Your business process is how you get from Point A to Point B to create and deliver what you’ve promised your customers. Is the path your company takes as streamlined as possible, or do your employees unnecessarily add steps or duplicate their efforts along the way?
We can help you streamline your business process by analyzing your path from beginning to end, preparing process maps and a report, and meeting with your team to review our findings and come up with solutions that optimize the overall process.
Every business sells, produces, and delivers a product or service to its clients, and each company’s business process includes the unique steps taken to do this. Even if two businesses are selling exactly the same product or service, their business processes won’t be exactly the same.
Processes are developed in response to demands imposed by clients, internal management, or government and other oversight agencies. Within these overall processes, the company’s divisions and departments have sub-processes that are part of the overall path to the endpoint.
Most employees complete their part of the process to the best of their abilities. This is called local optimization, and it often contributes to inefficiencies in the overall process.
Inefficiencies are introduced because employees may not be aware of how their actions impact downstream processes. Each person may do the best possible job within their area of responsibility without understanding what happened before and what needs to happen after work leaves their hands.
Here are two examples of how doing your best can cause process problems.
Problem: Sales reported at the weekly management meetings always exceeded sales reported from the system at month end. We verified that the month end reports from the system were correct. Why the mis-match?
What was happening? During our process improvement project interviews, we learned that the company rewarded its employees for the number of sales as counted at the end of the month.
Sales meetings were held weekly, and assumption was that if 10 new sales were reported each week, there would be 40 new sales at the end of the month.
When we asked how managers got the number they reported in the weekly sales meetings, we found out that some were not using system reports; they were talking to the salespeople.
When salespeople provided managers with their weekly counts, sometimes they included sales that were not in the system yet.
Why weren’t sales entered into the system? It took over an hour, and about 50% of the sales fell through. Some salespeople felt it was a waste of time to enter a sale that they would later have to cancel. Because of this, some sales verbally reported to a manager for the weekly meeting were never entered into the system.
Other salespeople were anxious to get every one of their sales into the system, so they entered them as the sale was complete, but they did not always enter cancellations promptly; salespeople are optimistic, so they hoped they could turn the sale around.
Because everyone knew that employees were rewarded for sales at month end, the day before the end of the month, new sales were entered into the system, and when applicable, they cancelled sales previously entered.
The end of the month numbers were correct, and the weekly ones were overly optimistic. With the current process, sales reported in weekly meetings were never going to sum to the total sales at the end of the month.
Solution: When we reviewed the process maps and our findings with the team (all interviewees), it became clear that with the reward system, employees were highly motivated to enter sales at the end of the month; however, there was little incentive to enter sales or cancellations throughout the month. The system was accurately reporting the information entered, but the information in the system didn’t match what was happening in real life.
What looked like a report problem was really a process issue. Investing in an analysis of the process and focusing on improving it resulted in more accurate information about actual sales and ultimately reduced the cancellation rate.
Problem: A manufacturer took 90+ days to provide clients with an estimate to build a new product. By taking so long to create a price quote, the company was losing orders for existing products along with new opportunities, as frustrated customers selected new manufacturers for all their items.
What was happening? Before DragonPoint began conducting interviews with the employees involved in the process, management provided an overview of how requests for new product pricing were handled. Here are the steps they defined.
After conducting interviews, our DragonPoint team prepared process maps showing what was happening, documented our findings, and facilitated a team meeting to review our results.
Once everyone had a shared understanding of how the process was (or was not!) working, the team identified solutions.
With the changes implemented, the new product process was immediately reduced to 30 days or less, and the person who now owns the process continues to make improvements.
Often business problems are not caused by a lack of employee motivation, knowledge, or data. Sometimes each department is doing outstanding work within their own silo without understanding how they fit into the overall process.
Maybe your business has accurate sales numbers and doesn’t take 90 days to price a new product, but every business has processes that can be improved.
Sometimes people will try to convince you that software solves business process issues. Don’t listen to them. The best software in the world can’t fix broken processes, and the wrong software makes bad processes worse.
Business process improvement is independent of computer software. If you analyze and improve your business processes before you buy software, you’ll have a clearer picture of your requirements, and you’ll end up with a solution that fits your company’s needs.
At DragonPoint, we have used our business process improvement methodology to facilitate more than 50 process improvement projects here in Florida, throughout the country, and around the world. We’ve worked with a variety of transportation, manufacturing, construction, medical, and service clients to streamline and optimize their business processes.
At DragonPoint, we love solving problems. Call us at 321-631-0657 to find out more about how your company can use DragonPoint’s process improvement expertise to solve your business problems.
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