The Role of Process Improvement for High-Performance Organizations
by Core Solutions on April 25, 2019
At the OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute, Core Solutions’ CEO, Ravi Ganesan, presented on Utilizing Technology to Build a High-Performance Organization in a Value-Based Environment. In this blog, we’ll share the most important takeaways, which include defining a high-performance organization (HPO), and then examining, in detail, all the facets of operations, management and leadership that contribute to organization’s overall performance.
According to the High-Performance Organization (HPO) Center’s HPO Framework, a high performing organization is a company that out-performs its peer companies in monetary and non-monetary outputs and goal achievement for a period of five or more continuous years by having the right focus and priorities. There are five key strands of high performance, as designed by the HPO Center, which include:
- Management Quality
- Continuous Improvement and Renewal
- Long-Term Orientation
- Employee Quality
- Openness and Action Orientation
Within each of these strands are requirements and standards that organizations must meet. One important aspect of the “Continuous Improvement and Renewal” strand is process improvement, which will be the focus of this blog. Improving your organization’s processes can cut costs, provide a better customer experience and make many tasks simpler and easier, letting your leadership focus on innovating and perfecting its core competencies. To do so, organizations need:
- Ways to ensure they’re continually improving processes
- Strategies for process improvement
- Process improvement initiative they can use
Ensuring Continuous Improvement
Improving processes just once won’t do: the technological advances and programs that your organization implemented last year might be costly and inefficient compared to what’s available now. There are three important areas of focus that ensure processes are aligned with the times:
It seems obvious, but it’s worth stating. Frequently looking at each step of your organization’s business process to determine how long and efficient each step of a process takes to identify areas for improvement is the best way to set actionable goals. Take note of the time those steps take, the cost to execute, and how satisfied all stakeholders are at each step. These observations are the ones the organization will use to set actionable goals.
Simplifying processes requires observation and research, which allows you to develop a schedule or method that reduces overlap or duplicate work. How many touchpoints does your buyer’s journey have? How many screens are involved in the completion of one process? Take note of these numbers and brainstorm ways to eliminate the steps that don’t create value.
For an organization to perform well as a whole, processes need to be aligned to best serve customers. When one process is improved, bottlenecks can appear in others that are not efficient enough to keep up with the newly-improved processes. This is why it’s necessary to look at your organization as a whole. Whether you choose to begin with the minute details and then widen your lens, or on the flip side, begin from a wider view and work your way down, ensure you trace the path of both inputs and outputs to ensure alignment.
Strategies for Process Improvement
Strategies for process improvement are specific ways to change processes for positive shifts in costs, productivity and customer experience. These strategies are standardization, automation, definition of business rules, data interchange and outsourcing.
- Standardization is the cornerstone of efficiency. Using the same terminology, forms and methodologies across the whole organization ensures no time is wasted trying to clarify interdepartmental communication and allows for a uniform customer experience.
- Automation helps inputs and outputs move faster down the pipeline of your organization and ensures no information is “lost in the shuffle.” If documents are automatically routed for approval, for instance, your organization eliminates both the wait time for an employee to send them along later and the risk that employees might forget to send them.
- Defining your organization’s business rules means establishing and using criteria to approve documents or to direct customers to the department best-suited to their needs. These rules also help with automation in the long-run, providing rules upon which to program tech tools.
- Data interchange is the sharing of information between departments and databases. This strategy improves productivity by preventing duplicate work. Once information is collected, it should be available to everyone in the organization who needs it. Fortunately, many technologies help us share information while preserving privacy.
- Outsourcing certain parts of processes lets your organization to focus on core competencies, which is vital to its overall performance. Organizations surpass their competitors by achieving excellence in core competencies, so the more time dedicated to that pursuit, the better.
Process Improvement Initiatives
An initiative to improve your organization’s processes begins with a process inventory. It’s necessary to examine all the processes within your organization to know how they interact to make meaningful changes in each department without putting other departments at a disadvantage. Once your process inventory is complete, bring stakeholders together and create an “as-is” process map. This map shows how information and other inputs and outputs flow through the organization, who is involved at each step, and what business rules are involved.
With the “as-is” map in place, areas for improvement will come to light, allowing you to create a proposed process map. The proposed process map shows how the organization could look if the processes are optimized, simplified and aligned, and will serve as a guide for improvement, helping predict changes to the organization and potential impacts upon the customer and employee experience.
Building Your High-Performance Organization
As we’ve established, process improvement is only part of what it takes to become an HPO, but an organization cannot be high performing without all the right parts in place. Processes must be consistently examined and modified to adapt to growth, technological advancements and changing organizational needs.
Source: HPO Center
Let us know what you think