Processes exist in all organizations. But different organizations have different processes. They vary depending on the business objectives. A process can easily hit a plateau in a business. They need to get better with time. Your organization must rethink your processes to keep up with the competition and the changes in an industry.
That’s where process improvement comes in
Simply put, process improvement is reviewing, analyzing and upgrading your existing process.
Let’s say a social media marketer sets a goal is to gain at least 100 engaged followers every month on Twitter.
He chalks out a plan that includes scheduled tweets, right hashtags, a list of relevant users to engage with, and an analytics tool to get metrics for the Twitter account. His plan works for the first two months. But from the third month, he realizes some of the user accounts he is engaging with are fake. He also notices that his business’ target audience is having more conversations with a competitor’s account. So, what can he do? Should he use a tool that blocks fake users? Should he research what the competitor is doing better?
He had a plan when he first set his goal. But he now needs another plan to improve user engagement and to understand the competition better.
It is the same for established processes. It should not be taken for granted that they will work with the same efficiency or stay aligned to a business goal throughout their existence.
Now consider this, the social media marketer decides to stick to his original plan without adding any improvements. Within the next two months, the number of engaged followers could drop and the account might attract more spam. The competition could establish a better presence on Twitter during that time. In such a case, a process improvement plan would be handy for the marketer instead of a back-up plan. An improvement plan will definitely make it easier for him to get back on track and still maintain his initial goal.
Likewise, your organization should not wait for processes to become unproductive. You should have a process improvement plan to continue to progress towards your business benchmarks.
How to create a process improvement plan?
A process improvement plan is not a contingency plan. Its purpose is to remove any blocks in a process to avoid the need for a contingency. It usually reduces the time taken to finish a process and boosts the efficiency and quality of any work process.
A process improvement plan can be used to enhance an organization’s different processes as well as a part of project management. A well-established process may lose its effectiveness when external factors change.
Ideally, it should also aim to fill in the communication gaps between different teams, meet compliance requirements and avoid wastefulness of resources.
Once you narrow down the processes you want to improve, you should follow these steps to form an effective improvement plan.
Map the process
You must break down the process step by step to get a visual map of the overall process. This can help you to identify any potential blocks in your process.
Many simple tools are available that offer visual templates to understand the processes. Solastis CRM is one such simple software. Alternatively, you can use excel to break down the process in multiple steps.
Analyze the process
Once you visualize the process, you should then analyze it with the help of metrics and find out the reasons for the roadblocks in your process. For example, finding out what caused the process to miss deadlines, or which step is the most important for efficiency among others.
Update the process
Once you know the in weak points, then you can focus on how to get rid of them, or how to improve upon them. In most of the cases, a complete redesign of the process is not required. Normally what you will notice is, there are one or two points which need to be improved upon.
For example in a sales process, you may find out that lack of personal communication with the client is resulting in lost sales opportunities. In this situation, you will work towards a process where more personal interaction (through a meeting, Demo, telephone calls etc.) is provided.
Apply A/B testing
Mapping, analyzing and updating any process will equip you with all the data you need.
With that data, you can have two or more versions of the process that you want to implement. You can experiment to find out which version is better – version A or version B. This is called A/B testing. In this case, you execute both the versions of the process and observe the outcome. Ideally, you should do this for a reasonable number so that a statistically significant sample is achieved.
Testing will give you better insights into your data.
Implement the process
Even though you have already used A/B testing, implement the improvements on a small scale. Based on the results, reallocate your resources. Make sure all the teams are aware of and on board with the changes before implementing the process.
Review the process
Plans do not always pan out the way you want them to be. After you implement the changes, monitor how your processes were carried out. Use the new data to determine if your process improvement plan was effective or not.
Key factors to consider for an effective process improvement plan
Keep it manageable
Avoid implementing all the solutions or changes in one go. It is important that you work on a limited number of processes so that are not difficult to manage.
Use a simple yet appealing visual tool
For a process to follow a plan, the people involved need to bring about the change both as a part of a team as well as an individual. So, a consistent communication channel is important for a process improvement plan. If people in your organization have a simple yet powerful visual software to understand what is expected of them it will set clear goals for them. It will also motivate them as they can see how their contribution can make a difference in your organization.
Avoid implementing process improvement plans frequently
If you implement changes often, it will lead to inconsistent communication among your workforce. This can lead to further confusion and a process improvement plan may not get applied at all.
Continue to improve after your process improvement plan is implemented
You must create feedback loops to gather further actionable data. Metrics will give you a real picture of your process improvement plan.
To conclude, you must keep in mind that process improvement plans are supposed to keep on improving continuously. There is always room for a process to be more efficient. And so, your work to get better will not stop with one loop of a process improvement plan, it is bound to recur as a part of your business processes.
Benefits of an improved process after successfully implementing a process improvement plan
Optimum use of information
It is convenient to have all your information in one place. It can then be easily accessed by different team managers, team members as well as new employees. Everyone can then stay on the same page about a process.
Better collaboration between teams
After using a process improvement plan, it could be easier to collaborate on a process. The teams involved could see and get notified about every sequential step in the improved process.
An improved process can be visualized through software like Solastis CRM which offers sequential visualization of tasks. Better visibility of tasks leads to better clarity in executing them.
Clear delegation of responsibilities
Now that you improved a process with the help of a plan, you can delegate specific people for a particular task. This encourages transparency.
Each team in your organization can have its own process. But since different teams need to work with each other, it can be inefficient to follow multiple processes. You could standardize work processes by executing a process improvement plan and help your teams to keep up with each other.
Standardization also can help in avoiding any legal risks.
Overall, you could expect a business process to deliver the same quality of work with continued or enhanced efficiency if you have a process improvement plan in place.
You can consider using Solastis CRM to implement a process improvement plan in your organization.