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9 tips to resource business process improvement in overextended teams

Managing business processes is like keeping up with home maintenance. Everyone knows the importance of investing in it, but finding the time can be a challenge. Unfortunately, just like putting off a call to the plumber for that leaking tap can lead to an expensive flood, neglecting your processes can result in costly breakdowns and significant problems across the organization. That’s why it’s vital to find ways to resource time-poor teams so they can focus on business process improvement.

Lack of resourcing is one of the leading concerns for teams struggling to prioritize process management. Regardless of the industry, people are more and more strapped for time while expectations of greater efficiency and higher returns continue to grow.

This challenge creates tension for business teams, and so often activities like process improvement are viewed as optional against the day-to-day revenue-generating tasks they have. People are the heart of any organization’s process engine, though. They execute tasks and understand procedures through experience, and they’ll be the ones to work around them if they’re ineffective. That’s why it’s so important to give teams the opportunity to contribute to the business process improvement conversation through adequate resourcing.

It starts with securing the backing of the right people.

Bringing management on board

Business process improvement relies on the involvement of people from every level of your organization. That includes getting buy-in from carefully selected team members and managers and hiring on new additions to bolster your process power. Of course, this relies on the support of a leadership team that understands and believes in the importance of processes.

To engage your executives, you’ll need to create a compelling business case. Gather evidence that provides compelling facts and tangible figures that decision-makers will care about. Those numbers can help justify the importance of business process improvement roles, and back up how subtle changes in structure and practice will result in more engaged teams, reduced interruptions, and better results in key reports. Look for creative ways to carve out time for those changes and seek support for outside-the-box ideas.

9 tips to bolster a culture of process excellence

These steps can help your organization to appreciate the value of process improvement and give your leaders the confidence to invest in your process management efforts:

Creative resourcing

Employing more people isn’t always the best solution for improving your process culture. There are numerous actions you can take with your existing teams that will increase your capacity for business process improvement without adding more resources.

Set aside time

It’s a simple approach, but effective. Schedule time away from your regular to-do list to focus specifically on process improvement. It could be as little as half an hour in a day or week, but those minutes will add up when you have a network of process champions, owners, and experts contributing to the task.

Establish good habits

Including process improvement as part of staff inductions ensure people start as you mean them to continue. It embeds business process improvement in their everyday workflow and emphasizes its value. Alongside this, make sure you preserve your intellectual property by asking outgoing staff to update the processes they are responsible for, so their expertise isn’t lost when they go.

Identify your ambassadors

People who care about process improvement and excellence will want to motivate others to build momentum. Identify and celebrate them; their enthusiasm can be contagious and will go a long way towards engaging and motivating your business teams.

Mark the milestones

Good reporting is essential for tracking business process improvement but is also a great source of inspiration. Use clear improvements in key indicators to focus peoples’ efforts and demonstrate how far your organization has already come.

Involve an intern

Undergrads can provide your company with significant process mapping power while offering them insight into how the business works at every level. Assign trained staff to oversee their efforts and mentor them in continuous improvement for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Reduce the training strain

Create effective training collateral to avoid hours of repetitive preparation and delivery. Videos, online learning frameworks, and interactive tools are efficient ways to upskill teams in your process management environment without pulling key staff away from their regular duties.

Gather feedback

Set aside time for process champions to meet with people to answer questions, collect feedback, and share about the challenges and successes of your process journey so far. Collect questions on common themes to cover in larger group settings and block out the time in people’s calendars to underscore its value.

Unblock the entry

Utilize tools for process engagement that are simple to use, clear and effective. Make it easy for teams to participate and illustrate how process improvement isn’t a management exercise but a way to make their work more effective and efficient.

Empowering effective change

Initiating effective process change may require a different approach depending on your organization. You’ll need to consider who the decision-makers are, what will pique their interest, and how you will best secure their buy-in.

Regardless of the context, process improvement can be transformed from an insurmountable hurdle to an integral part of everyday business that sets your teams up for success. By painting a picture of your organization’s potential, where engaged teams and satisfied customers enjoy a capable and efficient business environment, you can motivate time-poor and apathetic teams into enthusiastic participants in a culture of process excellence.



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Thomas Kohlenbach

Thomas Kohlenbach is a senior product specialist at Nintex, the global standard for process management and automation. He has over 12 years’ experience implementing initiatives related to continuous improvement (Kaizen/Six Sigma), change management and system integration, across automotive and financial services industries. Thomas is a passionate business improvement advocate who has helped organizations around the world to decrease operational costs and drive cultural change.

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