No process is immediately perfect. Perfection is a relentless effort that requires honest analysis followed by adjustments and improvements.
Process optimization methods can help guide those adjustments and improvements. With process optimization, the ultimate goal is to help you become more efficient by adjusting certain aspects of your project or business, be it operating procedures, equipment and resource management, or a control loop, to name a few.
In a consumer-oriented fabric store, for example, you have workers who are sorting, folding, packing, and measuring different sizes of fabric. But if these workers have some glaring inefficiencies in the process, then the rest of the process may be completely thrown off course. By optimizing the sorting, folding, and packing process, you can improve your business as a whole.
What is process optimization?
A process is simply a group of tasks managed by people or teams. But instead of focusing on the series of activities that deliver an end product, it is more event-oriented.
The goal with process optimization is to reduce risk, streamline operations, improve worker output, increase efficiency, use resources more effectively, and improve quality assurance.
It is also important to understand how each process interacts with the other to break down barriers between silos and increase collaboration between owners. Once these details are considered, only then can you make fully informed decisions about projects.
Process optimization methods
The best way to implement your new process, track its success, and adjust it is to follow the steps below. This will also help you reveal which processes are bottlenecks in project output and which are running smoothly.
1. Research and identify
Research and identify which of your processes are missing. This can be done by interviewing staff members, workers, leaders, and reading a log of recent customer inquiries. This will help you identify the biggest problem areas in your company. In addition, collect and analyze data related to your processes. This can be as simple as tracking how long it takes a worker to complete a task.
This can be done using flow charts. It documents which processes are owned by which workers and which dependencies and resources are involved in their execution. What resources could help fill the gaps? Which workers could help simplify the process a bit? By mapping this, you can see where the holes are within each process.
For 'before and after' presentation purposes, make a copy of the current chart and rearrange it based on points that would help improve the process if they were located at different points in each process. This should include any additional resources added, as well as any new dependencies. Creating a visual at this stage will help you get stakeholders involved in your newly streamlined processes and ensure there are no remaining gaps in your documentation.
4. Execute and report
Activate your newly created process. Record each part of the process that improves or worsens after the intervention. This stage is like the first draft of an essay. It is not your final process, but it is to see how it develops in real-time. Does it match your predictions or does it go against them? This is the time to find out. Record and report every detail here to key stakeholders so you can make further adjustments based on their feedback.
5. Automate and document
No process works better when it is constantly modified and revised. So now that you've got your new process up and running at optimal levels, let it run its course and see how much better worker output has come. Document all your findings and store them in a repository that you can easily share with key stakeholders and refer back to at a future date.
Digital tools that can help you
Some digital tools that help outline your processes are:
Draw.io: It is an interesting web application that is of great help for making diagrams such as UML, flowcharts, BPMN diagrams, creating mockups, without the need to install anything on the PC. It is a very good alternative to paid and free desktop software.
Mindomo: It is an online collaborative mind mapping, concept mapping, and idea organizing software for visualizing and organizing information. A freemium software that offers its basic services for free, while charging for premium features. The free version has a limit of three mind maps and disabled premium features such as audio/video upload, PDF download, PowerPoint and Excel, and password protection. The software can be used from any standard web browser or by installing the free app for desktop, iPad, and Android.
Bizagi: It is an agile process platform that connects people, applications, devices, and information to deliver the engaging experience digital customers demand. It enables business and IT to come together and rapidly transform their organizations' digital operating models.
And then, to manage the work that comes out of them, some of the tools that can help you are:
Monday: monday.com is a business management tool to manage all parts of your business. Create structures to plan your team's workload, manage your projects, customers, and much more. It makes it fun and easy for everyone to collaborate, focus on what's important, and get more work done. It's the first visual tool of its kind and shows you exactly where things are at a glance. Finally, you can avoid painfully long email threads, cut down on meetings, among other tasks. This is the software that we use and if you are interested in trying it you can create an account here.
Asana: This software organizes all of your team's work (such as goals, calendars, files, notes, and more) in one place, allowing you to coordinate tasks and keep projects on track. Say goodbye to last-minute status meetings and emergencies, it's a joy to use a system that helps you and your team spend more time on the work you do best.
Always remember that no business process is optimized without a little help, be it input from stakeholders or online tools to organize them. Assure your stakeholders that the new processes will give them the competitive advantage they need.