By: Amrit Morsara
Chances are you not only know that your business requires process improvement and you probably have a good idea of what you would like to change.
To ensure your organization is on the right track to improving its processes, key stakeholders need to be involved in answering the following questions prior to starting a process improvement project:
- Who are we improving for?
The only way that your process improves is if your customer notices!
A customer is any person that is paying you to provide a service or product. There needs to be alignment across the organization regarding who your customers are to ensure everyone is evaluating the processes from the customer’s standpoint. Companies often refer to “internal customers” as the next department, however, these are not people who are paying for your goods or services. When implementing process changes, you need to ask – “Is this something the customer would be willing to pay for?” If not, minimise it or get rid of it entirely!
This question may seem straight forward, but often organizations focus more on the needs and wants of their executives, managers and staff, and making the process easier for them. In fact, the fundamental objective of process improvement is to add value to the end customer.
- Why are we improving?
Most improvements are communicated to staff through quarterly reports or newsletters include subjective goals such as, converting traffic into sales, increasing sales, decreasing operational costs, and staying ahead of the competition. It has been found that only 7% of employees fully understand their company’s business goals and strategies and what’s expected of them in order to help achieve company business goals (Kaplan & Norton, 2001).
This is a missed opportunity for wait for it…….. 93% of your staff. A clear objective for the Process Improvement Project that is well communicated will help everyone understand the strategic direction of the company and where they fit within it.
- What will we measure to show the improvement?
To ensure success for your Process Improvement project you will need to determine how you will measure the improvements to determine your return on investment (ROI). Determining what to measure can be difficult, and often organizations only utilize metrics that can be easily measured or what has historically been measured. Before you begin determine what are the measurements that are critical to your customer. Before starting on a long-term project start off by developing your Key Performance Indicator’s (KPI’s) with a few select measures that are easy to collect on a frequent basis. These measures should be of high value to your customer. Remember these are the only ones that are worth improving!
In conclusion, prior to implementing process improvements, key stakeholders need to be involved with: identifying who they are improving for, why they are improving and what metrics will measure the success of the engagement. (ROI) This will ensure everyone within the organization is accountable to the changes implemented.
Stay tuned for our next article on what are KPI’s and how to develop meaningful metrics for your business.
Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, “The Strategy-Focused Organization,” Harvard Business School Press, 2001