As a business leader, making your business processes more efficient and streamlined should be your #1 priority. It’s the most effective way to make a company productive and profitable and improve communication and coordination between employees.
This brings us to the big question: how do you start streamlining processes?
Studies suggest at least a third of activities for 60 percent of jobs can be automated. Imagine what your employees could do with all that extra time and the kind of impact the improved productivity would have on your business’s bottom line.
But that’s just one of the many, many changes to implement business process improvements and help your team operate better.
What is business process improvement?
Business process improvement (BPI) is the practice of optimizing and refining existing processes to see better results. Enterprise leaders or process owners use various methods to analyze and redesign workflows to improve accuracy, effectiveness and efficiency and then make changes within the processes to realize these improvements.
Note that the idea here isn’t just about fixing existing inefficiencies or problems—but also to gain a competitive edge.
Don’t confuse process improvement with process rebuilding, though. BPI helps you make your existing workforce faster and more efficient and not just create new ones for creation’s sake. It helps you meet growing customer expectations and share skills and knowledge between team members.
BPI also makes it easier to identify and eliminate resource wastage (money, time, material, talent and opportunities).
No wonder why 50 percent of organizations are making a conscious effort to improve their business processes.
11 business process improvement examples you can apply
When streamlining business processes, your first instinct is likely to automate business processes. And while that’s an excellent first step, there’s so much more you can do to bring your business to its peak efficiency.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Balancing resource allocation
Any successful business development process flow needs adequate resource allocation.
Suppose you end up allocating too many people to a specific part of the process. This results in excessive employee downtime and expenses. Likewise, having only a few employees work an elaborate process will make them feel overworked, even risking burnout.
Resource allocation isn’t only about human resources. You also want to use your raw materials, equipment and finances optimally to maximize results.
Business process improvement helps you identify areas of poor resource allocation and make the necessary adjustments to ensure each resource is adequately allocated throughout the workflow.
2. Digitizing paper-based processes
Printing, distributing and storing stacks of unnecessary paperwork is a chief efficiency drain. Case in point—workers spend 9.3 hours a week searching for and gathering information, according to McKinsey.
Paper-based documentation also limits accessibility, creates the need for storage space and increases risks of data loss (there’s no way to backup a paper-based file). On the other hand, document digitization gives you the following benefits:
- Builds a well-organized document inventory and groups all files by type.
- Allows you to create a plan for document scanning and prioritize paperwork according to sensitivity and confidentiality.
- Protects the file library from third-party security attacks.
- Makes it easy to get rid of redundant or obsolete documents.
In a nutshell, eliminating paper-based processes and conducting them digitally saves time and effort and provides easy access to important information.
3. Filling skills gaps
You likely have employees with specialized training and skills to carry out certain activities. And while they may be great at what they do, problems will arise when these employees fall sick, are unable to work for any reason, or go on vacation, causing all processes to come to a standstill.
To avoid this, consider training multiple team members in these skills. This way, if the subject matter experts are away, other employees can fill in to ensure the process remains on track and is completed on time.
4. Accelerating onboarding
Ensuring a positive experience is important when onboarding new hires, making them twice as likely to stay with your company in the long run.
So how does business process improvement help? Speed and simplicity are the key elements of a successful onboarding process. And BPI helps you achieve just that.
For starters, you can use a business process modeling tool to evaluate your current processes and visualize a more efficient process. Follow this up by automating critical onboarding phases, such as filing/updating documents, adding new hires to onboarding workflows, training and learning, and giving feedback.
Ultimately, you’ll have a streamlined candidate processing, hiring and training process in place, helping accelerate onboarding.
5. Shortening the sales cycle
Focus your business process improvement efforts on automation and digitization to shorten sales cycles. This will hasten sales conversations and reduce the time your customers have to rethink purchase decisions.
In fact, nearly 25 percent of businesses agree automation helps speed sales cycles. For example, a sales order automation tool lets you auto-populate quotes with relevant data, speeding up the process and reducing errors.
Similarly, you can help your sales team finalize deals from anywhere and from any device by digitizing contracts and using e-signature technology.
6. Speed up customer service
Did you know that 60 percent of users decide whether to do business with a company based on their customer service experience?
Implement strong improvements to your customer support processes to provide exemplary service that keeps customers coming back. For instance, you can introduce standardization for collecting information when customers phone in for assistance. With the right rules in place, you won’t have to deal with mistyped numbers, accidentally deleted calls that lead to service delays and improperly formatted feels.
Additionally, automated workflows also ensure your employees are gathering correct information from customers to facilitate good customer service.
7. Improving communication issues
Your employees are likely overwhelmed with information, including instant messages, countless emails and phone calls. And that’s not including the tons of project management and workflow apps they need to manage.
This enormity of information to process causes employees to miss out on noting important details required to achieve goals.
You can improve business processes by streamlining communication so that the right employees have access to the right details at the right time. Instead of employees shuffling through multiple communication channels, you have set platforms and tools that enable team members to collaborate efficiently as well as have a record of past communication.
8. Automate & simplify decision-making
The decisions you take can irreversibly change your company‘s development trajectory, so you’re likely contemplating the consequences of automated decision-making processes.
Hear us out: you don’t have to go all out and outsource decision-making to AI. But you can reduce a lot of guesswork from these processes by leveraging big data analysis to drive your sessions.
Here are a few useful strategies to complement your decision-making:
- Implement AI and ML tools to process and transform data into actionable insights.
- Use a digital asset management (DAM) solution to get one-click access to all data relevant to a process or discussion.
- Make decision-making processes transparent by documenting them and opening access to the appropriate team members.
The idea is to use tools that help you make data-backed decisions instead of taking a shot in the dark and hoping for the best.
9. Speed up approval times
Most process workflows require approval from superiors. While this does help prevent problems, it may also lead to various bottlenecks, such as miscommunication and lack of visibility into the full process.
Through BPI, organizations can not only accelerate approval processes but also lower employee downtime as they wait for approvals. Automating approvals ensures employees are providing complete and accurate information to managers faster while eliminating the need for managers to backtrack to cross-check information before granting approvals.
10. Minimizing data errors
In any process involving data entry, someone in the process can provide or record incorrect or incomplete information. However, these seemingly insignificant errant keystrokes can lead to major consequences.
Take the copy-and-paste gaffe at JP Morgan Chase, for example. One record-keeping issue resulted in a $6.5 billion reporting error that caused the firm to shell out $600 million in fines.
Data entry errors also halt the ongoing process, with people backtracking to find out what went wrong and where. While in most cases, the incorrect information is fixed and the process moves forward, there are also cases where employees may not be able to complete the process because of the missing data.
In such cases, applying process improvement strategies ensures your organization’s data entry isn’t causing inefficiencies.
11. Eliminate waste in processes
The main element of BPI revolves around optimizing processes by identifying and eliminating areas of waste within your processes. It allows you to save time and generate higher-quality end results.
Follow Lean principles to look for eight kinds of waste:
- Products waiting for the next step
- Unnecessary moving of products
- The inefficient motion of team members
- Excess processing
- Non-utilized or under-utilized talent
- Sitting inventory
If you find any waste in your existing processes, restructure your workflow or activities to eliminate them. This will immediately put you on the fast track toward more efficient processes that deliver more value faster.
3 business process improvement case studies
What does business process improvement look like in real life?
Here are three case studies showing you to get started with BPI and the potential issues you can address through it:
Crexi is a marketplace for commercial real estate listings. Every two weeks, the platform releases new product features that cause both internal and external help documentation to become redundant.
The company’s strategy to create videos addressing customer questions took too long to update and share with customers. Also, the internal process documentation ended up getting outdated quickly, creating another issue for the Crexi customer success team.
How Crexi implemented BPI
Crexi’s main challenges revolved around documentation, so it made sense it introduced a process documentation tool to streamline the creation and distribution of key docs with its customers.
Its customer success managers (CSMs) use Scribe to answer ad hoc questions and quickly update internal training documents. Despite the frequent changes in Crexi‘s processes and products, Crexi CSMs could quickly document processes and share them with a customer or upload it into their internal Sharepoint—all in just three minutes.
Want to learn more? Here’s a Scribe showing you how to use Scribe:
2. Maury, Donnelly & Parr
Maury, Donnelly & Parr is an insurance agency that wants to improve employee productivity by accelerating critical document preparation.
The company leaders realized its staff was spending the majority of their time manually transferring information between emails, PDF and Excel spreadsheets, making it difficult for them to focus on their core competencies. Fixing the consequential human errors here was another time-consuming aspect.
How Maury, Donnelly & Parr implemented BPI
Maury, Donnelly & Parr leveraged business process improvement strategies to reduce human errors by nearly 75 percent by automating processes to generate proposals.
Company leaders implemented a software tool to auto-fill form templates and perform quality checks for fixing errors. This helped the Maury, Donnelly & Parr team to create a proposal in just 7-12 minutes, which was a sharp decrease from the usual 45 minutes time frame.
Talon.One is an enterprise-focused promotion engine that allows users to build targeted and customized marketing promotions around your customer and session data.
Its global SDR leader wanted to build an SDR onboarding program that helped ramp new hires more efficiently and faster, despite having a vast team spanning over eight time zones.
How Talon.One implemented BPI
Similar to Crexi, Talon.One also used Scribe—but instead of streamlining process documentation, the company used it to improve its onboarding process.
With Scribe, Talon.One built a new outbound prospecting strategy and enabled a new SDR onboarding program. Before Scribe, the sales development team would take 15-20 minutes to produce written instructions, screenshots and videos. After Scribe, the Talon.One team could do the same thing in 1/10th of the time it took before.
From creating how-to documentation for every step of the SDR’s outbound process to general step-by-step guides showing new hires how to use its CRM and prospecting tools, Scribe helped Talon.One’s SDR leader to educate the team on new processes and drive consistency across a global team, effectively supporting the successful onboarding of 300 percent team growth.
Start improving business processes
Business process improvement is a steep road for team leaders, but it’s one worth the effort as it leads to higher revenue, lower workplace stress and facilitates the discovery of new opportunities.
The easiest way to upgrade and enhance your business processes is to digitize and automate your existing systems. This way, you spend less time on repetitive tasks and ensure your processes follow the same pattern to deliver consistent results.
Take your first step towards BPI with Scribe and get your documentation sorted. Sign up for free.