentally and physically, but can push you to the limit as you learn, investigate and then realise where the gaps lie in your existing systems.
It is never easy to implement new systems, new improved processes, and you may be faced with a lot of resistance as a team leader. There may be a need to replace some of the people in the system who may be a road block to you reaching your goals. Hiring new employees, opening up to new strategies and ideas poses its own challenges and teething problems.
As a leader of the organization, I was pushed to my limit and had to hold on to my patience, stay calm, composed and focused. It was not easy, but I can proudly say that we sailed through.
At this stage of the process improvement drive, I am convinced of its benefits and would like to share our purpose and experience for others to add value to their own businesses.
The need to bring in an external entity or task force to evaluate your existing systems is imperative. This works well as, an outsider with relevant experience would have a bird’s view and be able to see the gaps which may be missed by a person within the existing system.
Process improvements work best with a combination of external experts and core members of your team who have been driving the process that needs to be evaluated.
Any type of business process can be improved, from the most strategically important to the most mundane. Processes can be formal or informal. We were very clear with what we wanted and decided to move in that direction.
Below is Part 1 of our experience with APPLs Business process improvement.
Why did we want to explore a Business Process Improvement strategy?
The term “business process improvement” sounds straightforward enough: Making changes (improvements) to the way you work (your process) in order to see better results for your business.
While that definition is technically correct, in practice, business process improvement is a bit more complex. Business process improvement (also referred to as business process management (BPM), continuous improvement (CI), business process re-engineering, and others) is the practice of habitually identifying, analyzing, and improving business processes to optimize performance, improve quality, reduce waste, and create more value for customers.
Business process improvement isn’t a standalone activity: We have committed to practicing process improvement by identifying, evaluating and improving our existing processes on a continuous, proactive basis.
Process improvement isn’t just about fixing existing problems – it’s also about getting ahead of the competition.
That’s because at least some, if not all, of our competitors will be making such improvements. Succeeding in today’s business environment means constantly looking for ways to do things better.
Why Business Process Improvement Matters?
Inefficient, poorly defined, or otherwise ineffective processes can lead to numerous problems:
· Customers might complain about poor product quality or bad service
· Team members get frustrated
· Work might be duplicated or not completed at all
· Costs can increase
· Resources might be wasted
· Bottlenecks can develop, causing teams to miss deadlines
Unhappy customers, stressed colleagues, missed deadlines, and increased costs are just some of the problems that dysfunctional processes can create.
Why we expect increased productivity and efficiency out of this ecxercise?
Effective practices that support business process improvement can help remove inefficiencies and ultimately improve the productivity of team members. We worked with our consultants and came up with practical methods for enhancing our existing processes. We are on our way to evaluate performance using metrics and evolve processes without restricting the way our team works. We have concluded that structured reporting and analytics provide insights into work trends and help to remove bottlenecks, predict future issues, and adapt workflow processes for improved productivity.
The outcome we expect from this activity:
· Slowly over time we expect these process improvements to achieve a continuous flow of value by identifying hurdles sooner and resolving them more quickly. This will help us with Faster time to market.
· We are confident that we are heading towards Improved product quality. In addition to accelerating development, our business process improvement will lead to higher product quality. For example, by deploying the proper testing methods, we are more assured that products will advance to production only when performance, security, integration, and other issues have been resolved.
· Increase in customer satisfaction and loyalty by producing higher-quality products and delivering them in a timely manner. Happy customers are often return customers, and that loyalty leads to increased revenue for businesses.
· Improving employee morale by eliminating Inefficient processes which can be highly discouraging for workers. Who wants to be part of a system that’s broken and leads to frustration? Weak business processes can cause the morale of even the most hard-working employees to decline if they start to feel that all their efforts are being overwhelmed by the flaws of a system.
With this realisation we have begun our first phase of process improvement. We will keep sharing our experiences and insights in our journey.