Business process improvement is a large undertaking no matter the scale of the organization. By following accepted best practices, you can ease the strain on the company that improvement will have and ensure a greater chance of long-lasting success.
While there are many components of process improvement, let's take a look at four of the most important areas where best practices and standards can be game-changing.
Process modeling is easily one of the most powerful tools in the experience. There is, however, a standard Business Process Model Notation (BPMN). This functions as an industry standardization tool for BPM software and process oriented companies to allow easy communication visually of an organization's processes.
Of course, any system has to have standards and rules to follow. When process modeling, you should always remember:
- Keep line-crossing to a minimum, and diagrams as neat and consistently organized as possible
- There is no significance to whether pools and lanes run horizontally or vertically, or whether a sequence flow enters an activity from left, right, top or bottom
- It IS, however, common practice to draw the flow from left-to-right with sequence flows entering activities from the left and exiting from the right; this will proved a much easier to read map
- the beginning and ending of a process, and who is inside or outside the process, is entirely a matter of perspective; try to view the process from the outside and remember that you aren't the only one who will ever need to read and interpret this
- The scope of the project should be clearly established, since BPMN can be applied to processes of all different sizes; a great way to aid in this is to use multiple end events to identify distinct end states, revealing the finite number of ending possibilities to the process to help establish scale
- Draw a message flow from an external requester pool to an event
Just Enough Processes
Having a large number of processes and great information and details about every single process is not what makes an organization process-mature. When a business is oriented around processes and high-functioning process improvement goals, the important ability is to be able to ask "How much process do we need right here?" and give the correct answer.
The goal is not to burden the organization with an overwhelming number of processes that simply don't add value. Organizations who are crafting their own processes and not relying on process improvement experts will also often fall into the trap of unnecessarily detailed process.
You want to be sure that you are spending just enough time as necessary to craft the processes and stay compliant with them.
Employees are the single most valuable resource for learning how an organization can increase value to customers. They are often in front of the customers either metaphorically or literally, and see on a day-to-day basis where the problems exist.
Why would an organization want to waste that?
When employees are involved in designing and determining what changes need to be made, it becomes a much more easily understood transition to implement the changes in practice and internalize them to become a natural part of everyday work.
If isolated and kept aside from the process of changing their work environment, employees can become despondent and feel isolated from the management - an attitude that breeds both low morale and lower quality work.
Nobody wants to feel like they don't understand changes that are forced upon them.
Having accurate business intelligence to measure how process changes and implementations are affecting the company is a must. These metrics are as valuable as the improvement efforts themselves.
The goal in any project or long-term continuous improvement effort is to view what is working, enhance it, determine what is working, repair or remove it and make room for new strategies.
It can take years or even decades for a business with problems at the core process level to realize they have a problem at all, let alone to attempt a fix at something so deeply rooted in a flaw that has been years in the making.
Good BI can prevent this from happening by creating an agile business environment that reacts to market change and gives your business the objective data needed to make crucial decisions.
Follow these best practices and your process improvement project will have a much greater chance of success both immediately and in the long-term, which is a win-win for you and your organization.