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5 Ideas for Improving Work Processes [With Examples]

5 Ideas for Improving Work Processes [With Examples]

The profitability of any business is typically a reflection of the success of their business processes. For a business to function at an optimal level, business processes must be improved continuously. 

The profitability of any business is typically a reflection of the success of their business processes. For a business to function at an optimal level, business processes must be improved continuously. 

There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ business process.

That’s because owners and managers should always be on the hunt for new and innovative ways to reduce waste, enhance quality and improve the user experience. Businesses that are content with their current efficiency soon fall behind their competitors.

What Are the Aims of Continuous Process Improvement?

Of course, more efficient processes are going to save your business valuable time and money, but are we missing the bigger picture? As well as financial benefits, how can improved processes help your business?

  • Reduce costs and higher efficiency
  • More affordable product
  • Improved product quality
  • Improved quality of service
  • Reduced billing cycles and optimised cash flow
  • Reduced delivery times

As you can see, improving your processes doesn’t just increase profits. The effects of optimising your workflows result in a ripple effect through every aspect of the business.

Techniques for Improving Your Business Processes

In an ideal world, your business will operate like a well-oiled machine. Every part of the machine will slide into place without interruption with everything working cohesively towards one overarching objective.

This is exactly what is required in the production of automobiles. Henry Ford became the first man to produce automobiles that were affordable for everybody. How did you get there? By continuously improving the business processes.

1. Six Sigma

The Six Sigma technique was produced by American engineer Bill Smith who worked at Motorola. Six Sigma aims to reduce the time, defects and variability of business processes. If done correctly, the Six Sigma technique produces defect-free products 99.9996% of the time.

Example

Imagine you are the manager of a leading car manufacturer. The number of cars produced per day is continuously dropping, and you’ve noticed that the quality of the paint job has deteriorated.

First, you need to define the problem that needs addressing, e.g. fewer cars are being produced and the paint quality has deteriorated.

The current process is then measured and analysed. You discover a way to increase the number of cars being produced and how to improve the paint quality. 

Lastly, you analyse and control the changes made to ensure that the problem has been resolved.

2. LEAN Technology 

The premise behind LEAN thinking inspires companies to constantly rethink the way they work. More specifically, the LEAN methodology seeks to reduce waste as much as possible. Waste could mean anything from, waste material, wasted time, or wasted energy.

Example

Imagine you own a small business. The business is performing well and you’re looking to expand. 

Using the LEAN methodology, you make your decision based on the customers perspective. This means you produce your product in line with customer demand. Focus is placed on producing one product at a time which minimises waiting times and waste whilst increasing quality and flexibility.

3. Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management utilises the input from everybody within an organisation. With this approach, businesses can draw feedback and inspiration from every corner of the business in the pursuit of process improvement.

Example

You own a business that operates within a highly competitive industry. Several local businesses provide the same product as you.

Your business goal is to continuously improve on the quality of your product so that you stand out amidst your competitors. High-quality products, attract customers and build brand loyalty.

4. Kaizen

‘Kaizen’ is a Japanese term which can be directly translated to ‘good change’. The technique was first adopted by the world-renowned automotive manufacturer Toyota. The theory behind Kaizen is that continuous incremental improvements over time lead to big results. With this methodology, businesses make it the responsibility of the entire workforce, from interns to managers, to seek improvement at every juncture.

Example

A marketing firm has recognised a drop in engagement on their primary social media platform.

The company gathers its workforce and identifies the problem. The team then works together to think of a solution. They notice that a competitor has more engagement because they produce video content for their social media channel instead of images.

The firm decides to invest more money into its videography team and produce more multimedia content.
Lastly, the firm analyses the results, standardise and adopt the findings and repeat the cycle for other processes.


5. The Deming Cycle (PDCA)

W. Edwards Deming is renowned as ‘the father of quality management’ on account of contributions to process improvements. The Deming Cycle places each business process within a continuous feedback loop that aims to continuously optimise each process. PDCA stands for plan, do, check, act.

Example

You’re running an eCommerce store and you notice an increased number of returns on account of products arriving at customers homes already damaged.

You hypothesize that changing to a new fulfilment centre closer to your customers might eliminate the issue.

You plan a strategy for testing the theory, implement the plan, check the results over time, decide whether or not to standardise this into your process.

What’s the Difference Between Incremental and Breakthrough Improvement?

Two main features separate the different improvement techniques. Some techniques favour incremental improvements over one-off breakthroughs. 

Incremental improvements are made gradually over long periods. Micro adjustments are made as problems occur organically within the business. Techniques like  Kaizen and LEAN technology are examples of incremental improvements.

Breakthrough improvements occur differently. Here, a team is united and goals are set. The objective is to intentionally analyse processes and identify areas for improvement. The Deming Cycle is an example of a breakthrough improvement technique.

Top Tips for Getting Started With Process Improvement

It can be difficult to know where to start with improving your business processes. The following lost aims to provide you with some inspiration for optimising the efficiency of your processes. 

Put the Customers First

Walk-in customer’s shoes help your business to operate with an emphasis on quality. More satisfied customers equal more demand, which leads to increased profit.

Pay attention to your CRM data and listen carefully to feedback from your customers. Speak with your customer support team, they might be able to provide you with useful insights. 

Include Your Employees

Techniques like the Kaizen method draw input from the whole workforce as a way of identifying pitfalls and bottlenecks within your processes. Your employees are the ones who work on these tasks daily, making them experts on the subject.

Standardise the Business Processes

To continuously improve your business processes you need to standardise your workflows and find a way of implementing them. Project management software enables your team to work through custom workflows consistently. This has huge financial benefits for businesses of any size.

Create Automated Workflows with AhoyTeam and Improve Your Business Processes

AhoyTeam enables your business to fully automate and customise repeatable business processes. Developing workflows with AhoyTeam avoid mistakes in your processes. Start automating HR and engineering workflows like onboarding and orientation within Slack and start saving your business valuable time and money. 


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