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How Your Company Can Benefit From Business Process Improvement

Businesses follow certain processes & procedures as they create products or deliver services to customers. What's the best business process improvement for you?

Every business follows certain processes and procedures as it goes about creating products and/or delivering services to its customers. These processes differ from one company to the next, even for businesses that are in the same industry producing and delivering the same products and services.



Morphing Over Time

Business processes develop over time, and they tend to morph and change as a company grows and evolves. Often, these process changes increase efficiency and productivity, but not always.
“That’s why it’s a good idea to step back periodically and take a fresh look at the processes that are followed at your company in the course of product creation and service delivery,” says Cadence Bank Chief Financial Officer Valerie Toalson. A great way to do this is to conduct a business process improvement (or BPI) exercise.
Business process improvement is defined as "a systematic approach to help an organization optimize its underlying processes to achieve more efficient results."



“We’ve Always Done It That Way” 

Toalson says these may be the six most dangerous words in business. “Just because you’ve always done a business process a certain way doesn’t mean that’s the best way to do it,” she says. “Conducting a business process improvement exercise will help you and your employees break out of the complacency that often leads to process inefficiencies and lower profits.”




Here is a four-step process you can follow to conduct a BPI exercise: 

1. Identify the best process improvement opportunities within your organization. Conduct a process review or brainstorming session that details the major processes followed in your company from start to finish. These can be processes related to manufacturing and delivering products or providing services to your customers, or other processes that aren’t directly related to your products and services — like your interviewing and hiring processes, for example. Your process review will help you decide which processes offer the most opportunity for improvements that can boost efficiency and save your company money. As a high-level flag, processes that have lots of paper and/or people involved tend to be good targets for improvement.
2. Analyze your current business processes. Once you’ve identified the business processes you want to focus on improving, you need to scrutinize and break them down into their core components so you can analyze how they can best be improved. The process needs to be mapped from beginning to end as it exists, before identifying improvements. This is ideally performed in a team environment, involving those employees who actually perform the work.
Once you identify the existing process, ask questions like:
  • Which parts of the process are broken and which parts are still working well?
  • Which parts create barriers and roadblocks that hinder completion of the overall process?
  • Which parts are the most time-consuming and redundant, resulting in frustrating delays and repetition of tasks?
  • Which parts result in unnecessary cost increases and/or wasteful allocation of resources?


3. Develop process solutions. Only after these steps are completed should any solutions be vetted. It also is important to focus first on the process, and not immediately move to a technology solution. While that may be appropriate, it is important to first fix the process. In developing solutions, address process, skill sets/talent, and tools. Quantify the improvement potential in terms of quality, service, money and other as applicable.
4. Get buy-in and support from top management and those responsible for making process improvements happen. You now should have a good idea of how your organization will benefit from making these improvements to the processes analyzed. Next it is the time to present your findings and recommendations to senior management to make sure they are on board with your BPI exercise. Be sure to explain in detail how the process improvements will boost the company’s bottom line and result in other tangible benefits. Also share these findings with those who will be actively involved in executing the process improvements and initiate an implementation plan.
With management buy-in to your BPI exercise and support from those on the front-line who will be responsible for making change happen, you now can create your overall business process improvement strategy. This strategy should detail the steps that will be taken as you set about improving business processes, as well as measurable goals for process improvement so you can gauge your progress against these objectives.
These BPI exercises can be highly motivating to those employees involved in the process as well as greatly beneficial to the organization and its shareholders.
For more helpful information about running your business, visit Cadence Bank Fresh Insights.
This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.

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