Ill-defined business processes cause tremendous frustration and inefficiency in companies of all sizes. Employees feel trapped and have little choice but to "keep their heads down" and work within the existing process constraints - often at great personal expense. Managers usually report having a gut feeling that something is wrong, but rarely can quantify the problem.
Typically they have neither the time nor the expertise to analyze, streamline the broken processes and are prone to "throwing bodies" at the problem. Adding headcount to muscle through a broken process may be a reasonable short term fix, but is rarely a viable long term solution. A more thoughtful approach is often required.
What managers need more than anything else is an objective, critical assessment of the targeted processes and a proven approach for systematically addressing the underlying bottlenecks, errors, and rework. Managers are better off engaging experts to lead their team in transforming and standardizing the targeted processes than trying to drive process improvements with internal resources which are likely inexperienced, resistant and over-allocated.
Listed below are high-level descriptions of the kinds of issues reported by managers and employees. Do any of these sound familiar?
We still rely on inefficient paper-based processes.
It is hard to believe that many companies still rely heavily on paper to manage core business processes. Usually, there are so-called "perfectly good reasons for doing so," but few are legitimate. The wasted effort in these organizations borders on criminal. Even Excel-based tracking solutions can seem like light years ahead of existing paper-based processes.
Employees rely on tribal knowledge to get the job done
In some companies, particularly within support functions, standardized processes do not exist. Employees rely mostly on tribal knowledge to get the work done, and every person has their way of doing things. Employees ignore best practices, and performance metrics are absent. Managing these functions can be extremely difficult. Waste, error, and rework abound.
I spend all my time fixing someone else's errors
Few people enjoy fixing their own mistakes, and almost no one enjoys checking and correcting the work of others. But alas, error and rework rates in many business functions are often very high. Employees resist standardized processes citing that they are professionals and need latitude to get the job done. In such cases, the introduction of best practices and objective performance metrics can help managers turn things around.
We don't even follow our own SOPs
New managers are often dismayed to hear that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are inadequate or in some cases nonexistent. Both situations are bad but not nearly as troubling as when employees ignore published SOPs. In such cases, particularly in highly regulated environments, it is only a matter of time before "things go pear-shaped."
Lean and Six Sigma methodologies can be successfully applied to diagnose and address even the most complicated process challenges. The trick is knowing how and when to leverage the various tools and techniques most effectively. A traditional, full-blown Six Sigma deployment is NOT required to realize significant benefits.
Let one of our Transformation Advisors guide you in leverage disciplined process improvement strategies and techniques that will work within your specific organization.