5 Internal Process Improvement Strategies For Increased Efficiency
Improving your company’s internal processes is a powerful way to boost performance and increase customer satisfaction.
As businesses grow, processes become more complex − involving more people, systems, and data. This often leads to a loss of control, which can be costly and risky.
Internal process improvement is often overlooked as a powerful business tool to improve a company’s performance and competitive advantage. It is one of the best ways to continue growing and stay competitive.
What is an internal process?
An internal process or business process can be defined as the steps the members of a specific team take in the everyday execution of their jobs.
These can range from the simple (eg, how to manage a purchase order or qualify a sales lead) to the complex (eg, how to abide by federal insurance regulations or build the heat shield on a rocket). Either way, steps exist for a reason, and when your employees or coworkers fail to follow procedure, performance suffers.
Why is process improvement important?
When processes work well, they can significantly improve efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction. When processes don't work well, however, it leads to a host of problems – from unproductive staff to unintentional procedural mistakes to increased costs.
Processes can decay over time, and changes in the business environment − like new technologies or new competitors − naturally have an impact, too. In order to stay agile and competitive, businesses need to periodically reevaluate and improve the way they operate.
5 Internal Process Improvement Strategies For Increased Efficiency
1. Define and map business processes clearly
It sounds obvious, but many businesses don’t have clear and standardized processes mapped out. This is where it all starts. Clear internal processes lay the foundation for how work gets done and provide clarity about what is expected from every employee. This includes clear and understandable job descriptions. This not only improves individual accountability but also boosts the overall efficiency of the team.
It is therefore important to document each step – for example by using tools such as no-code interactive decision trees which help process managers to map out standard operating procedures and give them an instant overview of the process, particularly if many people are involved.
But it doesn’t stop there. Even the best plans stop working after a while and if you’re running into bottlenecks or noticing an increase in frustration among staff or more customer complaints, it may be time to review your existing internal processes. For the same reason it is important to choose a tool that allows you to push live instant changes and processes to remain up to date in a rapidly evolving business environment.
2. Understand and define the scope or process to improve
When setting an effective process improvement strategy it is useful to define the scope of the process. Set clear, achievable goals which are directly related to your overall business goals. Start with processes related to core goals such as reducing cost and improving customer satisfaction.
Trying to change everything at the same time is not a good idea – and setting specific goals related to core business areas will help to make the task more manageable. It also makes it easier to measure the effectiveness of the improvement efforts.
Business process improvement is an ongoing process and is never done! Don’t be afraid to start again if you find a better way or if the process turns out to be flawed.
3. Involve the right people
As the organization grows, processes usually span multiple teams. It’s a good idea to appoint senior managers as project managers to “own” the process and to be responsible for defining and monitoring the process, as well as holding people accountable.
When reviewing processes, be sure to involve employees in the process as they will have a thorough understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Empower team members to suggest improvements. This will help maintain an open environment that’s conducive to innovation and growth. When employees are involved in process improvements, they are less likely to resist change.
4. Reflect the existing knowledge base
When redefining processes, it’s important to capture and call-out the key changes and to maintain a central database of all knowledge. That way, the team can self-serve key information without the need to pull away experts involved in more valuable work.
A central knowledge base lends itself to capturing information that may typically be “trapped” in these experts’ heads and transforming it into useful interactive FAQs to streamline processes. Look for a tool that facilitates easy changes to keep your knowledge base up to date – for example using drag-and-drop technology.
5. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
One of the best ways to critically assess your company’s internal processes is to look at the steps needed to deliver a product or service from the customer’s point of view.
Sometimes looking at a process from the external perspective helps you notice where steps are being missed. For example, if a customer puts in a support ticket for a faulty product, they want to receive a response immediately − ideally informing them that their case has been received and is being investigated, and that the team will be reaching out to them within a certain timeframe. The customer then expects fast resolution.
What internal processes do you have in place to make that happen? Who receives the ticket and how will they process it? What steps can they go through to better understand the customer’s issue?
There are various ways of gathering customer insights on aspects of your internal process, including focus groups and by using technology. This usually brings fresh insights and could lead to innovative ways to speed up or streamline the process and boost customer service.
Choosing the right tools
When searching for the right software solution for improving internal processes and process management, you want maximum clarity with minimal effort.
Zingtree is a user-friendly, interactive decision tree solution that helps you build and deploy effective processes. Zingtree has helped to power the internal processes of over 700 organizations.
No coding is required, so anyone can implement Zingtree’s solutions without any IT expertise. Detailed analytics and reporting features also provide insights from your tools, which can help you better plan processes and understand where bottlenecks are and how to solve them.
Interested in learning more about implementing Zingtree in your organization? Request a demo today.