Process improvement can be defined as a proactive approach to improving existing business processes. The improvement process includes identifying, analyzing, optimizing, and monitoring the company’s internal and external processes.
The purpose of business process improvement, as its name implies, is to improve and optimize existing business processes, which will result in a more efficiently-run organization that provides top-quality services and customer satisfaction.
One can even say that continuous process improvement is vital for a business to be successful. It’s the foundation on which an organization operates, allowing it to continuously improve and build its competitive advantage.
However, while the primary purpose of business process improvement is clear, it can be achieved in several ways. The following article will discuss the most important aspects of how business process improvement can help the organization’s performance.
Why Is Business Process Improvement Important?
On paper, process improvement is particularly beneficial for organizations struggling with poor project management, inefficient workflows, decreased productivity, etc. However, the reality is that business process improvement is not a one-time project for struggling businesses. It’s a continuous improvement process any organization can benefit from.
And given how fast-paced and competitive today’s business environment is, process improvement should be an integral part of any organization’s long-term strategy. How exactly can business process improvement help organizations achieve success? There are several advantages that contribute to this ultimate purpose of process improvement.
More Efficient and Smoother Workflows
Workflow optimization is a vital part of business process improvement. By streamlining processes and eliminating tedious and repetitive tasks, an organization can enhance the productivity and efficiency of its employees. The best way to do that is by using dedicated workflow automation software.
Through workflow automation, organizations can streamline workflow processes, enhance project management, and improve communication between different teams. It can also help teams work more efficiently and effectively, ensuring they meet deadlines while enhancing their quality of work.
Workflow automation can also help managers monitor how their teams perform. This allows them to react faster and apply necessary changes to a workflow structure, such as task assignment or resource allocation.
To create a more efficient workflow, the first step often involves business process mapping. By using a process map, organizations can visualize their current processes, making it easier to identify areas of improvement.
Elimination of Errors and Waste
Business process improvement involves thoroughly analyzing existing processes and procedures. With valuable insights into the organization’s actual performance, managers can more easily identify errors and waste.
Process improvement can also help managers assess the profitability of various aspects of their business. Business Process Management software (BPMS) can prove very useful across the entire enterprise, providing managers with thorough analysis and insights into how any activity in an organization is performing.
Based on the data provided, managers can find new, more efficient ways to allocate resources and distribute tasks. If done correctly, such changes can streamline workflows, eliminating errors and waste, be it money, time, or other resources.
Reshaping the Company Culture
Vision, goals, attitude, and processes all contribute to establishing the company culture. They help an organization establish its practices and workflows, with the ultimate goal of creating a business culture that strives to provide the best possible services to its customers. Having a cohesive culture also provides more clarity among employees, boosting their productivity and morale.
Through business process improvement, management can evaluate their current strategy, vision, and goals. Managers can then check whether the performance and present workflows support it and whether implementing specific changes is necessary. Often, process improvement ends with reshaping the culture and improving processes to support it.
Improved Employee Morale
When improving business processes, it’s vital to involve employees. This can help them understand the vision and goals the company strives to achieve. Because of that, employees will see that they play a crucial role in how the organization performs, boosting their morale and making them feel more connected to the organization and its values.
Not only that, by automating repetitive and tedious tasks, businesses can streamline their processes, boosting productivity among team members. With better task and resource distribution, every team member can focus on their work, enhancing its quality and delivery. They will also remain more motivated and satisfied with their job, decreasing the company’s turnover rate.
Higher Customer Satisfaction
The purpose of process improvement is to create an efficient business that provides top-quality services/products to its customers. If that goal is achieved, enhanced quality will increase customer satisfaction.
More satisfied clients/customers contribute to enhanced revenue and wider brand awareness. With the organization providing high-quality services, it’s also easier to find and attract new customers to become loyal clients. Decreased costs of improved workflows, better resource management, and more efficient processes lead to better business profitability.
The Role of BPI in Different Industries
Business Process Improvement (BPI) transcends industry boundaries, offering unique benefits to each sector. Let’s examine the impact of BPI across diverse industries:
Manufacturing units harness the power of BPI to instill lean manufacturing and Six Sigma methodologies. The focus is on waste reduction, quality enhancement, and efficiency improvement in production processes.
For instance, BPI streamlines the ordering process and optimizes inventory management, curtailing lead times and carrying costs. The integration of digital automation in manufacturing processes further minimizes errors and bolsters productivity.
Quality of patient care and outcomes increases significantly with the implementation of BPI in healthcare. Administrative tasks are streamlined through business process automation, freeing up healthcare providers to devote more time to patient care.
Efficiency in patient scheduling, medical billing, and record management is another feather in the cap of BPI, along with compliance with regulatory standards and adherence to best practices.
Information Technology (IT)
BPI is the backbone of software development, system integration, and IT support processes in the IT sector. The adoption of agile methodologies in software development, a form of BPI, underscores the importance of continuous improvement and flexibility. Project management, system performance, and customer support are other areas where BPI makes a significant difference in IT companies.
The retail industry leverages BPI to optimize a gamut of processes, from supply chain management to customer service. Supply chain streamlining ensures efficient product delivery from the warehouse to the sales floor. On the customer service front, BPI enhances the customer experience by improving processes related to returns, exchanges, and customer inquiries.
Accuracy, efficiency, and compliance in the finance sector can be much improved with BPI. Financial institutions streamline their processes, such as loan processing, risk management, and regulatory reporting. This not only ramps up efficiency but also mitigates the risk of errors that can lead to regulatory fines.
Exploring and Adopting Effective Business Process Improvement Techniques and Methodologies
There are several different BPI techniques and methodologies that are commonly employed.
Lean – Originating from the Toyota Production System, Lean focuses on waste reduction within a system without sacrificing productivity. By identifying and eliminating non-value-adding activities, Lean helps streamline processes, improve efficiency, and increase value to the customer.
Six Sigma – This technique aims to reduce process variation and improve quality by identifying and removing the causes of defects. Six Sigma uses a set of quality management methods, mainly empirical and statistical, and relies on a special infrastructure of people within the organization committed to improving organizational quality.
Total Quality Management (TQM) – is a management approach that seeks to improve the quality of products and services by continuously refining processes in response to continuous feedback. TQM can enhance customer satisfaction and improve the overall operational efficiency of an organization.
Kaizen – A Japanese term meaning “change for the better,” Kaizen involves continuous, incremental improvement of an existing process. As a business philosophy, it encourages constant evaluations and small daily changes to achieve larger goals over time.
PDCA Cycle – This business process improvement methodology is a four-step management method used for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products. It stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act.
The ‘Plan’ phase involves identifying the process that needs improvement and establishing objectives. The ‘Do’ phase is about implementing changes on a small scale as a test. The ‘Check’ phase evaluates the results of the test, and the ‘Act’ phase is about implementing the changes on a wider scale if the test was successful.
The cycle then begins again, making the PDCA Cycle ideal for continuous business process improvement.
Choosing the right methodology depends on the organization’s specific needs, the nature of the process that needs improvement, and desired outcomes. The goal of BPI is not just to implement a methodology but to achieve continuous business process improvement to enhance a business’s overall process performance.
Business Process Management (BPM) vs. Business Process Improvement (BPI)
Business process management is a holistic approach encompassing all the activities involved in managing and optimizing an organization’s business processes.
It’s a broad framework that includes the design, modeling, execution, monitoring, and optimization of processes.
BPI is a subset of BPM. It’s a proactive approach that focuses on improving existing business processes to drive efficiency and effectiveness. BPI involves identifying inefficiencies in the current process, proposing improvements, and implementing these changes. BPI’s goals are to reduce process time, eliminate waste, and improve quality.
In essence, while BPM provides the overall framework for managing processes, BPI is the mechanism that drives the actual improvement within this framework. Both often work hand in hand. For instance, an organization might use BPM to manage its processes and then apply BPI techniques to improve them. This synergy between BPM and BPI can lead to significant improvements in business performance and customer satisfaction.
The purpose of business process improvement is to achieve operational excellence. By improving existing processes and creating more efficient workflows, an organization can manage its resources and projects more efficiently, eliminate waste and errors, and reshape its culture. Ultimately, such changes will lead to a productivity boost, resulting in improved services and higher customer satisfaction.
What’s vital to understand here is that business process improvement is not a one-time thing. It’s a continuous process that requires constant monitoring and evaluation to find even more efficient solutions. Here’s where HighGear can help.
Our no-code, state-of-the-art workflow application platform can help you manage your business processes more efficiently, providing you with all the tools an organization needs to improve. Schedule a demo today, and let us help your organization become the best version of itself, continuously improving to achieve success.