Process improvement is the proactive task of identifying, analyzing and improving upon existing business processes within an organization for optimization and to meet new quotas or standards of quality.
· Determine the scope of your process-improvement project. Do you want to review all functions and processes within the company or concentrate primarily on one?
· Pick a project champion. The person should be a decision-maker. Then select the team members from all levels involved in the workflow process to be overhauled and accountable.
· Gain support. Good communication is necessary to gain buy-in from everyone affected by the changes. How do you plan to communicate why the process improvement is needed and how the project will affect your staff? How will you reassure workers of job security?
· Develop a process-improvement goal. Be specific about your goals. For example, improve client services?
· Identify what you already do. Review the current workflow for the process being overhauled. Use input from all staff who contribute to the process. Document every step from start to finish. Note all exceptions to the general rules.
· Detail how each step is currently done. For example, what equipment and software are currently used? Who is doing the work? How is work being passed on to the next step in the process?
· Challenge the importance of each step. Once the “what” and “how” of each step are detailed, assess if the step is necessary or can be done differently.
· Develop new workflow options. Once you understand the current process and its problem areas, develop and evaluate workflow options. Evaluate each option against your process-improvement goal. For example, what are the costs involved? What savings will be realized?
· Document the new process and procedures. Many people are visual learners. Include diagrams and /or flow charts, and narratives which will be used for training.
· Provide training. Define the responsibilities of each individual involved in the work process and the skills and experience needed to meet expectations. Assess staff capabilities to perform the new workflow and use new technology. Provide training as needed.
· Implement. Communicate your expectations for successful implementation. When will the new process be launched and fully implemented? How will its success be measured? How frequently will the new process be evaluated? Who will be responsible for monitoring it?
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