It goes without saying that we are living and working in unprecedented times. COVID-19 has had different implications to different people – while for some it has meant going into overdrive navigating one challenge to another, for others it has caused an immediate period of downtime. This blog will guide business and gives insight on how to achieve Operational Excellence.
If you have extra time up your sleeve, you are no doubt asking yourself what’s the best way to use it? What can I do now that will have the biggest impact on my team as we strive for business continuity now and in the future?
When considering your options, Operational Excellence (OPEX) should make the top of your list. Spending some time today thinking about, managing, optimizing, and automating your processes will mean that when the normal pace of business resumes, you’ll be able to deliver better, more predictable results, faster and with fewer resources.
The question then becomes – how to achieve Operational Excellence and where to get started? Below are six tips that are designed to help you embark on your journey towards operational excellence.
6 Tips to understand how to achieve Operational Excellence
1. Seek guidance
It’s important that you don’t just go off and do your own thing. Your organization likely has its own OPEX framework that is owned by a Center of Excellence (CoE). This framework will help you answer certain questions such as:
- What role do you play in the OPEX program?
- Process creation standards – what constitutes a good process?
- Who needs to approve a new or changed process before it goes live to the business?
- How automation is used to improve processes and who is responsible for building workflows and bots?
So, before you start, reach out to your CoE and find out how they would like you to get involved.
2. Scope your processes
Before you can start mapping (let alone improving or automating) your processes, you need to know what your processes are.
Some of the questions you need to answer are:
- What processes are in my process group?
- What is the title and objective of the process?
- Who is the audience of the process?
- What are the Triggers, Inputs, and Outputs of the process?
- Who is responsible for mapping the process, in a tool like Nintex Promapp®? (Process Expert)
- Who is ultimately responsible for the process (Process Owner)
- What stakeholders need to be involved when mapping the process?
3. Start mapping!
While you might be tempted to jump right into Nintex Promapp and start creating your processes, hold off (for now). Start by gathering your stakeholders in a room (or in video meeting) and workshop the process.
During this workshop, identify and agree what the as-is process looks like. Once you have agreement, the Process Expert should create the process in Nintex Promapp and then share it (via minimode) with all of the stakeholders for feedback.
Once everyone is happy with the process, it can be submitted for approval in order for it to be published and go live to the business.
Even if all you do is complete this stage, you’ll find significant improvements to your day-to-day lives. As soon as the process is published, all of the process participants will receive a notification which will help ensure that everyone is performing the process in the same way (standardization).
Additionally, whenever you get new starters, rather than having to pair them up with a buddy to explain how their job is done, you’ll be able to point them to the Nintex Promapp process and allow them to self-learn from a single point of truth.
4. Fine-tune your processes
Now that you know what your as-is process is, it’s time to start thinking about how it can be improved. While process improvement can sound intimidating, the reality is you don’t need to be a lean six sigma black belt to make a difference. At its core, continuous improvement involves looking at your processes and making lots of small, incremental changes that add up to meaningful improvements.
When fine-tuning your processes, focus on changes that are:
- Incremental (as appose to radical)
- Within your own responsibility (i.e. the change doesn’t require sign off beyond perhaps your immediate manager)
- Fast, visible, and reversible (if the change backfires, the cost should be no more than half a day of your time)
By picking these low hanging fruit you will often solve 80% of your problems.
5. Transform your processes
Once you have fine-tuned your processes, you might find that there are improvements that can still be made.
Getting your process to the next level will often require you to start looking at some level of automation; this could be as simple as introducing a bot to perform some of the repeatable tasks in the process, or could involve workflow automation software with the aim on bringing end to end automation.
The first step towards automation is for you to identify what remaining parts of the process you think can be improved. This could involve assessing your process using an improvements methodology (such as the eight wastes) and performing a root cause analysis (such as the five whys), or simply just looking at your process and tagging the #OFIs (opportunities for improvement).
From here, again it’s time to reach out to your Center of Excellence who will be able to discuss how automation can solve some of your remaining challenges and build the bots and workflows needed to take you process to the next level.
6. Do it all over again
Congratulations – you’ve successfully improved the way that you do business by learning how to achieve Operational Excellence! While a pat on the back (or virtual high five) is well deserved, there’s no time to rest. OPEX is not a one-time project – rather, it’s a never-ending way of doing business.
Given the speed at which the world changes (as highlighted by COVID-19) your process is virtually out of date the minute you publish it. As a result, it’s important to continue making sure that all of your processes have been mapped in Nintex Promapp (there will always be a process that you have forgotten or not thought about), as well as reviewing your existing processes and asking yourself – how can this be improved?
At Nintex, we’re here to help. Please visit the Nintex Process Accelerator Gallery, which is our growing library of process mapping, workflow automation, robotic process automation software, and connector templates that you download for free put to work immediately.
We’ve also made our instructor-led training classes through April 30, 2020, available at no cost for current customers and partners. Learn how to sign up for free courses by reading a recent customer success resource blog from our Chief Customer Officer Josh Waldo.
Interested in starting your journey to Operational Excellence? Request a free Nintex Promapp trial today.