Processes are supposed to make things work more efficiently. But there’s a downside to doing things the same way every time. If you’re doing it wrong, that process is ensuring you’re doing things wrong on a large scale and for a long time. And if you don’t have a good handle on what your processes are and how they work, you might not even realize there’s an issue. This is not an uncommon problem. According to the 2015 BPT Survey Report, 50% of businesses participating in the survey admitted that they only “occasionally” document their processes or keep them up to date. It’s no surprise that businesses that fail to document, adapt, and improve their processes often fall short of their growth objectives.
What’s the Impact of Poor Processes?
- Bad business processes can hurt your organization by:
- Contributing to errors or inaccuracies that require time and money to correct
- Delaying the completion of downstream tasks due to bottlenecks
- Taking up valuable labor hours with redundant activities
- Hindering the timely completion of projects
- Creating “blind spots” in your ability to monitor and improve quality
- Increasing customer dissatisfaction
- Preventing your organization from implementing best practices and new technologies
Time Can Turn a Good Process Bad
No company is perfect, and every organization has some flawed processes, but where did these poorly-designed and inefficient procedures come from? Sometimes, a process is flawed from the start because it was thrown together in a hurry without a lot of thought. Even more often, a process made sense at the time, but simply didn’t scale as the business grew or the marketplace changed. The bad news is, the longer a bad process has been in place, the more challenging it can be to change it. The good news is, it’s never too late for a positive transformation. First, you need to identify processes that are ripe for a makeover.
When Should You Suspect a Process Needs to Be Overhauled?
There are a number of warning signs that a process might need an in-depth review.
- A process is informal (not written down) or it is difficult to teach to new staff members. A well-designed process should make logical sense and not require intuition or years of on-the-job experience to perform correctly. (BPM Leader offers insights into creating good process documentation here).
- An issue is mentioned often in complaints, either directly or in online reviews. For example, customers might make negative comments about the way invoicing, service requests, product shipping time, or returns and refunds are handled.
- Everyone in your company tries to avoid being responsible for a particular task, a common sign that it is tedious and redundant. Smart employees also avoid being associated with flawed processes because whoever is put in charge of those process-related tasks ends up in trouble for making mistakes or falling behind schedule.
- There is a frequently performed task that has no associated KPIs or there is no way to track whether the process is resulting in the desired outcome. In some cases, there are processes that are necessary even though they don’t directly improve the bottom line. This is commonly the case with administrative and compliance-related processes. It’s even more imperative to make these processes more efficient, since they will always be a resource drain and a liability.
- Employees complain that they can’t do their jobs well because of frequent miscommunication or delays in getting what they need. For example, if communication for a large-scale project is done via email, this can lead to confusion with constant back and forth and email threads that are incredibly lengthy. Too much time is being spent searching for the relevant information rather than performing work.
What Can You Do to Improve Processes?
Just from reading this far, you probably already have a few processes come to mind that need to be addressed. In the next article in this series, we’ll explore the steps for improving a process. We’ll also look at the role of automation and technology in making your business processes work better.
Do you have a business process you want to start improving right now? Contact Web Revelation for more insights.