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July 21, 2019

5 ways process improvement will benefit any business

Reading time: 6 minutes
Are you using process improvement as an integral component of your organizational approach to culture, position and marketing?
If not, now is the time to start. And not only should you be applying process mapping, but you should also be viewing process mapping as an improvement strategy in its own right. Improving, innovating, defining and executing a strong and purposeful business protocol of any measure is an effective means for gaining and sustaining competitive advantage.

Business Process Improvement | Key Benefits

Process improvement and process mapping sets the foundation for how work is completed and the insights that apply to adapt it… and by developing cutting-edge business processes, an organisation has the liberty and license to engage its employees and stakeholders alike in valuable ways. This then places the onus of responsibility for success and accountability closer to the work itself, making it truly measurable. This measurability is crucial for adaptive and lean processes that eliminate waste and allow a business to move forward.

When an organisation doesn’t take the time to access and understand employee knowledge (by listening to the problems that they face and considering how these problems might extrapolate out systematically, throughout the whole organisation or even caused by the organisational structure itself), true process mapping – and subsequently improvement – cannot occur.

Strong business processes are easy to manage, allow for ongoing success and significantly reduce employee burden and resource wastage.

Process improvement allows your business to:

1. Improve your customer experience, starting with uncovering, analysing and understanding the internal business processes that are required to align in order to deliver these improved outcomes.

Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, customer value is in the eye of the perceiver. As such, methodically studying customer desires, basic psychology and primal needs is a cornerstone to an organization developing robust yet nimble processes that will continuously address these wants and needs. If your customers are unhappy, your business soon will be too – and the very same applies to positive consumer experiences.

Continuous improvement – or Kaizen – is always impactful in the eyes of your customer. Even if they’re not directly aware of the internal measures that you may take to improve your business and the tactics that go into shaping their experience, your commitment to innovation is something that customers can feel when it’s applied strategically. This creates an authentic connection and drives the all-important brand loyalty

2. Increase efficiency throughout your business.

Efficiency dictates the degree to which a process is allowed to perform in context and direct parallel with its full potential… efficiency can literally be the difference between realising the potential of a process or having that process go to waste (or even, having that process create unnecessary bulk and bottlenecks). Increased efficiency comes only after your business is able to deliver a greater output of products and/or services in relation to the resources required for the purpose.

When you consider that some asset costs will always be high (such as highly trained staff members), the benefit of efficient processes as a non-negotiable becomes clear.

Agile marketers (and businesses in general) are successful because they can make quick decisions (without being reactive) by using data-driven trends to their advantage. They’re constantly learning how to improve their efforts and as a starting point, they desire to improve the experience of their customers. Applying lean and agile processes relies on an willingness to iterate and validate as hypothesis as you go, always informed and aimed at reducing the magnitude of failure (whilst increasing the possibility of success).

3. Improve resource productivity.

Do your assets achieve their intended purpose? Consider this question in relation to your design and marketing assets… marketing graphics or social media campaigns, for example. What was the cost (money, time, resources) to produce them vs. their usefulness and success? Many businesses miss vital opportunities to save on the costs to produce assets such as these by not effectively measuring, testing or leading first strategically from the start.

Timing must always be at the heart of this; marketing success always has a distinct rhythm. The skill is in anticipating and readily exceeding client expectations not just today, but into the future.

And unfortunately for a lot of businesses, poor timing can be their downfall – innovation and true disruption are at the mercy of timing. Being too early or too late to market can change everything. And your productivity cycle needs to carefully consider this.

4. Lessen your costs and understand the impact of cost drivers.

Do you truly understand your cost drivers? If not, improving your organisational efficacy can be an uphill battle. Costs from conversion, people (and their related overheads) and inputs can be minimised when your business functions through a strong, standard process that enables transparency and is conducive to ongoing, sustainable improvement.

With lean processes that consider Takt Time (takutotaimo), you’re closer to eliminating waste (muda) and needless marketing WIP (work in progress) and thereby, you’re more likely to reduce opportunity losses. Unfinished marketing and innovation ideas require further work just to revisit, and often, this is time and resources the business can’t afford to waste.

Wherever we see businesses with high levels of loss in the marketing WIP stages, this generally indicates a problem with flow/effectiveness which has already incurred cost just to get to that point… the lost revenue from a lack of effective implementation is often staggering.

5. Lessen your response time and understand what it takes to satisfy your customers/clients.

When you understand the business processes that deliver results and act accordingly to a happy customer, your business can then go through the process of methodically analysing every component of creating that value (and how it can then be replicated elsewhere). Considering the cycle of task-based time to total revolution time in a business, the general trend we’ll see is that the value adding time (the time best and most effectively, profitably and productively used) is less than ten percent.

By minimising the instances of non-value adding tasks by leveraging the supply and demand cycle, any business can drastically lessen their time wastage and thus, lessen their response times. With a lean running machine built for customer satisfaction, your competitive advantage is apparent to your customers.

When used in conjunction with the four basic pillars of process improvement – professional development, customer value, high quality products and/or services and customer service – any business can use the above foundational process mapping strategies to sustain powerful long-term improvement.

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