The modern business landscape is extremely competitive. Today, 90% of business owners say their industry has become more challenging in the past three years, while 48% said that their industry has become “much more competitive”.
Process improvement can help you stand out from the crowd and master workplace efficiency. Even small improvements, like replacing paper documents with digital ones, can have a profound impact on your day-to-day productivity.
However, you’ll need to adopt a strategic approach if you want to make the most of process improvements. Strategic, forward-thinking improvements will improve uptake, reduce the risk of confusion, and help all employees make the most of your process-focused improvements.
Process Improvement Methodologies
Six Sigma: Used in manufacturing to detect faults and address the root cause of potential issues.
Total Quality Management (TQM): Best for B2C firms that want to improve customer satisfaction. TQM focuses on continuous improvement and involves the whole team.
Kaizen: Kaizen seeks to reduce waste, minimize overproduction, and reduce the strain on employees and machinery alike.
Business Process Management (BPM): BPM pushes your decision-makers to respond to changes and test potential solutions to contemporary problems.
Finding the right process improvement methodology for your firm may take some trial and error. You’ll ultimately have certain goals that not all methodologies can give you the right results for. However, each of these methodologies is certain to improve your self-knowledge and help you make strategic changes to your business’s day-to-day operations.
Efficiency and Wellbeing
Improved efficiency isn’t just good for profits; it’s also great for employee wellbeing. Highly motivated employees want to work without distraction and will benefit greatly from optimized workflow processes. This will reduce stress, improve morale, and empower staff to make more decisive decisions.
Highly efficient workplaces are safer, too. Maintaining a clean, orderly workplace minimizes the risk of accidents and helps folks focus on the task at hand. Improvement methodologies like Kaizen will reduce the strain on your staff and reduce their workloads. This can significantly reduce workplace stress and help cut down on things like human error and sick days.
Consider reviewing your current safety policies if you suspect that staff are at risk of injury, illness, or accidents at work. Use safety and compliance monitoring tech to check that employees actually follow protocols and communicate regularly with folks who fail to abide by your safety rules. This will incentivize staff to work safely and reduce the risk of accidents that undermine your operations.
Often, making your business more efficient will not only help you save time, but it may even help you save the Earth and the longevity of your company simultaneously. This is especially important considering that more and more customers today prioritize companies that value sustainability. Nearly 80% of customers value sustainability, and report this value affecting their shopping behaviors.
As a company, you can promote sustainability with eco-friendly future-proofing actions. Actions like automating your processes, instituting remote or hybrid work options when available, and updating your inventory system all come with their own benefits. They will make your workplace more efficient, reduce waste, keep your employees and customers happier, and generally ensure the success of your company.
Effective workflow management is crucial to almost all modern businesses. However, many firms continue to use outdated workflow systems. This can reduce workplace productivity, undermine collaborative projects, and leave folks feeling frustrated.
Fortunately, you can use data to improve your workflow. Start by implementing data standards, like the Global Data Standards Initiative (GDSI), as this will ensure that most of your data is clean before you try to use it.
When analyzing data, focus on big-picture goals: which departments need to improve their efficiency? How are you tracking productivity? What kind of workflow systems do you want folks to use? This will help you make sense of your data and track the improvements you make.
Continue to gather and analyze data after rolling out a change to your workflow. This will help you assess the efficacy of new systems and notice when things start to go awry. Don’t be afraid to make changes based on data, as even small tweaks can have a profound impact on day-to-day productivity.
Automation is a cornerstone of the modern workplace. Automating mundane, manual tasks can free up time for more creative work and boost morale at your business. Embracing the digital revolution shows staff that you care about productivity, too, and will encourage folks to embrace the new tech.
Automation is particularly useful if you work with external stakeholders like contractors or B2B firms. Contract automation improves productivity by generating and negotiating contracts on your behalf. This minimizes the risk of human error and improves legal compliance.
You should also use data to track and manage your business efficiency. Automation tools are capable of gathering data and crunching the numbers in real-time, meaning you don’t have to wait for quarterly reports or external analysis to tell you whether or not a product launch has been successful.
Regular process improvements can maximize your productivity and empower your employees. However, 70% of all process improvements fail. This can be deeply frustrating when you’re trying to boost your profits and rediscover your competitive edge. Common reasons for process improvement failure include:
- Overcomplicating the process;
- A lack of ownership;
- Inability to adjust the plan;
- Communication failures.
These common issues can be overcome with a forward-thinking, flexible approach to decision-making. Survey your staff regularly when planning improvements and don’t hesitate to make a change if you notice that something just isn’t working.
Try to foreground accountability when rolling out a new process improvement. Employees may be resistant to the new process if they are used to the old system and could ignore the change if they aren’t held accountable. Be gentle when reminding employees of their duty to use the new system, as folks will be frustrated by a heavy hand when they’re learning to use new software.
Once you’ve rolled out the new process improvement, be sure to gather as much feedback as possible. You’ll almost certainly need to change your approach after trialling the new system and will benefit greatly from employee insights. Give folks a chance to offer anonymous feedback, too, as some may feel pressured to fit in with their peers and withhold their genuine opinions.
Mastering efficiency can help your firm stand out from the crowd. Just be sure to keep changes simple, as this will help you make changes as you roll out a new process improvement scheme.