What is the best way to increase productivity and reduce costs in a company? Perhaps better prioritization of activities? Optimize costs and expenses as much as possible, thus reducing waste? Or by re-evaluating workflows and giving employees working conditions that improve their efficiency and productivity?
The truth is that making huge changes to the way your staff work on a daily basis, such as introducing a remote working policy, is of little consequence if your company’s processes are outdated and slow. Problems with non-optimized processes can affect any area of your business, from sales to IT.
If a core team’s access to the company server is disconnected without IT being able to remedy the problem, work throughout the company may come to a standstill. Similarly, if sales and marketing teams do not have a defined process for sharing key information, how can they work together effectively? The best strategy to solve these problems is through Business Process Optimization.
Business Process Optimization may sound like a complex topic, but it’s actually quite simple. Let’s analyze it.
What is Business Process Optimization?
Business Process Optimization, also known as BPO, focuses on improving the efficiency of a company by optimizing its core processes in a targeted and rigorous manner. BPO can be applied to internal processes – i.e. involving the company’s own staff – and external – i.e., involving customers and/or suppliers – as well as to individual processes and departments. However, it works best when an organization strives to improve all or most of its processes across the board in an organic and harmonized manner.
The benefits of process optimization
Process optimization may seem daunting if you do not know where to start from and, above all, why. Let’s take the example of a car to understand it better: if our car has a flat tire, a broken windscreen, and its engine is temperamental, but it’s still running and can get you from A to B, can it really be considered broken? Most people would agree that, yes, the car is broken, despite being technically functional.
The same logic should be applied to business processes. Just because an already existing process gets the job done doesn’t mean that it is acceptable or really works. It’s always worth improving your processes to make them faster and smarter and reduce costs. Let’s take a look at some more specific benefits.
While hard work is essential to move a company forward, working smarter where possible can help your teams do more to a higher standard. This does not mean rushing to do more during the working day; instead, simplifying a process – removing unnecessary obstacles or automating specific tasks – can give employees more time to focus on what matters.
As they say, “Work smarter, not harder”.
Better cost management
Higher efficiency + higher productivity = higher profits. You get more out of your investments by reducing the downtime employees suffer due to outdated, confused and inefficient processes. Likewise, carefully reviewing which tools or services from outside suppliers paid for from your company budget could open up opportunities for cost-saving initiatives.
Improved working atmosphere and improved results
When employees are frustrated because outdated processes make their work unnecessarily complicated, the risk is that the general mood sinks and further interferes with workers’ productivity and performance. People usually want to do a good job, so eliminating factors that hinder or slow down the work process as much as possible and optimizing the systems used daily will make the difference in ensuring employees feel happy and satisfied. This, in turn, equals better results, whether more satisfied customers or creating higher-quality products.
Let’s take the car example again. Would you rather drive a shabby vehicle or a modern model with new wheels and a first-class engine? Companies that regularly improve their systems and processes are more likely to generate new customers and, generally, develop good working relationships with end users, who ultimately remain satisfied with the experience.
Optimizing your processes and, thus, the experience customers have with your business will give you a significant advantage over your competitors.
How to implement Business Process Optimization in your company?
It can be tempting to jump headlong into an exciting new initiative, especially if it promises attractive returns, but let’s take a step back. Good planning is the key to effectively executing a business process optimization project, and here are the basic steps to follow.
The first step is identifying which processes are causing problems within your company’s ecosystem. Some may be immediately obvious; perhaps you’ve already complained that your current IT system crashes too often, leaving employees without access to servers. Other outdated or unsuitable processes may be less noticeable because they only impact specific teams or particular job functions.
However, it’s unthinkable that you’re aware of all the problems your employees encounter during their daily work tasks, so it’s worth involving them and asking them for useful suggestions.
At this stage, you should also define the purpose of each improvement and the goals you want to achieve from this optimization work. As with most goal-setting activities, we recommend that these should be realistic and well-defined.
Once you have a list of processes to be optimized, it’s time to start the analysis. This is an opportunity to examine each identified process in more detail and determine whether or not it’s working as intended based on the desired objective. You’ll likely discover additional problems and opportunities to reduce waste during this phase.
In this phase, you must simplify each process where appropriate, reducing waste. This may mean replacing obsolete software, digitizing several operations previously carried out inefficiently or inappropriately, and removing unnecessary steps from processes.
Also, where possible, automate management or logistics tasks to free up your employees’ time and allow them to focus on more valuable activities, such as building customer relationships or planning new projects.
Not all Business Process Optimization work will be successful immediately, and some of the new and improved processes will take time before they work or gain the full approval of your employees.
Optimization is an iterative process involving multiple discussions with stakeholders, and making changes and further improvements as you go along is totally normal.
What are some practical examples of Business Process Optimization?
Concepts such as Business Process Optimization may seem somewhat abstract until we analyze them in real terms. Let’s take a look at some examples of how BPO can work.
In sales, timing is everything. Outdated sales processes rely on reps’ judgement, who use instinct or plans based on old-fashioned models to cultivate relationships with potential customers. Although these more traditional approaches may still work – in some cases – the process is certainly not optimized, especially when we’re managing large sales volumes
Monitoring conversations via a CRM can help sales teams optimize their processes. These tools can provide helpful information on which tactics work best to convert leads or send automatic reminders when it is time to follow up on a conversation.
Project managers will be familiar with the need to optimize processes. Projects with little or no optimization can drift or even go astray over small things, such as missed deadlines due to feedback obtained behind schedule or unclear approval processes. In project management, process improvement plans are often used to correct these problems. Improvements may include monitoring risk through a risk register or defining responsibilities through a RACI matrix.
Such plans are generally useful at the project team level but can also feed into broader Business Process Optimization planning.
Human resources teams deal with a lot of administrative work, from managing the entire recruitment process to organizing team building or corporate welfare activities. The fact that their work impacts people’s lives means that ensuring that their systems work effectively is a must.
How NotifyMe can help?
Are you ready to take the first steps to improve business process optimization? NotifyMe is a company in the Horizon Group. We specialize in innovation, quality control and digitization for the oil and gas, energy and manufacturing industries: our software solutions focus on how people use and share data in the workplace.
NotifyMe focuses on automating collaboration processes between employees, customers and suppliers. We have developed a software platform to simplify collaboration in the supply chain using automated workflows.