“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” – Demming
W. Edwards Demming was scholar and teacher for more than half a century. He published hundreds of original papers, articles and books covering a wide range of business-related subjects from statistical variance, to systems, to human psychology.
When an entrepreneur embarks on creating a business, they are usually very hands-on, involved in most, if not all aspects of the business. Keeping across things is manageable and intuition would usually determine if things are going well or not. Typically, as the business grows the owner will often continue to “run it from their head” rather than by a well thought out and designed processes. One restrictive or underperforming process is built upon another, becoming a layered effect of inefficiency, which can be confusing and frustrating for staff and customers alike. Not to mention stressful and demanding on the business owner.
The business owner and staff can become so bogged down in the day to day activity, that no-one ever takes that time to stop and assess why the business is not moving forward or why staff constantly feel under pressure. Year after year the business is in survival mode, staff are unhappy and the business owner constantly questions why they are making profit but never seem to have any cash.
Finding a way out of running a business from a survival perspective can be overwhelming!
To create a series of successful processes requires some thought, planning and a strategy for approaching the exercise.
Here are five ideas that a business owner can use to improve the business processes.
1. Commit to making change
Its very easy to keep doing things the same way simply because time is seemingly unavailable to make changes. The first step in improving business processes has to be to commit to embarking on a process improvement strategy.
2. Understand and outline current processes
Every business has some type of process whether it be good or not so good. Knowing where the process is at now will assist to understand where to take it in the future. Get the team together and work on documenting step by step the process that already exists.
3. Determine the value-add
Once you understand the current activities, the next step is to determine if there is value-add in the activity. Always consider if this is an activity with an associated overhead that you would be happy to pay for if you were a client or customer of your own business.
4. Monitor the activity but don’t get stuck on metrics
For years it has been ingrained in the business owner that “if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it”. Of course, there is no point in implementing a process if you take no time to ensure its working. So a level of measurement is certainly warranted. However, be careful that measurement does not stop the action. And don’t underestimate the power of measuring results simply by the energy that is created in your business.
5. Keep endeavouring to improve
It goes without saying that business process improvement requires ongoing attention and that it’s not a singular, overnight fix. Keep improvement activities fluid and rewarding for staff. Whilst improving processes, you will help to build a culture of improvement and commitment.
Don’t feel like going it alone? The team at The Retriever can assist your business to assess, devise and implement business processes into your organisation. Using their unique approach, The Retriever focus on people; motivating them to achieve in an environment of trust, relationships, interdependence and pride in their work. Contact The Retriever for a free one-hour consultation.