The first time it hits you that you need to improve your organizational processes, your next step is likely to search for a new process that works immediately and is efficient. Then, you'll set out to implement.
But how do you know your processes need improving? And how do you know if it's too late to fix it?
When implementing and improving processes, you want to make sure that:
- It’s easy on your employees.
- You're setting them up for optimal performance
- At the same time, you're not struggling to deliver on your own work.
It’s not uncommon for project managers to struggle managing their team members because of process abnormalities.
Are you stuck trying to find the best way to improve existing processes or implement new processes that work for your team and organization?
We’ve put together everything you need to know here, with our ideas to help you jumpstart your process improvement cycle.
So, let’s get right into it!
Identifying process problems
First, it’s essential to know that if you can’t recognize what’s wrong with your current processes, it'll be challenging to make improvements. So, the first step is to identify why your current processes are not doing it for you anymore.
Now, while these reasons may differ depending on your field or sector, they can still be summarized into the five points below.
1. You’ve outgrown them
You most likely went along with a process because that was how everyone else in your industry handled things. Still, change is constant, so it is possible to wake up one day and not find a process relevant to your existing realities.
2. They no longer meet your goals
One of the main goals of implementing a process is for it to make your life easier and streamline your operations better. A deviation from this might show you there’s a need to look into things. If a process was implemented to cover an aspect of your business and, say, there’s an innovation or addition to that aspect, there’s a likelihood you might need a newer process to cover this up.
3. Your team capacity is expanding
A team size increase or an increase in production capacity can trigger a need for a process inspection. You can’t manage a team of ten the same way you would manage a team of 30 or 50, the same way you can’t use the same processes for an increase in production output.
4. There are easier ways to do things
Process improvements can include things as simple as making it easier for your employees to book a meeting, manage customer requests, and automate delivery processes. Anything that reduces waste and increases productivity is a green light.
5. It’s just time for a change
Sometimes there’s no dramatic reason. It’s just the intuitive realization that there is a need for change. While it’s good to back things up with data, the signs can poke through even without any analytical review, and you will know there’s a need for an improvement in how current processes are run.
However, finding out later than you should would cost you more, and you don’t want this, so these are some departments to look out for loopholes within your organization immediately.
- Customer service.
- Human Resources.
- Employee safety policies.
Some of the benefits of putting all of these process checks and balances in place are that they help your organization improve operations and output.
It also heavily contributes to cutting down costs and identifying loopholes that affect productivity.
While compiling this, we looked at some of the best resources available on the internet as regards how some of today’s thriving and well-known businesses have improved their processes. This is, so the ideas we share here are proven, tested, and tried techniques that have proved rewarding for other organizations.
7 process improvement ideas & strategies — & how to implement them
1. Establish company quarterly targets & key objectives
In 2020, during the pandemic, organizations had a rude awakening to new work culture. This birthed a more mainstream remote work era, a deviation from how most organizations worked.
Despite the new way of work and the crippling effects of the pandemic, certain businesses were immediately able to make this work by implementing OKRs and setting KPIs for employees.
Why did this system work?
By assigning critical metrics to employees, you let them become immediately aware of the expected deliverables from their end and give them a sense of responsibility.
In scenarios where employees didn’t have things defined or KPIs to meet, there was nothing to aspire to or work towards. But giving employees metrics to track and report on meant everyone could visualize how they contributed to company growth. This consequently impacted company output. If there was a lapse anywhere, one could see who wasn’t doing their job.
If you don’t already have this in place, you should immediately look to set it in place. Every month or quarterly (depending on what works for you), set company goals and objectives and share them with your team members. Ensure each objective is carefully curated with inputs from team leads to act as drivers to help team members achieve target OKRs successfully.
2. Communicate effectively
To find out how important communication is to scaling business operations, this study shares that improved communication could raise employee productivity by as much as 25 percent
The trick here is that communication looks like such an easy thing to do, but it’s been proven time and time again that most teams struggle with this.
Some team members may not understand communication best practices, and in some cases, poor communication can lead to disagreement, frustration, and reduced productivity among employees.
Having regular team reviews and effective communication brings everyone aboard on what progress is like and where the company is at.
It's advisable to have a day in the week when each team comes together to set weekly priorities that guide the activities for the week. You can use a tracker filled weekly by team leads to share weekly targets and priorities with the rest of the team.
This would encourage a synergized environment that allows everyone aboard your teams to make collective inputs and contributions to company-wide activities
Remember, communication is effective only if the person on the other end understands entirely what was shared and what they are to do
If it can be an email, don’t ask for a meeting, or better still, use Scribe. Want to show how a process works to, say, a new employee? See how Scribe simplifies this here
3. Track & manage time
Depending on how you work, remotely or on-site, it’s hard to monitor exactly what employees do with their time during work hours, but you want to give your team the autonomy and freedom to work as they deem fit without having to micromanage them. It can be a real worry on how to do this effectively.
One way to address this is to use time-tracking software. There are handful on the market that enable employees be accountable for their time during work hours.
But you also want to avoid obsessing over time spent instead of productivity. Time spent doesn’t necessarily equal productivity, so you want to focus on getting things done instead of how many hours is spent per day getting it done. If you do this, you will be more results-focused than the hours spent.
4. Track team performance
Your team performance tells you two essential things as the head of operations:
- If your processes are working.
- Where they need improvement.
When you assign KPIs and tasks for the month, you want to make sure you follow up. Follow-up can mean review sessions and checking in on employees to find where they are struggling and with what. These little things make so much difference in your teamwork flow efficiency.
Without keeping track of tasks, it’s impossible to discover where roadblocks lie, reveal redundant tasks, or discover new opportunities for automation.
And if you can’t measure it, you can’t effectively manage it, so here are some essential metrics for you to track.
Please note that this is a general overview of metrics to track. Some teams would require specificity, and you can determine that after setting the monthly/quarterly objectives
- Project cycle time.
- Time efficiency.
- Task submission frequency.
- Actual vs. estimated operational costs.
- Task completion rates.
- Current task backlogs.
- Customer satisfaction rate.
5. Automate your processes
Research has proven that a good percentage of most manual tasks can be automated to improve employee productivity. So many software that focuses on workplace improvements now exists from engineering to communication to workflow documentation.
Sadly, some organizations still operate a paper-based system of documentation. It’s 2022, and there are no pros to it. From the limitations it poses to the risk of losing it all, automating your documentation process makes things much more accessible — not to mention efficient.
With a tool like Scribe, you can create SOPs in minutes. Scribe is a process documentation tool that turns any workflow into a step-by-step guide. All you have to do is:
- Turn on the extension (or desktop app).
- Go through your workflow.
- Watch the magic happen — Scribe creates a step-by-step guide, complete with text and annotated screenshots.
Here's a Scribe in action. And it only took 15 seconds to make.
Store and share a Scribe for as long as you like, go back to make changes and edits to existing documents, experiment with different types of media for each Scribe — without the risk of losing your data.
Scribes are easy to organize, share or embed in any other tool. Plus, with Scribe Pages, you can combine Scribes with images, video and more to create dynamic training materials and SOPs — like this one:
6. Optimize your processes
Efficient processes produce efficient employees. As you improve your processes, strive for efficiency. The easier it is to carry out a process, the better.
For example, your team’s social media manager struggles to post regularly because the designs arrive late from your graphics designer, which in turn causes new product arrival announcements to be delayed by up to a week.
When you dig further, you find that your social media manager can’t send content to the graphics designer in time for a design because they get information on new product arrivals too late
To make this process work for everyone involved, you create a briefing at the end of each month to inform the social media lead on every new purchase or announcement the company would make in the new month. They, in turn, create a content calendar with that in mind and can send it to the graphic designer weeks before the expected date, and with that simple approach, you automatically fix that process.
The process is now optimized for better communication, faster delivery, improved working situations, and more business profitability.
7. Improve your customer service
There are numerous ways focusing on improving service delivery to your users helps your team.
If you decide to improve the load time on your website or mobile app, your engineering team is helping your customers experience your product better. The positive reviews they give help your social media team, and the recommendations and referrals help your sales team., Nothing motivates you like the nod of approval from external forces outside your team that you are doing well.
Lastly, The most important takeaway here is that process improvement is continuous. There's no perfect way to do anything, and newer ways are being discovered and innovated every day; the best way to make sure you are not left out is to adopt a repetitive and flexible model but, most of all, document existing processes effectively.
So many teams use word of mouth or don’t have a digitized documentation system for their processes, so they have to go over it every time there’s a need, like in the case of a new hire.
Scribe fixes this. With Scribe, you can create, improve and iterate a process document as often plus your Scribes would remain forever. Get started now! It's absolutely free.