Updated: Jul 27, 2019
Almost every Sunday, I do the grocery shopping while my wife takes care of the laundry. It works out well since we both dislike the other chore. While at the deli counter I typically order a half pound of cheese and a pound of deli meat. Each time, I painfully and helplessly watch the deli employees stop numerous times in the middle of slicing to walk over to the counter to get an estimated weight. I always think to myself how inefficient this process is and how great it would be if the slicers had built-in scales. In analyzing this process, there are numerous benefits to addressing this inefficiency:
• Shorter consumer wait times
• Better customer experience
• Employee labor costs
• Employee morale
• Competitive product pricing
• Decreased risk of losing customers to a competitor with better technology and/or improved processes
Businesses of any size could benefit from improvements in operational processes. These improvements will almost always yield some level of cost savings, operational efficiency and opportunities for growth. A process can be as simple as a single activity or a series of activities designed and intended to accomplish certain business goals. These activities might have several different types of inputs such as time, money, people, equipment, etc. The inputs combined with the process for the activity itself will produce some type of desired output, such as a product or service, a customer invoice, an employee paycheck, etc. Many of us, whether conscious or unconscious, will come across some type of inefficient process on a daily bases.
The main goal of process improvements is to improve profitability, productivity, and/or enhancing the customer experience. Processes may need to be improved for the following reasons:
Improve efficiencies and outcome through standardization (doing it the same way all the time)
Provide consistency for customers (getting the same quality each time a purchase is made).
Remove bottlenecks (slows a company’s ability to deliver products and services on time).
Reduce errors (increases efficiency, profitability, and customer satisfaction).
Reduce complexity (eliminates redundant or unnecessarily complex aspects).
Meet needs of new systems (generally requires a modification to current business processes).
Steps to Improvement
The “process” of process improvement cannot be haphazard. The steps that should normally be followed are:
Examine areas for change (areas not performing as well as expected).
Prioritize (which areas are potentially damaging to the business at the immediate time and what effect the change can possibly have on customers, employees, and profitability).
Decide what needs to change (zero in on areas that consistently have poor operating results or error issues).
Document and initiate process changes (make changes understandable by all employees involved and monitor to make sure the changes produce the desired results).
One critical component of process improvement is measurement; otherwise, there is no way to determine if the improvement is successful or not. Deciding on what a business measures depends on what processes should be improved. Examples of possible measurements might be:
Measure the number of returns
Reduce time from production to market
Lower cost of operations
Reduce billing errors
Increase rate of securing new customers
Reduce customer complaints
The list of measurements can be quite endless depending on the needed changes. It is important to understand that the goal for monitoring success is essential to know whether a particular process improvement was effective or not.
Process improvements can be a small or large undertaking depending on the number and scope of activities. The various improvements can take little time or be quite time consuming. The transformational effect, however, can have very positive results on the overall business if the right processes are targeted for improvement and implemented correctly.
With only so much time and energy allotted to each day, it is important to prioritize on what will be most beneficial for a business. Staying focused is the key. Process improvements should be prioritized that will yield the best results for a business in the shortest possible time with the least business interruption and cost. Process improvements are an important aspect of business growth.
About the Author
Jason Halberg is an accomplished executive who, in his most recent success, founded an internet startup and grew it into a company with 200 employees and $50 million in revenues. He is passionate and committed to helping fellow entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level. Through this company, High Voltage Advisors LLC, he consults business owners and executives who are looking to achieve faster growth by leveraging his expertise in sales and marketing, business operations, process automation and problem solving. If you are looking to increase profits and reduce stress, then schedule your complimentary business assessment consultation with Jason today.