“Efficiency is doing things right; Effectiveness is doing the right things.”
As businesses evolve and get busier doing what it is they are great and renowned for, inevitably bottle necks and sticking points will develop. This is true whether you manufacture, assemble or just deliver services. If you don’t embed and secure your processes, as your business grows, the quality of what you make and your customer service levels will likely drop.
Recognising these issues from poor processes?
A consequence is customer complaints and queries will rise. Employees will be frantically rushing around trying to sort out problems, making them unhappier and less effective and less productive. The chances are, as a business owner or general manager, you are at your wits end trying to determine what you should do first. Along with being frustrated in never having the time to develop your ideas, implementing your strategy and hence taking your business forward.
However, this is a common phenomenon in small and medium sized enterprises. It’s one of the root causes in stopping SME’s breaking through to become larger and more sustainable organisations.
How do I make improvements to my business processes?
Business process improvement and particularly generating a culture of continual improvement is key for businesses today to survive. You are in an ever-developing competitive market and likely to operate in a challenging, constant changing economic environment too.
One solution would be to consider engaging with a business improvement consultant. These experienced professionals will walk through your processes, whether you make widgets or how you engage with customers in your retail store. Having someone look over the business, particularly with fresh eyes and mapping out your processes will often highlight some obvious to them but latent problems to you.
You’ve heard the term, “can’t see the wood for the tree’s” which is a common trait in a busy business.
Often the bottle necks and sticking points in your processes can be fixed quickly and it’s best practice to involve your team. They are the guys on the ground and front line and often will have noticed but not felt they have the authority to implement any changes. Therefore, one outcome you may decide on, is to enrol one of your employees as a project manager focused on process improvement.
What are the potential remedies?
Options which you may decide to introduce to improve processes may include utilising technology, automation, IT software, reducing duplication in tasks, staff training, reconfiguring the layout and work flow, i.e. ergonomics and obtaining better control and visibility of stock ordering. Often just improving communication and cascading decision making down to your team can make a substantial improvement to business productivity.
As an experienced business improvement consultant, I often ask business owners when we first meet, “explain all the challenges, issues you have in your business”. Often it is issues like these that crop up in these conversations:
- We are very busy,
- Behind on deliveries,
- Staff are working extra hours,
- We’ve had some quality issues, and rework to complete,
- Cash flow tends to be tight
- And customers and supplier are never off the phone chasing us.
Cause and Effect
Utilising a cause and effect model process, such as the fishbone diagram or Ishikawa Diagram above, a consultant will often be able to determine the root cause of your issues. From there we can start developing a business process improvement plan even during the first meeting.
Process Improvement Models
If you are predominantly a manufacture, many solutions can be discovered and solutions found through using process mapping models. Many models were originally developed in Japan by the likes of Motorola, Toyota and Honda. Such as Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen, Total Quality Management (TQM), creating Kanban’s, Just in Time (JIT), Agile Management and Process Re-engineering techniques.
Often the process of reviewing and walking through your operations can actually create new ideas on how you can develop new services and products for your customers too.
Taking that first step to introduce process change
Henry Ford famously said “Don’t find fault, find a remedy”
If your business is being held back through poor process flows and process management, do reach out. There are specialist business process improvement consultants available across Cumbria and the North West and many will offer an initial consultation free of charge.
Should you wish to know more about how we can support you and your business to be become better at what you do, be that:
- improving productivity,
- increasing margins,
- improving customer or employee satisfaction
- creating sustainability for the future,
...please do just get in touch.
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Please note that should you decide to restructure your business you will require additional support.
We can assist through bringing in associates such as:
Organisational Development Specialists
Accounts and Finance Advisers
Digital Transformation Specialists who can introduce technology to improve efficiency in operations, customer, and consumer interaction online and service levels
Covid19 impact and business downturn
Is your business in terminal decline? Is your market not likely to recover in the short to medium term? In this situation it is worth considering professional advice from a Business Insolvency Practitioner. We are more than happy to act on your behalf, should this be a difficult, challenging situation and period for you and your family