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Practical Process Improvement Guide

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Process improvement is always a hot topic in business. It’s an essential part in fact. One in which far surpasses the general idea of change.

It’s right there in the the name: process improvement is about embracing trends and new ideas. It’s about evaluating current systems and finding the areas of weakness. It’s about taking the time to rejuvenate through innovation and system integration. It’s about recognizing the need for change and then taking the necessary steps toward moving business forward fluidly, efficiently, and ultimately, successfully. The Filestage Blog outlines their views on this vital part of business in The Practical Process Improvement Guide.

According to Filestage, the field and its goals are defined in the following manner:

Process improvement refers to the effort that goes into choosing, understanding, analyzing, re-designing, implementing, and monitoring the processes you want to improve.

The goals of process improvement can be different, but the overall goals typically involve saving time or costs. In addition, improving a process can lead to increased employee satisfaction and productivity.

Filestage’s blog post emphasizes the need for implementing change in a lean approach where systems are continuously evaluated for inefficiencies and departments are working together to keep processes harmonious. According to the post:

In order to be effective, the lean approach needs to involve an organizational mindset. It requires aligning all departments and ensuring that each division is willing to regularly improve processes.

The goals of lean process improvement are:

  • minimizing waste
  • optimizing time savings on a daily basis
  • systematically improving the value provided to the customer.

Plan of Action

Process improvement isn’t just a last minute ordeal where you briefly look at systems to determine where change needs to happen. Instead, it’s very methodical. It takes in-depth knowledge and observation to determine the appropriate steps needed for efficient change. So where do you begin?

Filestage suggests having a defined, five-step plan:

  • Understanding and Mapping the Process. A great explanation of this can be read in the Essential Guide to Business Process Mapping.
  • Analyzing the Process. Once your Business Process Mapping (BPM) is complete, you have a visual that will help you identify where problems and conflicts arise.
  • Optimizing the Process. Now that problems have been identified, you can begin making adjustments. Filestage recommends utilizing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help monitor and measure implementations.
  • Implementing Process Improvement. Now that metrics for comparison have been defined and changes have been set, it’s time to put them into practice.
  • Reviewing and Monitoring the Process. It’s time to monitor how the changes are going. Remind yourself of the lean approach and recognize that not all changes are going to work perfectly. You need to watch, tweak and continue the upkeep in order to achieve improvements year after year.
Business Process Mapping

© Flickr user budcaddell.

Optimizing the Promotion Process for New Events

Filestage turned to experts in the field to provide examples of successful process improvement strategies. AccelaWork’s own Robby Slaughter, process and productivity expert, was asked to share his thoughts on optimizing the promotion process for new events. Below is his experience and advice:

Here’s our general strategy:

1. Identify something we do repeatedly
2. Break it down into smaller steps
3. Document those steps
4. Hand off the documentation to another person to try independently
5. Automate any components that are possible
6. Repeat steps 2-5 as needed

One process that goes on at our firm is promoting upcoming events. At first, this was done on an ad-hoc basis. We’d sometimes remember to put details on our website in the form of a new blog post, and other times we’d add something to our email newsletter.

Then, we decided to hand off the task to someone else. It was clear that we’d left out a bunch of details, such as ensuring that the event announcements had clear registration details, that they mentioned any sponsors, and that we had bios of the speakers.

Eventually, we moved to a dedicated site plugin for managing events. And then we realized that we could customize the plugins to have a dropdown of common event types and all of our presenters to pre-populate them with bios.

Once that worked, we got an automated tool to pull any upcoming events and place them into our email newsletter. And we also established a pattern from promoting events on Twitter.

Now, the event announcement process is almost entirely seamless. We pass along the details to the person responsible, and they take care of everything using a checklist and existing tools. And when we find something that needs improvement, we fix it!

Keeping process improvement in the forefront of your mind, no matter the position or company you are in, is incredibly vital to both the success of your job and to your satisfaction as well. To learn more about business process improvement, consider reaching out to the experts at AccelaWork.

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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