When it comes to improving business processes, organisations keep no stone upturned to sustain the market and win the race. However, more than 70% of Business Improvement projects fail to deliver expected results as they become victims to some of the biggest process improvement mistakes. Even a minor mistake towards the process improvement initiative can make companies end up losing all their business process management benefits.
So let’s have a quick look at what one MUST NOT be doing when practicing business process improvement (BPI):
1. Picking The ‘Wrong’ Processes
The success of a business improvement drive is determined by how strategically the processes are chosen for improvement. It is critical to identify the areas that actually need to be prioritised. The best practice is to create a business process library i.e. hierarchy of processes through Process Scoping that acts as a framework for all the processes currently being executed in a business. It helps in highlighting the ones need immediate attention among those which are directly associated with the bottom line of the organisation. Identification of the most appropriate processes usually depends on the following parameters:
· Business challenges
· Strategic goals
· Customer impact
· Volume of transaction
· Frequency of execution
· Risks involved
Choosing right processes helps in setting the direction for a detailed evaluation for the review, analysis and improvement the
2. Going Too Fast / Too Slow
‘Right pace’ enables enterprises to gain more control over their business processes and impacts their way of transformation significantly. It is all about getting to the heart of the matter and finding feasible solutions for improvements. The entire task needs to be done in the shortest possible time, while maintaining the quality of outcomes.
However, doing haste to improve may result into an imperfect current-state map with a flawed subsequent analysis. It will also disrupt the day jobs of associated people, thereby triggering customer fatigue and losing stakeholder buy-in eventually. Conversely if an organisation goes too slow, the process becomes obsolete by the time it is improved. Hence, the ideal practice is to improve a business process in a monitored environment and at a controlled pace. It brings a balance between the requirements and the budget of an organisation, while delivering excellent outcomes.
3. Ignoring Process Documentation
A recent BP Trends report has revealed that only 49% of organisations document their business processes and that too occasionally. However, good documentation is imperative for building the foundation of continuous process improvement through better decision-making, faster implementation, accurate execution and easier error reduction.
To keep a track of all tangible outcomes of a process improvement initiative, organisations can:
Ø Identify the processes of high priority
Ø Know exactly what to analyse
Ø Set a direction for the thorough analysis of the processes
Ø Understand how improvement can make the processes fit into the overall activity of the organization
Map the processes that need to be improved. This ensures better clarification, communication and consistency across the organisation, which leads to long-term benefits in terms of improved customer satisfaction and increased revenue growth.
4. Overlooking Team Competency
Skilled and well-trained people form the backbone of a business improvement drive. Paying zero attention to the competency of team implies putting effort with no effectiveness. Precisely, a successful Process Improvement initiative is backed up by people with:
· Multiple skillsets (process mapping, process analysis, information gathering, statistical and data analysis, business analysis, project management, change management, and so forth)
· Vast experience of working across domains and functional areas
· Expertise in some of the best tools, methodologies and standards (BPM or Business Process Management, Lean, Six Sigma, TQM or Total Quality Management, PDCA Approach, and so on) used across the industry
· Globally recognized certifications (IIBA, OMG, Black Belt, etc.) It is impossible for an individual to come equipped with all these skills.
Hence, keeping a proficient team in place is imperative to work together and deliver the desired outcomes.
5. Following A Sporadic Approach
Most of the organisations fail to improve their businesses continually and hence, lag behind the competitive market. They consider Business Process Improvement as a one-off project, which has two major drawbacks:
· It restricts new inputs (technologies, viewpoints, etc.) that are necessary for better execution of processes and sustaining the competition
· As the processes change over time, the old process maps get obsolete leaving the whole initiative out-of-sync with the business
In short, a sporadic approach prevents businesses from becoming agile and reaping actual benefits of the improvement programs.
The survival as well as the long-term success of a business is largely depended on how rapidly the organisation is evolving. It should foster a ‘continuous’ improvement culture with the help of three major traits:
· Structured methodology
· Skilled team
· Analytical tool
It successfully brings together all the critical elements of an enterprise i.e. people, processes, systems and governance, which results into sustainable business excellence. A foolproof continuous business improvement strategy can help an organisation transform by:
· Automatic business processes
· Maximising operational efficiencies
· Improving customer service
· Gaining competitive advantage
· Realising financial benefits
However, enterprises need to overcome these five major drawbacks to bring measurable process performance and achieve their strategic objectives.