CIOs have emerged as the torchbearers of innovation and efficiency. In the digital era, efficiency is not a mere preference but a strategic imperative.
Every organization harbors at least one process that tests the limits of patience. It's often characterized by delays and errors, seemingly resistant to improvement yet crucial to numerous employees, rendering change intimidating. Renowned methodologies like Six Sigma, lean management, and total quality management are lauded for their proficiency in process enhancement. However, they may be cumbersome for processes that hover between complexity and simplicity, such as budget approvals and purchase requests in organizations where logistics isn't the primary focus.
The secret to boosting process efficiency frequently resides in simple alterations. This is a domain where the organizational culture and the tools utilized by employees hold significant sway. Rather than continuously patching up issues, organizations can prevent them by incorporating these adjustments into their processes.
1. Make documentation accessible to everyone
Employees who are responsible for the process should definitely have access to the process documentation. If the employees who carry out the steps of the process only know their own responsibilities, you can never drive the process to efficiency. Employees just assume their step is the most important and ignore everything else.
The employees involved in the process are the best people to improve it. Share the documentation and make it accessible to everyone. Make sure they understand every nook and corner of the process. Slowly, you will notice employees making suggestions on how the process can be improved.
2. Prioritize tasks and assign stakeholders
Instead of trying to chase every request in the process, prioritize them and bring out the best quality. Steven Covey’s prioritization matrix can help here.
You can model the matrix to fit into your process execution strategy. Define conditions for when an item is crucial and not-crucial.
Let’s say you have a sales order process. You could prioritize the orders factoring in customer lifetime value (CLV), level of urgency, and size of the order. You can assign conditions for when an order is high-priority when the metrics collectively cross a certain threshold value.
3. Automate the process
Automation works based on preset rules and conditions. To automate a process, everyone is required to understand the process clearly. All the manual emails and request routing are completely automated. The items in the process reach the right people based on the conditions specified in the documentation.
According to the Automation in the Workplace report by Smartsheet, employees are eager to reduce time spent on monotonous manual tasks such as data entry and instead focus more on fulfilling aspects of their work.
With Kissflow Process you can automate any process easily in a matter of 15 minutes. The intuitive interface makes it easy for anyone to build and make changes to a process with ease. Instead of relying on IT or technical help, you can manage the process yourself with complete control.
First Philippine Holdings (FPH), a holdings company with interests in renewable energy, real estate, manufacturing, and more, faced challenges with manual approval workflows and tracking approval requests. The process was inefficient and increased their carbon footprint.
They turned to Kissflow for a solution. Joseph Arnel Chavez, Assistant Accounting Manager at FPH, chose Kissflow because of its ease of use, fair pricing, and familiarity among the senior management.
With Kissflow, FPH went paperless, reducing its carbon footprint and automating over 100 office processes, including accounts payable, billing, and admin requests. They were able to process over 1,000 paperless approvals monthly, dramatically improving their finance and accounts operations.
Kissflow's mobile app also allowed for timely approvals from senior leaders, enhancing operational efficiency and customer service. FPH plans to leverage Kissflow’s integrations and external portal features for further improvements.
4. Encourage proactive communication
A lot of errors can be prevented by proactive communication. If an employee foresees an error or inefficiency in the process, coworkers should realize the impact and act on it quickly. Nurture a work culture that encourages team members to identify and solve problems. Announce incentives to employees for increasing the efficiency of the process.
Proactive communication does not mean restlessly seeking problems and solving them. It is acting on a problem immediately after you identify one.
5. Monitor the process at regular intervals
Assign a process owner if there isn’t one. The process owner is responsible for supervising and maintaining good function of the process. Usually, the process owner is the department head or someone who has clearance to access all data within the process.
Choose regular time intervals after which the process owner analyzes the process. The process should have completed enough cycles to give you enough data on how it has performed. See if all the steps are working at their best efficiency. Identify patterns of errors in the process and find out ways to eliminate them.
6. Make changes that bring maximum impact
There are hundreds of improvements you can make to the process. But everything cannot be done in one shot. Be smart at choosing which improvements to execute. The Pareto principle comes in handy.
The pareto principle states that 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes. It also means that if you act on 20% of the causes you bring 80% improvement. Instead of doing pointless busy work, concentrate on making improvements that bring more impact.
You need not break your head calculating the percentage of impact. Remember and apply the principle theoretically when you have multiple improvements to make.
No workplace operates at a hundred percent efficiency. It’s normal to have chaotic processes that induce confusion and chaos. But you make the difference by acting on it and optimizing the process constantly. That is what separates the average from the best.
All these tips are equally important to make a continuous improvement in your process. Execute these changes and reduce the inefficiencies in your chaotic process.