Where are the best process improvements ideas?
Learn to manage yourself efficiently and effectively, because you’ll become better positioned to help customers and people on your team so they can manage themselves better, with the process improvements. One big challenge is that it is hard to articulate what constitutes an opportunity for generating gains from process improvements new to the world.
Usually, there are some ‘low-hanging-fruit ideas’ people jump on right away. However, once those are cleared away, it can be difficult to spot flaws in other processes, especially ones that you operate every day because have become the ‘norm’.
An excellent remedy for this problem is giving employees categories of improvement possibilities to consider. By providing a few examples, and some questions to ask, you can spark ideas and get people thinking innovatively.
Nobody or no organisation is perfect. It would help if you always looked for ways to improve. Starting today, invite employees and others to join you so they have a hand in co-creating the outcomes you are seeking. This checklist will help you have the tough conversations around process improvements and bring the needed change to your team and organisation.
Identify process improvement opportunities
In correcting any problems start by identifying the processes in your business which can be more productive and efficient. A challenge with identifying opportunities for process improvements is to define the right scope for the current process. You don’t always need to describe the entire process to get started. You can start measuring to determine time or cost savings.
Process improvements start with having a firm foundation of all parts of the organisation, and understanding what makes the organisation work. What most organisations do is baseline their existing process, then make improvements incrementally over time and measure as they go.
Customer satisfaction must rank highly in process improvements
People who would know how best to improve customer satisfaction are the people who interact with customers most often. Sadly, these employees and volunteers are often considered to low on the organisation chart to ask for ideas.
- Improve handling of incoming customer inquiries
- Improved service delivery and support
- Your employees know what drives your customers nuts. It pays to ask them.
- A structured approach to handling complaints
- Customer satisfaction surveys
Cash flow improvements
If cash flow negligence was a crime, would there be enough evidence to have you convicted beyond doubt? Most people often suffer from an inevitable human tendency to focus on the cash flow ‘problem’, not the ‘causes’.
- Improve budgeting processes
- Improve debtors collections
- Don’t spend money without reference to the cash flow budget
- Devise formulas for calculating cost savings
- Sell of obsolete inventory and equipment
Cost savings lead to process improvements
Keeping costs down is often seen as the responsibility of those in charge of finances. However, you can reduce waste and make savings more easily when employees are involved in the process.
- Determine the costs of the effort and calculate ROI
- Eliminate inadequate and wasteful processes
- Buying too much of a perishable item
- Creating paper records or forms when electronic ones would suffice
- Poor use of structures and frameworks
- Storing obsolete inventory and equipment
- Make use of, or eliminate wasted spaces
These might not be the exact cost-related issues facing your organisation, but they may trigger ideas from your team on how to cut the waste.
Revenue increases with process improvements
If you are a manager, an advisor, or a health practitioner in business for yourself, then you know the value of connections. It’s where business happens. We meet clients, we connect, and we grow our networks as a lead up to increasing revenues.
It may seem strange to ask for ideas for increasing revenue from people who aren’t in sales or product development, but our clients have found that great ideas for increasing sales can come from anyone. We’ve seen companies add to the top line by:
- Repackaging products and services to meet customer needs
- Improve content marketing
- Finding new customers or new markets
- Introducing new ways of servicing existing customers
- Engage with networks and clusters
You might be surprised about the way’s people in customer support, accounting, or any other customer-facing role would suggest bumping up revenue. The ROI of Continuous Improvement
Time-saving is a net result of process improvements
The key to increasing available time is by reducing the amount of time it takes a person to complete a task as compared to achieving the same results using the current approach.
Process improvements contribute time-saving as well as cost savings when better-articulated, well-documented and with more access to tools..
- Personal fitness is the key to finding process improvements
- Make more use of tools and checklists
- Quality of meetings
- More effective governance
- Caseloads and portfolio management
Efficiency from process improvements
The lean approach to management centres on ability and capacity. When you talk to employees, the thing which they say drives them nuts the most is inefficiency and waste. People hate wasting time and resources which they could put to better use.
- Ensure equipment and supplies are available and conveniently located
- Eliminate duplication of work
- Utilise state-of-the-art tools
- Develop the organisation’s Knowledge Base
- Remove unnecessary layers of approval
- Making sure every meeting is necessary and effective
- Implement appropriate flowcharts and checklists
Business process improvement is critical for success, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Some changes will involve a significant project, but many can be accomplished quickly with small actions. With the right process improvement software (metrics and dashboards) in place, your team will be offering improvement ideas in no time.
Health and well-being bring about process improvements
When did you last brake out in a ‘cold sweat’, terrified you missed doing something critical in your business? Your experience, your feelings, your outcomes are real, but the last thing everyone needs is to have them impacting negatively on your health and well-being.
- Ear well and improve your exercise program
- Sleep deprivation can make it harder to work
- Treat your weekend like a vacation
- If you are working more than 50 hours a week look for process improvements
- Stressed at work? Mentoring programs could uncover process improvements
Just because a process has not been a glaring problem does not mean it can’t be improved. The need for development will often be performance-driven, but it might also be innovation-driven or impact-driven.
Technology gives us a way to think more broadly allowing us to identify opportunities in process improvements as well as problems to be solved. We are good at identifying weaknesses and circumstances which threaten process performance, but we need to look for other aspects. Technology can make a process stronger or offer opportunities to do something new.
- Make better use of cloud
- Use digital technologies to improve customer services
- What new software applications would make a difference
- Make use of AI, Big Data, Robotics, 3D printing and a CRM system
- Improve communications with customers, employees, volunteers, partnerships and suppliers
Every organisation should be concerned about the safety of its workers, volunteers and visitors. It is one area where employees can be very effective at suggesting and implementing improvements.
- Better training programs
- Workplace Health and Safety programs
- Hazards reporting is critical
- Reduce the need for overworked employees; it’s counter-productive
Nothing is worse for profitability than product and services defects or errors, as they waste materials and time as well as risk upset customers. It’s why quality problems are usually the first to get targeted for improvement. Some issues are apparent, but others take a little more effort so as to uncover them.
- Track customer complaints or reasons for product return
- Use control charts to track the number of defects to find common causes
- Find the root causes of a process’s weakness
- Calculate the financial impact of vulnerabilities
- Seek the help of employees and advisors
When asking for quality improvement ideas, remember it isn’t just products and services which can have errors therefore, do a scan. Keeping internal processes and documentation free from defect. Your staff probably has some thoughts on that as well.
Laws of business lead you to success.
Our Universe operates under a set of laws where success is just as inevitable, as gravity governs them both.
You didn’t have to become an expert to make gravity work for you. And you certainly don’t have to be an expert for the laws of success to work for you. However, you therefore, have to know how to put them into action.
What do you need to know to be successful in business?
- Sharing something creates more of it
- Information overload is the enemy of insight
- Nobody’s perfect, and neither is any business
- Real success is always dependent on the support of many others
- What goes around comes around
- Anger is an expression of helplessness
- Marketing isn’t all about you
- Best and worst-case scenarios rarely happen
- There is little someone cannot make a little worse
- Just as there is nothing you can’t sell a little cheaper
- Every action creates an opposite and equal reaction
- Never expect to pay a little and get a lot.
Probably one of the hardest things about success is that you have to keep on being a success, and this requires continuous process improvements.
“Help others achieve their dreams, and they will help you achieve yours”. Les Brown
“When the headlights aren’t on, the best rear-view mirror available isn’t likely to improve your driving”. Don Peppers