Business Process Optimization has far-reaching effects across all aspects of your business. Often-times, it’s not what needs to be addressed but, rather, how to address it. Many a process improvement voyages that count on information technology as the how – presuming automation is all that’s needed for a ‘quick fix’ – have run aground on the rocks of dysfunctional processes. Automating functions of a broken process might help your users work faster, but the benefits soon falter because no one is working smarter or more efficiently.
Here are a few tips based on my experience in driving the change needed to successfully execute on business process improvement:
Leadership Alignment. Determine what keeps senior management up at night as it relates to their business. Ask them to identify the Top Ten List of causes for sleep deprivation, then build your strategic process improvement plan based on that list.
Score Quick Wins with Low-Hanging Fruit. The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. This is also true with process improvement initiatives. Scope and scale of many such initiatives become so unwieldy – and timelines so far into the future – that projects languish and ultimately fail. Identify projects that have broad impact across multiple departments where control rests with a small, manageable set of domain experts. It has to be controlled enough to produce tangible results in 3-6 months. Then take those results and…
…Build Momentum From Early Successes. Parlay your new-found success into a ringing endorsement of how collaboration with leadership has produced benefits quickly, then be ready to engage them in broader scoped initiatives involving a more diverse set of end users.
People Fear Change More Than They Fear Death. Ultimately, all process improvement is about change management. No amount of technology, data or expert analysis will move the meter unless the front-line users are willing to go there. Focus on your key ‘go-to’ people. They are your go-to people precisely because they understand the dysfunction of the current set of processes, and often times already have the answer. You are their champion. Give them a voice!
Empower Through Simplification. So you’ve come through your first 1 or 2 process improvement initiatives and the value is gaining recognition. You know there is a lot more opportunity out there but you don’t want to break the bank paying someone else to guide you through the maze of technology and industry verbiage on how to do process improvement. Use the skills you’ve already learned. Break the process down to its base elements. Empower your people to own the process and drive the next set of initiatives. They CAN do it!