Effective processes are how businesses develop and grow. Without these, it makes it difficult for you to make improvements and in turn make your business more successful. Managing processes and identifying what is and isn’t working quite right can be a time-consuming process depending on the methods used, but a necessary one. We have listed some ways in which you can identify bottlenecks within your business process effectively and how to use this information to make improvements.
Create Solid Business Goals
In order to overcome any issues in terms of business process or business in general – you should make sure that you have clear identified goals. In order to do this, it’s a good idea to have a meeting with the management team in your company and discuss what these should be. Your business goals should be able to be summarized on a one-page document. Normally businesses use SMART objectives. This stands for:
- Specific – clear idea of what you want to achieve
- Measurable – the goal should be measured, to help you identify whether or not you have achieved it
- Achievable – make sure you have the cash and the level of resources needed to complete it
- Relevant – it needs to be related to the goals you want to achieve. For example, increasing your profit margins, increasing your workforce, or pushing your brand out there
- Timely – there should be a realistic timescale as to when you want to achieve your goal by
Once these clear objectives are set, it will allow you to evaluate your processes properly.
Use Kanban Boards
Have you ever heard of Kanban before? You may want to read this definition of Kanban by Kanbanize, for more in-depth information, but essentially you can outline your process on Kanban board cards which gives you a visual workflow process. Here you can see all the different stages of the specific process you are tracking. Within that, you can add limits to specific users too. This means that you can keep your key members of staff being torn away from their work and being distracted with other tasks by setting limits to the number of cards they have. This means that they can really focus on the elements of the business you need them to. By making sure you have every stage of your process outlined on your Kanban boards at a granular level, you will be able to spot any bottlenecks easily. It’s simple, if there is more going into one section than going out, that needs to be resolved. By pinpointing the exact area, this allows you to implement new improvements to this very specific area of the process.
Staff appraisals are a great way to identify issues with your business process. In a busy working day – it can be difficult to find the time to speak to individual employees about their role and responsibilities in the company. By undertaking regular staff appraisals – this gives you time dedicated to that employee, to find out about their individual experience in the workplace and where they fit. Here you will be able to uncover areas that they may feel that they need further development – so you can make sure that they are trained effectively in order to undertake their tasks either internally or externally. You will also find out if there are any specific interests or skills that aren’t being used within the business currently that could be of use to you. It can also be difficult from a management level to be fully aware of everything that goes on in the day to day running of the company depending on its size or scale. Appraisals allows for feedback from the employees, where they can let you know if there’s anything they think that would improve processes moving forward that you may not have thought of.
Don’t just Resolve Problems – Look for Opportunities
Resolving issues within processes is all well and good, but it’s important that you also look for opportunities along the way. Identifying these key points could actually trigger a much bigger change within your business for better outcomes. Areas where you could be looking and creating new opportunities for include: better customer service, improved collaboration and communication between team members and improving the relationship between management and other team members. Developing upon these opportunities will improve the overall success of your business.
Keep Measuring and Refining
There is always room for improvement. Just because you have resolved a specific issue which has your process working better in that instance, it doesn’t mean that will always be the case. It’s important that you keep on top of processes on a regular basis. As your business grows things will change, so it’s essential that you keep monitoring and reviewing your processes to ensure they are still effective as they once were and fix as you go. That’s why something like Kanban boards can be incredibly useful. They are easy to modify when changes are made and allow for continuous evaluation. They are great tools to use to be in-keeping with business growth.
Have a Contingency Plan
When evaluating and resolving processes you also need to think about what happens if things aren’t running as they normally would. For example – will things still run as smoothly if someone is on holiday for 2 weeks, or if they have maternity/paternity leave scheduled in? These are common things that companies can forget when creating and evaluating processes. As well as identifying problems and resolving them, you also need to be on the lookout for potential problems that may not have arisen yet but could do. That way you are taking preventative measures and have everything covered no matter who is on holiday. We firmly believe in the phrase “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail”.
Review your Goals and Objectives
As your business grows and evolves, your goals will change. If not already in place, it’s always recommended that you have regular review meetings to not only evaluate whether t hey have been met or not – but whether these should be changed to either be more realistic – or to coincide with business growth. It could be that you have decided to introduce a brand-new product or service, or that you have new departments to think of, or it could be that you want to eliminate a part of your business all-together. Whatever the change may be, it’s important that you review your goals and objectives as these come along and implement the appropriate processes.
Hopefully now you have some more information as to how you can identify problems in processes within your business, and some useful tools that will allow you to do this. Make sure you have clear goals, have your processes outlined clearly on Kanban boards or similar software, speak to your staff – and of course look out for problems that could arise, not only ones that are currently occurring. Just like with anything, there is always room for improvement when it comes to running your business.