Process improvement initiatives can be a game-changer for any organisation. Organisations that are constantly seeking ways to improve their processes are better equipped to adapt to changing market conditions and stay ahead of the competition. However, not all improvement initiatives live up to their promise. Many process improvement initiatives start with a big bang, but the initial momentum fizzles out along the way.
Process improvement is not just a one-off project. It requires continued efforts to achieve sustainable success and results. That said, many organisations find it challenging to sustain the momentum primarily due to: Teams getting caught up in BAUs, and leadership teams not allocating resources or giving enough time.
Here are some signs that suggest your process improvement efforts may be losing momentum:
- No tangible results
- Lack of leader support
- Lack of enthusiasm from the team
- Resistance to Change
- Ad hoc improvements without alignment with any organisational goals or strategy
Key Elements for Achieving Sustainability
So, how can you ensure your process improvement plan will continue its momentum over the period of say, five years? How can you ensure you are on the road to long-term sustainable process improvement?
Let’s look at six key elements that lay the foundation of a sustainable process improvement initiative:
1.Standards and Rules: Consistent and easy-to-understand process documentation is at the heart of a sustainable process improvement initiative. Standardised process maps across the business units help any team member to understand, follow and identify incremental improvement opportunities. Hence, you must define common process mapping rules, symbols and terminologies that should be used for the organisation-wide projects. Choosing a worldwide accepted mapping notation, such as BPMN and determining the right standards and level of detail to be captured in process maps ensure quality outcomes from process analysis. Apart from establishing process mapping standards and rules, it is equally important to ensure these are followed.
2. Dedicated team with the required skillset: Expecting your SMEs to carry out process improvement along with their BAUs will not do the trick. You must assemble a dedicated team responsible for process improvement with set KPIs and short-term and long-term success metrics to constantly assess the project’s progress. It is also vital for the team to have the appropriate skill set. Make sure you have a combination of project management, analytical, process modelling, change management, technology and financial skills in your team to get the desired output.
3. Data-based decision-making: Data-driven decision-making ensures that the team makes informed decisions based on facts and evidence rather than assumptions or opinions. By collecting and analysing data, the team can identify areas for improvement, measure progress towards the goals, and identify the impact of the changes made. These insights prove helpful in showcasing the result of process improvement and keep the team’s interest going.
4.Stakeholder engagement: Identifying and engaging the right process stakeholders is key to deciding whether your process initiative will fail or scale. The involvement of frontline staff is a must. Since the frontline staff executes the process, they understand the flaws and improvement opportunities within the processes more than any dedicated process mapping and improvement team. Engaging them in the improvement project will ensure they feel involved and reduce resistance to change.
5.Appropriate Toolset: With hundreds of business processes to be managed in an organisation, a toolset is crucial to keeping the process improvement on track. Empowering the teams with a right-fit tool is the only way to ensure different business units are on the same page and mapping, analysing and improving consistently. Since there is no one-size-fits-all tool, assessing your organisational requirements and matching them with tool capabilities is important. However, some capabilities are a must-have. One of them is an in-built methodology to drive end-to-end improvement. Also, a tool embedded with worldwide accepted standards for mapping, analysis and improvement helps create standardised process documentation.
6.Collaborative efforts towards defined goals: Inconsistent and misaligned improvement efforts across different business areas do not yield expected results. There needs to be clarity regarding organisational and strategic objectives with improvement projects to keep the efforts aligned. It is important to make sure that the team identifies improvement areas and suggests changes in the current process in real-time to ensure everyone remains on the same page. A central repository of all process maps, which can be accessed anytime, anywhere ensures the latest process maps are available to team members.
Ensuring Sustainable Business Process Improvement
Check your existing process improvement plan in line with these six elements to identify gaps. Determining the appropriate toolset is essential in laying the foundation for sustainable process improvement.
One tool that is designed to drive sustainable process improvement is PRIME BPM, which comes with an inbuilt methodology combining the power of disciplines—Lean, Six Sigma and BPM. It helps you quickly and easily map, analyse, improve and monitor your business processes.
PRIME BPM comes with many functionalities to drive collaborative improvement and bring in process transparency. Some key ones include in-built methodology and BPMN 2.0 for standardised process documentation, the RACI matrix for defining roles and responsibilities, and process approval, to name a few.
PRIME BPM has helped many leading organisations on their process improvement journey. Check out some success stories.
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