Why is Process Improvement so Important?
Most businesses have old processes that have stayed the same for quite a while. No wonder when you ask why this process, they always respond with, “We’ve always done it this way.”
In the past, the business had the best processes. Unfortunately, times change and so do processes. Nowadays, it would help if you adapted to everything: new metrics, new machines, labor requirements, and new software.
If you have not changed your processes lately, they are muddled and inefficient. Most businesses will see it once it is lagging in their industry, their employees have low morale, and customers are frustrated by delays or mediocre quality. I am not saying the business is doomed to fail, but it is not on the right path to success and growth.
Businesses need to constantly change to the actual requirements. They must be competitive in their industry for the benefit of the company, employees, and customers. The best way is to ensure significant improvement in your processes. Businesses can always do better.
How can they do better? With process improvement. Process improvement is a service that identifies, analyzes, and improves existing business processes. The main purpose of process improvement is to improve performance, quality, and waste reduction. It can pinpoint the challenges in your processes.
Process improvement has many methodologies, such as Kaizen, PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act), TQM, 5S, Six Sigma, and more. A good project manager will pick the appropriate methodology based on the specific project.
Let me give you an example of a project that required process improvement.
The company in this example was a sales organization that utilized online sales, in-person sales, and call center sales. Their strength was speed. If you placed an order by 5 pm, you would receive it within 48 hours.
The corporate office and most of their sales offices were in and around Baltimore, Maryland. One day, the director of Customer Service came out of a meeting with his VP of Sales and the CEO. Both were wondering why sales were down, unable to pinpoint the issue.
I was tasked as the project manager to see how we could improve sales. The company sold mostly to businesses, but also to consumers. The sales team did an excellent job and the marketing department had a good advertising program. So, I directed my focus to the call center.
As an experienced project manager, I knew to work on process maps first. I wanted to know the step-by-step process. I also checked the complaint department to get the voice of the customers (VOC), and this is where I found the pain point.
Some customers were unhappy when they called because the call center was closed, forcing them to call back the next day. This was adding a day to the 48-hour delivery guarantee.
The call center was open from 7 am to 5 pm, EST. This gave a 10-hour window to place orders, but not for states in Mountain and Pacific time zones. When they looked at their orders at the end of the day, making the 5 pm, EST cutoff was impossible. Because of the time difference they called the local retailer, even if the price was slightly higher, so they could get the product on time.
The sales issues were the time difference and the call center availability. Easy to fix. I recommended staggering the employees at the call center and keeping it open from 7 am to 8 pm. This simple solution increased sales and reduced complaints.
Process improvement is a fantastic way for businesses to stay competitive in their industry, increase performance, and improve customer satisfaction. By analyzing existing processes and pinpointing the pain points, businesses can make improvements that have a positive impact on the company, employees, and customers. In the example given above, making a few simple changes made all the difference in improving sales and customer satisfaction. With process improvement, businesses can ensure they are on the path to success and growth.
To begin your Process Improvement, MSSBTA can help you set guidelines, determine what needs improvement, and how to measure success and sustain it.