These days, the global business industry is full of buzzwords and acronyms. It might seem as though everywhere you turn, there’s another initiative meant to bolster profits, improve productivity, and make your firm more competitive.
Many of these efforts center around a type of business improvement process or BPI. This is a wide-reaching approach that focuses on identifying inefficiencies within an organization and taking steps to improve them.
Today, we’re sharing how this process works and how it can help any company achieve the business growth they deserve.
Classifying Core Business Activities
Before you initiate any type of BPI, your first step should be to organize your business activities into a few main categories. Regardless of your industry, there are three different sectors that all of your tasks will fall into. Let’s take a look at each one in greater detail.
Operational tasks can be considered as your everyday business activities. These are the rote routines and workflows that your employees perform on a regular basis. They can range from administrative accounting functions to warehousing and logistics.
Note that these tasks apply across any business, in any sector. From professional window tinting companies to retail store operators, any team has core routines that comprise a bulk of their operations.
Management tasks are those that keep your workforce in check. These include any type of Human Resources (HR) activities, as well as budgeting initiatives, time tracking, and other corporate processes.
Supportive tasks include any type of activity that cannot be classified as either operational or managerial in nature. For example, technical support would fall into this category, as would any type of recruitment or onboarding process.
Within each of the above categories, there lies the potential for inefficiencies and inaccuracies. At any given moment, an employee could perform a mistake that sets a domino effect into motion. This is why it’s important to take a BPI-focused approach to team management.
Different Ways to Approach the Business Improvement Process
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to BPI. Rather, there are a few different strategies to choose from. Business leaders can review these strategies and select the one that makes the most sense for their team.
A few of the most common methodologies include:
- Six Sigma
- Theory of Constraints
- Lean Management
- Agile Management
- Business Process Re-engineering
- Total Quality Management
There are pros and cons of each approach, so take the time to review each one. Many business leaders prefer Six Sigma, which allows employees to rank up using levels similar to karate belts. For instance, an employee will begin at a green belt level, and eventually, work their way up to a black belt.
Six Sigma employs a functional process improvement approach called DMAIC. This stands for:
On the other hand, Kaizen principles center around lean and agile BPI methodology. This approach makes small, incremental shifts in operational tasks in an effort to improve quality, performance, and efficiency. The right strategy for your team will depend on the elements you want to improve and the changes that you want to make to get there.
The Steps of BPI
Once you’ve decided which BPI methodology you want to follow, your next step is to actually begin the improvement process. While this process will look a little different for each organization, there are a few common steps involved. Let’s review each one.
Step 1: Map Your Business Processes
You can’t reach your desired finish line if you don’t know your starting point! It’s important to begin any type of BPI by first mapping your current business processes.
As a team, map all of the workflows that your employees follow. Include all operational, managerial, and supportive tasks as outlined above.
While some business leaders prefer to draw manual flowcharts at this stage, others use advanced software designed specifically for business mapping purposes. While either approach will work, an automated solution leaves less room for user error.
Step 2: Analyze Pain Points
Once you’ve mapped your processes, work together to identify the areas where pain points exist. Where are you experiencing communication bottlenecks? Are there any steps that make teamwork nearly impossible?
If you can’t isolate those processes immediately, then start by asking a few important questions:
- Which workflows take longer than they should?
- Which factors are causing inefficiencies?
- Which activities directly influence our bottom line?
With these answers, you can better understand how your employees work and what types of issues they may be experiencing on a daily basis.
Step 3: Ensure Executive Support
Any type of BPI activity requires the direct support and buy-in of your C-suite. Unless your executives are on board and dedicated to supplying the resources you need, then it can be nearly impossible to get any type of strategy off the ground.
Present your case to the key business leaders in your organization, and explain the changes that you wish to implement. Outline the inefficiencies that your team discovered, as well as how those problem areas would impact your organization if left unresolved.
Not only do you need to win over this department, but you’ll also need to convince your employees and department managers that this should be a priority.
Step 4: Begin the BPI Strategy
With the right resources and support in place, it’s time to implement your chosen strategy. Rather than jumping in all at once, start small and make minor changes in the beginning. This way, you can test your strategy to make sure that it works, and make small-scale corrections along the way.
Over time, you can ramp up your efforts at a larger scale. As you do, you may find that you need to bring in additional resources to perform all of the required activities.
Step 5: Measure and Fine-Tune Your Approach
Once your strategy has been in place for a while, you can perform tests to analyze its effectiveness. Review your employee efforts to ensure that your desired changes are taking place. Then, monitor how those changes are impacting your organization as a whole.
Achieve the Business Improvements You Deserve
Being content with the status quo rarely leads to growth. For a business to succeed, it should be on the constant lookout for ways to improve efficiencies and team member performance.
Regardless of the specific business improvement process you choose, the important aspect is to stick with it. Take the time to educate your employees on why it’s important, and get involved in the effort yourself. Before long, you’ll resolve common pain points, boost performance, and secure a stronger competitive advantage.
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