Investing in Key Process Improvements to Reach Organizational Goals
May 22, 2014
Goal setting is an essential component of growth planning. But if you fail to include continuous improvement as an integral part of your plan, your goals might not come to fruition.
Establishing process improvements around cross training, standard work, and elimination of variations are just a few proven ways to build a more engaged workforce and a sounder enterprise.
Identify Your Most Pressing Business Needs
In order to determine where to begin, you should first pinpoint which area of the business needs the most help. Start by taking a step back and assessing what you are trying to accomplish and what could be impeding you from achieving it.
For example, suppose your goal is to grow sales. The first thing you should ask yourself is: Are our key processes for growing sales robust and efficient?
Define Key Processes for Achieving Goals
Next, define the key processes that are directly tied to accomplishing your goals. So if your goal is to grow sales, look at your current sales process.
Perhaps there’s a serious lag time between when a customer submits an RFQ (request for quote) and when you furnish them with pricing information. Maybe it takes your organization seven days on average, and customers frequently get fed up and move on to another vendor. The long lead time within your RFQ process in effect becomes a direct barrier to your goal of growing sales.
Take Steps to Improve Defined Processes
Once you have defined the key processes, focus on the steps needed to improve them. So in this sales growth scenario, one key process defined for improvement was the need for an efficient customer RFQ experience. Next, you need to determine what steps to take to improve price inquiry response time. By focusing on process improvements related to your most pressing needs, you’ll be far more likely to achieve the goals you set for your organization.
Involve a Diverse Group in the Improvement Process
Another crucial step in the improvement process is to involve and engage a broad team of stakeholders. The more people you involve, the more voices and opportunities there will be to improve the processes. Including representatives from your sales, operations, customer service and supply chain teams is a great way to gain a fresh, new perspective on how key processes impact all corners of your operation and how they can be more clearly defined. Cross-functional teams are better able to call out and develop opportunities for standard work, cross training, and the elimination of variation in workflow.
Document and Share the Knowledge
It’s also paramount that you avoid investing too much responsibility or isolated knowledge in any one person. Placing all your eggs in one basket puts you at serious risk if that person is suddenly gone– especially if your processes aren’t documented. Share the tribal knowledge and take the time to document and cross-train employees on key processes.
Get Important Feedback
Engaging an outsider as an objective sounding board and facilitator to assist in the improvement process can be very illuminating. Though not mandatory to achieving transformation, this kind of objectivity can really help some of your tenured players see the forest for the trees and bring to light some issues that those immersed in the minutiae of business processes may have missed.
CONNSTEP is a resource for small and midsized CT businesses. We understand your opportunities and challenges, and most importantly, how to make your business perform at its best. Our proven methods, years of experience, and track record of results have made us the go-to resource in process improvement.
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