How to identify if your processes need a review?

Business Transformation & Process Optimisation are not just scary buzz words, they are the important change that has impacted most of the business world off late. Changes due to technology, speed of competitive responsiveness and increasingly tight customer demands, have all made efficient business practices a necessity.

While it may be easier for the bigger companies to engage in Transformation-type activities, and I say this with a grain of salt because they usually have the capital to buy the expertise to implement a business transformation successfully, the SME businesses usually lag behind. And they do this for a number of reasons, namely lack of funds, lack of awareness or lack of time, particularly where businesses already have limited resources to manage the existing workload.

So, how do you know if your business practices (systems and processes) need to be reviewed? It starts, firstly, with you – as the Business Leader – taking the time to pause and reflect.

Do you still use systems that are/or will soon be outdated?

I’ve worked with a few insurance and healthcare companies to know how much they still love their paper filing and legacy systems. The problem with both of these is:

(1)   they are too hard to maintain, particularly as the new breed of software & web developers entering the workforce increases, the knowledge of old systems diminishes. They will, therefore, either cost a lot of money to maintain or the skillset required will eventually be vanish

(2)   They make audit trails a nightmare

(3)   They are time & effort consuming & likely to offer less functionality when compared to newer technology & automated processing

Are you creating process waste?

And I don’t just mean waste in terms of an unfit product that can’t be retailed, I mean wastage in terms of resources, and time taken to rework the mistake over & over again, hoping for a better outcome.

What are you doing manually that can be automated?

Although it is highly unlikely that you can replace your entire workforce with robots, not yet anyway, chances are there is a lot you can already automate. Examples where automation can be applied:

  • Client appointment & payment reminders
  • Responding to basic customer queries using technology such as Chatbots
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Productivity Reporting
  • Monthly invoice statements

Word of Caution though – As a seasoned Project Manager I can tell you that the term “process automation” can often be perceived as negative as staff tend to think that their jobs may be in danger. As a Business Leader you will have the responsibility to make sure your staff feel secure and heard, or their buy-in to change will be in jeopardy.

Although it may be daunting for small business owners to consider process optimisation due to cost & effort, you need to consider that the opportunity cost of constant process rework, the associated manual labour costs and delayed delivery times will be higher. So make sure you reduce the risk and engage experts to get the right advice and implementation support.