5 Analytical Approaches for Business Improvement

July 9, 2018

Successful businesses aim to adapt to an ever-changing competitive environment. Business improvement initiatives are needed to be performed to deliver excellent results without spending too many resources.  These initiatives should be carefully planned with well-documented information to address certain issues.  It is understood that the correct analysis of the given data is key to executing a successful business improvement plan. However, after a study of numerous Business Improvement Initiatives we found that analysis of the presented information is a real struggle for several Business Improvement teams.

This blog will provide business process improvement teams with a list of important analytical approaches that can aid in capitalizing every possible business process improvement opportunities.

1.) ANALYSING PROCESS OUTCOMES

A process is structured to deliver outcomes may it be a final product/service or a leading way to another process. Evaluating and analysing process outcomes tests how effective a process is to produce a change to the whole system. Business process improvement teams should make sure that the current processes are still relevant to delivering an outcome. There are three ways to improve a process by its outcomes:

Eliminate an outcome. The process improvement by elimination begins by asking a basic question “rather than improving the process to create an outcome more efficiently, is there a way to effectively eliminate the whole outcome instead?” We check if the outcome is really necessary, have always been necessary, and if this outcome is someday no longer important. In this way, we can evaluate the risks of eliminating an outcome and the possible results once eliminated. An example of an eliminated outcome is the airline tickets which are now changed to an itinerary and a boarding pass upon check-in.

Substitute an outcome. If it is realized that the outcome cannot be eliminated then we check if can it at least be substituted with something more effective and efficient. A simple situation, for example, is in today’s information age, reports are being done and distributed with comprehensive information that is sometimes irrelevant for people. A further evaluation of whether this comprehensive outcome is actually needed or not and if it results to the latter,  then maybe the report can be substituted with a simple summary.

Digitalisation of an outcome. In this digital world, everything can be accessible in a click or touch. If we take on the airplane ticket and report summary examples above, both can be accessed through technology and in this way, outcomes are processed more efficiently and effectively.

2.) STANDARDISATION

Standardisation is making something conform to a standard. Standards can be applied to processes, documents or systems. Standardisation can be a business process improvement opportunity for companies with disorganised systems which therefore creates confusion in execution and makes a bigger room for mistakes. With a standardised format in the documents or in the operating processes, there is operational efficiency with minimal deviations given the ability to scale through an organisation’s the set of standards.

3.) FLOW REDIRECTION

Flow redirection requires an Analyst to review the process and the people involved. The number of handoff points between the acting roles in the whole process is the business improvement opportunity. Analysts can review and evaluate if the handoff points are necessary and if it can be minimised by redirecting the flow of the process.

4.) AUTOMATION OF ACTIVITIES

Automation of activities within the process is closely related to digitalisation. Automation is the transformation of business operations by replacing manual and paper-based processes with digital workflows. The digital workflow can be human-centric or system-centric.

Human-centric workflows focus on supporting the human tasks and activities in processes by automating functions. There are activities that can only be performed by humans such as reviewing reports, creating proposals, evaluating, approving and authorizing. The exhaustion of these activities can be minimised by automation of some tasks within the process. An example would be if a leave request is received by a team leader and there is no action taken of whether the request is approved or rejected within the predefined time, the request will automatically be redirected to the next authorized approving person.

System-centric workflows focus on automating the route of activities between systems, humans and other systems. An online loan application is one example wherein a system does the first assessment of the application form submitted. It evaluates whether the complete and correct requirements are received. If it is, the application will then be forwarded to the approving person and if not, the system will return the application to the sender until it is completed.  This evaluation lessens the effort made by human and therefore increases operational efficiency.

5.) ASSIGNMENT OF RESOURCES

Process improvement aims for more efficient process execution. With the right assignment of resources, a person’s activity and the whole system’s process can be done efficiently. An example would be a Human Resource Director who creates a shortlist of applicants and going through them for hours every week can save time and effort if he/she assigns this task to someone who is capable with a junior position.

These are only some of the many approaches to improve business processes within your organisation. It is important that before executing any of these, risks and costs are properly calculated to avoid failures and instead get excellent results from the improvement initiatives.

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