You get new process improvement ideas all of the time. Maybe you know how to move the paper trail along faster through the office, or you get an idea on how to meet growing customer requirements, or you’ve solved how to accomplish more with the same budget.
These ideas might come to you while in a meeting, a discussion or inconveniently in the middle of another assignment. You might even jot the idea down to save it for later. The question is: How do you take this organizational process improvement idea from paper to full execution?
Define Your Challenge … And Success
You first must take the time to detail and define your operational process improvement challenge. The challenge is likely something your business, agency or bank has dealt with for some time, so it’s important to gather and delineate every detail (and not just make gut-level assumptions).
For example, if a process is taking too long, be sure to discover what step in the process is slowing the cycle down, or who or what is the cause of the problem.
Defining your problem is only half of the task, though. You must also define your success: Once improved, how long should your process be taking? At the end of your agency or business process improvement, what results should you see?
Harness Your Team … And Process Improvement Tools
Next, you need to gather everyone involved in the process to discuss and document how the current process works. You have a few options on how to capture this documentation: You could either conduct a process mapping exercise or use a Lean Six Sigma tool such as a SIPOC.
A SIPOC is a tool that documents the following six aspects of your process:
After your team has agreed on what the current process looks like, you should begin to parse out your process map and trim anything that is unnecessary, redundant, overburdened or outdated. Follow up on your ideas by validating trouble areas with direct observation or data collection.
Experiment With Solutions … And Update Accordingly
Once you’ve captured data that confirms or denies your suspicions, you should move into experimenting with possible solutions for your process improvement. If you are limited on time or resources to test a myriad of possibilities, try enacting a sensible solution and let it play out for a pre-determined period of time while you observe and collect data.
Review your data to determine if the process improvement was effective or if minor tweaks need to be made. Remember, without data analysis and frequent communication to the process owners, your efforts might be in vain: Proper data validation ensures that you won’t be conducting another organizational process improvement push all over again.
Once your process improvement solution is underway and working as planned, update your training materials, policies and group communications accordingly.
So, the next time you jot down an idea for an operational process improvement, don’t let it stay as just an idea on paper. Instead, enact it and save your organization time, money and effort by taking your idea from paper to execution.
If you’re looking for data management that helps you understand and execute better organizational process improvements, click below to download a free guide from Big Sky Associates and learn to conduct your data analysis with techniques that drive success.