What is business process improvement? BPI
BPI can be seen as the analysis, review, and improvement of existing business processes. This analysis is done by mapping out the business process (current state), identifying inefficiencies (gaps), and redesigning the process (future state) to meet your desired state of operations.
When was the last time you reviewed your processes?
Technology is continually improving, which means tasks that once took days are now performed in minutes. The steps, speed, and staff involved in most operations may need to be reviewed as a result. If processes aren’t reviewed regularly, chances are they are not being performed as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Are your processes documented?
Documenting your processes is essential. It allows you to standardize, define roles, improve training and scale your business much easier. If your steps are documented, then you can quickly analyze your companies performance. This is most helpful when there is turnover, and new employees need to be brought up to speed.
Current state analysis.
How many steps does the process have?
Count the number of steps in your process by looking at your existing documentation, or preferably a flow chart of your steps. This will allow you to compare any changes you might need to make in the future.
How much time does each step take?
Now that you’re looking at the individual steps of a process, you can look at each in isolation, making it simpler to assess the details. Identify an approximate time unit for each step, so you know how long every individual aspect takes to put together.
Which are the most problematic steps?
Identify the steps that cause the most issues, the most often. Find where roadblocks or bottlenecks commonly occur and where progress slows. These are the first areas you’ll need to find solutions for.
Which are the most time-consuming steps?
A step that takes a lot of time doesn’t automatically mean that it’s a step that can be improved, but you should still pay extra attention to these ones. If you can cut down even a fraction of the time these steps take, it will add up to much bigger savings.
Which business functions or team members are involved?
Get the head of each function involved. Consider every individual in this process— who performs the work, who approves it. They’ll be aware of issues or quirks you may not have considered, so involve them in the redesign process and encourage them to take ownership and responsibility.
How much impact does each step have on the total cost and quality of the process?
You’ll likely find that certain steps contribute more than others towards the quality of your output. Any refinements you make to these cannot sacrifice quality. Some other steps might require significantly more resources and therefore cost your company more.
What technology is available to help this run smoother?
Explore any technology that will let you do more with less. You will need to research what solutions will help your particular process run smoother. This might require the help of a consultant that can help find the right solutions. You may not be taking advantage of your current system; a consultant can review all avenues.
Which steps could be automated?
Often the tedious or repetitive jobs are the most significant cause of issues, and these easiest to automate. There is a wealth of software, apps, and tools available to make these processes more manageable.
What other changes can be made to improve this process?
Some issues you’ve identified will need you to think outside the box to find a solution. Having an independent third-party can help you think through these steps. They bring an unbiased approach and with fresh eyes on your process. Involve your team and ask them to brainstorm ideas as well.
What impact will these changes have on those who do the work?
Before implementing any changes, consider how they’ll affect your team—they’re the ones who will be working in the trenches on these processes each day. Test all of your changes and correct things as your go through this process. This is an opportunity for your team to make additional suggestions and improve the process before its fully implemented. Your goal is to make sure each aspect of every operation is well-planned and performing as well as it could, but this could do more harm than good if your staff are unhappy.
Effective process management requires you to find answers to each of these questions. You need to challenge yourself and ask the question of Why. Why are we doing it this way? What’s the impact if we change it? Improving the steps in each process will mean your team can achieve much more with less. And as technology grows even smarter, this is a trend that will only increase.