Process excellence isn’t a destination for successful businesses, or even a journey. Think of it as a vehicle for continuous improvement – one that you can steer toward greater customer value a stronger bottom line.
There are plenty of components within process excellence, all of them involving efficiency and effectiveness. Process excellence helps remove roadblocks and accelerate results across the organization to achieve the best outcomes at the lowest cost.
But getting there requires commitment and focus on several key elements:
Standardize processes excellence
When process information is scattered, it becomes splintered. For every process mapped or captured, variations typically evolve after the procedure manual was distributed. Best practices may be ignored or circumvented; improvements may emerge but remain hidden in one team.
Gathering and recording process information in an accessible central source of truth ensures not only that vital process knowledge is captured, but that it’s organized and available to everyone who might need it.
When processes are standardized, everyone knows the right way to complete a task. And when process improvements are adopted, they can quickly be rolled out to all affected business groups.
Investment firm ClearView discovered this when they committed to managing their processes in a single source of truth. ClearView manages more than $6.9 billion in funds and has been a trusted Australian name in investment and insurance for over 40 years. A mix of long-term staff and new arrivals meant processes and procedures were far from standardized.
Matthew Ream, a successful Business Process Analyst at ClearView, recognized the problem. “Some of our processes had changed, however, those changes were not reflected in the context of the larger organization. We knew we had some inconsistencies in place and needed to find a way to overcome this and provide a standard approach to our process management.”
Using an effective process platform, ClearView centralized their process library in a way that gave business teams visibility and access, ensuring that everyone could access a single source of truth.
The sheer variety of processes was reduced, and procedures were refined as everyone worked from the same set of protocols.
See the savings
Poor processes can cause costly errors as well as wasted time and resources. Where processes involve regulations or legislative compliance, failure to follow protocol can result in costly legal liability. Costs and risks grow when processes haven’t been effectively captured.
Similarly, the potential for increased productivity can be hidden in plain sight. By mapping what happens at each stage of the business cycle, inefficiencies are exposed as opportunities for growth. Methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma, coupled with a powerful process platform, produce tangible results that can be built into better successful business practices.
Clearly capturing and communicating your processes also exposes needless manual steps that can hinder efficiency. Process automation reduces both the potential for errors and the time spent on ‘swivel chair’ tasks. It’s a powerful tool but it can’t be used effectively until the processes are clearly understood.
Engage the whole team
Processes themselves are only half the story. The best collection of procedures and process maps won’t help if the people that execute them never bother to look at them. These are the people that know the processes best, and they need to participate in capturing, managing and optimizing them.
This is a facet of good process governance – it introduces accountability not just for good execution but enables regular reviews and conversations around improvement. Process owners need to know when suggestions are made, and have avenues to discuss those ideas, then implement effective changes as they emerge. The business teams that execute the processes every day need feedback tools that are both transparent and effective.
Inviting line-of-business staff into the conversation lets the organization leverage everyone’s process knowledge.
When construction firm JE Dunn implemented a continuous improvement program they saw nearly a five-fold increase in process excellence improvement suggestions – ideas and efficiencies that would have remained on the worksite or desktop without an effective tool for successful business process management.
These ideas and capabilities all come together in a culture of continuous improvement.
It’s not enough to capture your processes. Processes must evolve with the changing business landscape, grow as you scale, and shift to address the opportunities you encounter.
Identifying cost savings and new efficiencies is only helpful if you capitalize on them by developing an agile environment where change is both possible and embraced. Similarly, getting ownership and input from line-of-business teams benefits the business most when you commit to valuing those contributions and building the best ideas into the fabric of your processes.
Continuous process improvement is just that – continuous. The moment process management is relegated to static documents or printed manuals, it loses the power to adapt and engage the wider organization. It becomes a moment-in-time image rather than a dynamic tool for maximizing customer value and business effectiveness.
Global appliance manufacturer Rinnai recognized the importance of maintaining momentum with process excellence. They adopted a dedicated operational platform to emphasize continuous improvement throughout the organization.
From executive management to the factory floor, their people keep process in the forefront.
“We’re all using the same information,” says Kevin Sherlock, Quality Assurance Manager at Rinnai. “It’s had a real impact on the business. The board has got better info, so they’re asking better questions.”
Most of all, they recognize the importance of not becoming mired in the status quo. “The Japanese culture says we’ve got to keep improving because our competitors are. If we sit back, we won’t be the company we are in ten years.”
The process excellence momentum
A culture of process excellence shifts an organization from what it is to what it could be. It doesn’t take just one step, though. It builds momentum toward a continuously improving customer experience.
Process excellence is an evolution that continues to develop better service, greater satisfaction, and increased sales, and brings the entire organization along on the journey.
Establish total visibility, gain control, drive operational efficiencies, and identify automation opportunities by planning, mapping, and managing your enterprise-wide business processes with Nintex Promapp. Watch the demo on-demand