Business Growth & Strategy

Take Care When Performing Business Process Optimization

Business StrategyWhen times get tough, businesses have to run leaner and more efficiently in order to survive. The same truism applies where tough times get even tougher. We have seen plenty of rough economic waters recently, and there is evidence mounting that we are about to see more. The latest news on the economy came from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week, when he indicated that the economic recovery “is close to faltering.”  That means it is time for businesses to batten down the hatches even tighter and be ready to run even more efficiently than before – all without sacrificing on their value proposition.

Making the Case For Business Process Optimization

Taking a hard look at the operational workings of our business makes sense any time, but this is especially true in such times of uncertainty. Cost cutting cannot come from reductions in staff alone, nor can it chip away at the value you offer your customers. Business process optimization is about improving the essential processes your organization relies upon to deliver value in the marketplace – making your business a more efficient, competitive and profitable operation.

When thinking about improving business processes it’s easy to want to attack the problem by micro-examination of individual processes. A better approach is to look at the broader view to support a solid understanding of the organization and the issues that could be affecting performance. Without this understanding, successful implementation of a new model may be misdirected and focus singularly on the symptoms rather than root cause. Likewise, actions taken that optimize process to the detriment of the firm’s value delivered to the marketplace will subvert the improvement efforts and obfuscate employees and customers when they try to understand the rational behind the changes in the first place.

You can see it now: managers sitting in a room around a whiteboard drawing out a new process, creating workarounds, patching together what they hope will be a better way. And sure, they may make a better process, but how will the people affected by the new process accept the change? Is the structure of the organization set up to support the change? Does the new process align with the overarching strategy of the organization? How will other parts of the organization be affected? Is the new model / process sustainable if the economic conditions change either for better or worse?

Business Process Optimization Must Be Holistic To Be Effective

Organizations are complex beings, with many interconnected parts that must be considered to make any change successful. Any business process optimization initiative – or any operational planning activity, for that matter — must align across the four major interconnected components of the business ‘being’:

  • Strategy
  • Structure
  • People
  • Process

Business Process Optimization Essentials

There are many things to consider when making business process improvements, but the following are some of the “must-haves” for successful outcomes to occur:

It must be planned. Take a long-range approach to improving organizational performance and efficiency. Avoid the promise of a “quick-fix.”

It must be organization-wide. Change must focus on the total “system” and its inter-workings.

It must have support from executive management. Executives must support change by modeling the behavior and embracing the benefits.

It must increase organizational effectiveness and health. The change must prove to make the organization more efficient and more competitive.

It must include planned evaluations. Any business process change must include organizational checkups to manage and shorten the productivity gaps that naturally occur when change is introduced. This will enable better results, faster.

It must consider behavioral science. Effective change considers the nature of people, their responses to change, and the impact on organizational performance.

In summary, follow an approach that aligns process optimization with your company strategy, structure, people, and processes to create changes that stick and deliver the intended results.

Category: Business Growth & Strategy

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About the Author: Joe Evans

Since 2006, Joe Evans has been President & CEO of Method Frameworks, one of the world's leading strategy and operational planning management consultancies. The firm provides services for a diverse field of clients, ranging …

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