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Process Efficiencies: How to Fix a Broken Process

4 min read


Hint: Business consulting can help improve operational efficiency

Process efficiencies are critical to the sustainability and profitability of every business. Improving operational efficiency requires some organizational study and analysis, followed by a thoughtful, strategic approach to change. Process mapping and consultation can provide essential insights while secure document management and automated workflow can deliver exactly the kind of efficiencies that benefit your organization most.

14 Symptoms of a broken process

Before we get to improving operational efficiency, it's often necessary to identify whether a process is broken. Symptoms of a broken process are wide-ranging and can be damaging to an organization on many levels. Most organizations experience several of these 14 symptoms:

  1. Customer complaints increase. If you are noticing that customers are unhappy, there's a good chance a broken process is at the root of the issue.
  2. Mistakes were made. When the work has been done but your staff didn't get it right the first time, and rework is necessary, that's a strong indicator of a process problem.
  3. Frustration is mounting. When you're picking up on a high frustration factor, there may be an opportunity to improve a process (and as a result, restore peace to the workplace).
  4. Results may vary. While this is a common phrase used as a disclaimer for products, consistency is vital to company success. High variability in output or results leads to high variability in customer satisfaction, and that is not advisable.
  5. Increasing lag time. When it's clear that some actions or deliverables are taking too long, it's time to map out the process and find where the slowdown is happening and why.
  6. High ratio of checking and review. Progress can be slowed when it's necessary to re-check results or review progress to an excess. Looking at the process can determine why.
  7. Wait times rise. If inventory, buffers, and other assets lay idle, there's likely missed opportunity. Process efficiencies can drive down wait times and reduce idling.
  8. It's all excessive. Excessive information exchange, data redundancy, and rekeying can be indicators there is a process inefficiency that can be addressed.
  9. Complexity, exceptions, and special cases. When special cases and exceptions abound, chances are good there's an opportunity to fine-tune the process earlier on so you can eliminate or reduce the problems.
  10. Workarounds. If staff is found circumventing established procedures to expedite work, it can lead to a bevy of issues. Workarounds illustrate there are efficiencies to be discovered, so it's good to recognize them as a red flag.
  11. It's all done piecemeal. If nobody manages the total process, but rather the process is managed in pieces, there's a good chance the process can be streamlined for greater efficiency.
  12. Managers spend a great deal of time “firefighting.” Putting out fires is hard work; it's far easier to prevent them from starting in the first place. So, if leadership is doing a lot of firefighting, it's probably time to light a fire under your process improvement efforts.
  13. You throw people or money at the problem, and it doesn’t get better. We've all been caught in the seemingly endless loop of throwing money at an issue or assigning more staff to it. If these tactics don't seem to be working, it's likely time to onboard a process improvement partner and get the job done right.
  14. The blame game is in extra innings. If your process spans departments and there is a lot of finger-pointing going on, that's a clear indicator of a process problem.

Improve process efficiencies: Here's how

Now that you've identified that your business has a problem, you may want to talk with a business process consultant. At EO Johnson Business Technologies, we support our clients' process improvement needs by assisting with process mapping and providing expert consultative input with proven results. More, we offer business document management software and solutions through Square 9, which enables you to capture and transform essential data intelligence so that your organization can work more efficiently and productively than ever before. And because we know working remotely is the way of the world these days, you can rest assured these tools can work from anywhere, just like you.

Here are ten steps you can take to address a broken process.

  1. Identify the process that is broken and needs fixing.
  2. Set goals that you want to achieve by fixing the process problem.
  3. Identify key stakeholders, and define roles and responsibilities for each.
  4. Seek to fully understand the broken process: why it's done that way, historical attempts to address the issue, what needs immediate attention, and what can and cannot change.
  5. Engage in process mapping. Again, a partner like EO Johnson can help your organization with effective process mapping so you that can spot the problem areas.
  6. Redesign your process. Look for opportunities to automate, and eliminate steps and redundancies.
  7. Support the new process with the right tools. That may mean investing in technology, people, external consultants, or all of the above.
  8. Educate involved parties. Make sure those who touch the process are trained not only on the new approach but on the tools necessary for the new process—a critical step in the implementation of a new process.
  9. Test and implement. A sure way to disenchant staff is to throw them into a new process that hasn't yet been perfected, so test first, and then implement the process. Along the way, be sure to monitor results and adjust the process if needed.
  10. Lather, rinse, repeat. Fixing a broken process requires a commitment to continuous improvement--so revisit and revise as necessary on your way to perfecting the process.
Ready for business process consulting or other consulting services?

Improving operational efficiencies and discovering process efficiencies is an ongoing process, and it can be difficult to go it alone. Business process consulting can support your organization's need for process improvement. Contact us to learn more about our business consulting services, workflow analysis services, Microsoft 365 consulting, or technology purchase consulting services, all of which can help you realize process efficiencies in your organization.




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