Sam Makad is a marketing consultant at Skyward ERP. He helps small and medium businesses to grow their ROI by providing innovative technology solutions.
Sometimes business processes become so complicated that instead of helping your business to grow, they act as roadblocks. In these cases, it’s very important to review the whole business process to make sure that each aspect of the process is well structured and there is no wastage of resources in terms of time, manpower or cost.
What you need is a pyramid approach: starting at the foundational problems and moving upwards. One thing to note here is that as you narrow down while going upwards, the area of concern will decrease while the intensity will increase at the same time. In short, as you move ahead, your approach needs to become more effective.
Here are four ultimate ways to improve your business processes.
1. Set a standard process audit
In any organization, there are standard processes instated to streamline the respective tasks of each department.
At times, however, the same processes become so massive that they do more harm your business than they do good. So, if you think that you are not able to deliver positive results or meet your targets, despite being supported by sufficient resources, you may seriously need to review the working process of your business.
A process audit aims at closely identifying the present concerns related to your business processes. The audit also provides a comprehensive report on the possible risks or loopholes found in your current processes.
The audit report helps you to identify the areas that need improvement. It also helps you to map the complete roadmap for improvement.
2. Conduct a 360-degree analysis
A “360-degree analysis” is not just a buzzword. It’s a multi-aspect approach that gives equal amounts of attention to various aspects of a particular process, to discover specific problems that need to be addressed immediately.
The six steps to a 360-degree analysis are:
- Number of steps in a particular process
- Time taken by each individual step of the process
- Most problematic steps of the process
- Most time-consuming steps of the process
- Specific departments that are involved in the process
- Impact of different steps on overall cost and quality of the process
This approach helps you to zero-in the specific pain points of a process and develop a more focused roadmap to solve them.
3. Define a communication hierarchy
Once you identify the issues that affect overall productivity, you now need to communicate these issues to the associated department. But you need to approach this task strategically and carefully. Here you would need to use the “needle approach,” to coin a new term. It simply means minimum area and maximum intensity. So instead of communicating directly with the whole department, you need to communicate with only the key people, generally department managers.
In order to change a process that may have been in place for a long time, you need some real, strong points to convince the management. People are often averse to change. Keep these three strategies in mind:
It’s just a minor change in a few steps
You need to tell the management that you are not completely changing the process. You are just fixing the main pain points. Use a tone that does not suggest a revolutionary change.
Involve the team
You need to show the management team that you want to involve them in re-designing the process. It will show them their importance and will encourage them to take ownership and responsibility for improving the current process.
Don’t force a change
It is recommendable not to force change. Being in charge of a particular department, the top management is in a better position to conceptualize the change and naturally convince their team to practice the same.
Sometimes, the biggest of problems are solvable by a simple flow of information between the different divisions of an organization. This is where an ERP system can come to your rescue.
4. Automate the most tedious steps
In most cases, tedious or repetitive tasks are the main roadblocks of any process. Repetitive tasks not only affect creativity and performance but also eat at a major chunk of the employees’ time. Likewise, tedious tasks affect the quality of an overall process.
Luckily, there is software available to automatically perform these tasks. An ERP software can not only reduce the time taken to complete these tasks, but also increases productivity. You can also automate a considerable chunk of the sales operations by using software for marketing automation. For most of your repetitive process automation, a customized CRM can do the trick.
Business processes play a major part in the overall quality and effectiveness of operations. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, your business will still perform below expectations. Here you need to evaluate your processes and identify the problems hindering each step. Once you do, recalibrate and use a multi-aspect approach to fix those problems and get your business running smoothly.