Scaling a business is about executing the same processes at a higher level with a larger workforce. But here's the kicker: the bigger your team gets, the more scope there is for confusion and chaos — leading to inefficiency.
So, what’s the most effective way to grow your team and streamline all processes for maximum productivity? The short answer: business process improvement.
Process improvement identifies redundancies and gaps in your operational processes to help optimize these workflows and get the best out of your team. It boosts employee productivity, eliminates waste and increases your bottom line.
What is process improvement?
Process improvement is analyzing business processes to identify opportunities for optimizing these processes and improving the outputs. Also known as business process management (BPM), a process improvement cycle aims to reduce errors, avoid waste and maximize efficiency.
For example, let’s consider that you have a process for onboarding new hires. Some potential problems in this process can be:
- Overload of information for employees.
- Improper timelines create delays and confusion.
- No designated responsibilities for those involved.
These problems can overwhelm your new employees and affect their ability to understand their roles properly. More importantly, it can slow down their productivity at work and eventually increase employee turnover.
With process improvement, you can tackle each of these bottlenecks by:
- Collecting all the information in an employee welcome kit.
- Establishing a 30-60-90 day onboarding plan.
- Specifying everyone’s roles throughout the onboarding process.
So, let’s see why you need process improvement to run things smoothly.
5 Reasons why process improvement matters
At its core, process improvement creates a balance between available resources with organizational goals. Here’s how a process improvement framework can help your business:
- Improve process visibility and employee efficiency.
- Increase alignment between different stakeholders.
- Improve resource management to minimize waste.
- Enhance cost and quality management.
- Save time and redundancies.
But here’s the catch: your process improvement efforts are incomplete without comprehensive documentation. So, how do you document all process improvement ideas?
Let’s find out.👇
6 Types of process improvement documentation (+ Templates)
Despite your best effort, things are going slow for your business. Your employees are not performing at their best, your workflows are ridden with flaws and your growth seems sluggish. Does this sound familiar?
If yes, you need one of these six process improvement documentation to optimize your business processes and supercharge your operations. Let’s break down each of these documentation templates.
Kaizen is a Japanese ideology of continuous improvement using lean and agile principles. This process improvement methodology focuses on improving efficiency and productivity by creating an environment of learning. Instead of punishing employees for making mistakes, Kaizen emphasizes continuous learning, not repeating those mistakes.
Micro-changes are one of the characteristic features of this process improvement ideology. It introduces improvements at a smaller scope and standardizes these changes, primarily for:
- Optimally using the resources and reducing costs.
- Improving the quality of business processes.
- Enhancing resource management.
- Improving working conditions.
Use this process improvement documentation template to execute the Kaizen methodology for your business.
The 5S model makes process improvement consistent with five key steps:
- Sort (Seiri).
- Set-in-order (Seiton).
- Shine (Seiso).
- Standardize (Seiketsu).
- Sustain (Shitsuke).
You can use these five steps to identify inefficiencies in your processes, create an action plan to remove these issues and establish a new methodology. Then introduce standardized systems to make the new method a part of your processes. Lastly, the focus is on implementing this methodology in the long run.
Use this 5S process improvement documentation template to execute the 5S methodology for your business.
3. Value Stream Mapping
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) visually represents your business processes from your customers' perspective to highlight how information and value flow through your processes. This process improvement method uses a set of symbols to visualize this flow of information from one point to another.
VSM creates repeatable steps to improve business processes. It also makes a visual chart to explain these steps for better understanding.
At its core, VSM makes your processes more sustainable and error-free by:
- Identifying and eliminating waste to boost your bottom line.
- Creating a culture of coordination and improvement to follow every process.
- Prioritizing customers' perspectives to streamline all handoffs in a process.
Here’s how you can create a process documentation template using the VSM methodology.
4. Lean Coffee Framework
The Lean Coffee Framework removes the need for large-scale brainstorming sessions that lead to no concrete outputs. You can use this framework with simple tools like a whiteboard, post-it notes and pens.
You need three main columns on the whiteboard:
- To discuss: the processes that you wish to improve.
- Discussing: the processes and improvements on the table.
- Discussed: the processes you’ve discussed with solutions.
Each member of your team will pitch a few ideas for the first column. Once you have a good list of ideas/topics, take a vote for what items the team wants to prioritize. Move them to the discussing list and put them up for discussion one by one. When you have some solid ideas for a process, move them to the third column and it's ready for improvement.
The Lean Coffee Framework is different from the other process improvement methodologies in that it simplifies the planning process for large groups.
Use this process improvement documentation template to execute the Lean Coffee methodology for your business.
5. SIPOC Analysis
The SIPOC Analysis framework breaks down a process into different components, like:
- Suppliers: those who provide inputs for a process.
- Inputs: resources required to execute a process.
- Process: steps involved in a process.
- Outputs: results or final product.
- Customers: those receiving the final product.
The SIPOC Analysis method is excellent for analyzing the scope for process improvement in each of these components of a process. Creating a process template using SIPOC can streamline your brainstorming sessions.
Use this process improvement documentation template to execute the SIPOC Analysis methodology for your business.
6. Process Maps
Process maps visually explain a process using diagrams or flowcharts. This method arranges different steps from start to finish to fully understand the scope and identify redundancies, bottlenecks and other issues affecting the process.
With process maps, you get an in-depth view of how you can optimize a process through documentation, communication and other problem-solving initiatives.
You can create different types of process maps, such as:
- Activity maps to differentiate between valuable and non-valuable activities.
- Document maps to identify the kind of process documentation required in a process.
- Rendered maps to compare the present and future state of a process.
- Value stream maps: to visualize process improvement prospects from a customer’s perspective.
Create a business process template using these symbols for process mapping.
4 Process improvement documentation best practices
Now that you know the types of process improvement documentation you can create, take a look at these proven best practices to make your documentation airtight.
1. Involve the entire team in documentation
First things first, you can’t create a framework for improving processes in isolation. You need the support of key stakeholders to identify the core reasons behind flawed processes and brainstorm actionable solutions to improve them. So, bring your entire team on board for these documentation discussions.
2. Create a process for review & upgrade
No process improvement document is perfect. But you can make it so by taking your team's feedback regularly. Establish a workflow for the review, modification and approval of your documents. You can also create guidelines to ensure all changes are consistent with the overall documentation process.
3. Design documentation templates
Templates are an easier way to create a draft documenting your process improvement initiatives anytime. Instead of starting from scratch, you can pick up a business process template document to lay down your suggestions for improvement.
And guess what? Creating these process templates is a piece of cake with Scribe. Use any template shared in this guide or draft a new one — in seconds.
4. Make documents easily accessible
Once ready with your business process templates, use the right documentation tools to share access with everyone.
Create your process improvement documentation seamlessly
Process improvement is about finding the scope of improvement in a business process to make it more streamlined and produce high-quality outputs. You can improve processes in many ways, six of which are explained in this quick guide.
But the most critical part of implementing business process improvement is documentation.
Without airtight documentation to explain your strategy and workflows, your process improvement initiatives can fall through the cracks. So, use any of the process templates listed in this blog and skyrocket your productivity!