In 5 steps to Process Optimization
External as well as internal factors are forcing companies to act more than ever: Due to increasing competitive pressure, constantly changing market requirements and demographic change, process optimization is becoming increasingly important. With its help, you can uncover optimization potentials in your existing processes and reduce the error rate, throughput times and costs of your processes to a minimum.
What is Process Optimization?
With workflow optimization, you improve and standardize existing processes in your company. The task of procedure optimization is to analyze and document workflows and thus uncover weaknesses and improve workflows. Process optimization is a continuous process and not a one-off action, because even processes that have already been optimized must be adapted to new conditions again and again. For this reason, process optimization should be seen as a sustainable iterative task of the company in order to act more and more effectively and efficiently in the long term and thus be able to keep up with the competition. Process thinking and process optimization is therefore an indispensable part of any modern business management.
Why now is the time to optimize your processes
Your processes no longer run as smoothly as they used to? On closer inspection, you find errors and the entire process seems too complex? Do you find it difficult to find the right approach to optimize your processes? Then you have come to the right place!
Companies that continuously optimize their processes are equipped to deal with the ever-changing internal and external influencing factors. They make data-based decisions and are thus able to selectively eliminate weak points in their processes and make them more cost- and resource-efficient.
How is business activity optimization performed?
Process optimization is about evaluating the quality and performance of the processes described. This is done by introducing suitable parameters, the so-called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The obtained process description allows you to create a process map of your company, which serves as a prerequisite for further optimizations.
1. Analyze your workflows
During process analysis you model your current activities and identify weaknesses and potential improvements in your business operations. You can get an overview of your recurring workflows with the help of a process directory. When creating your process map you should ask yourself the following questions: Which processes and steps are dependent on each other? Which activities have to be connected in series and which can run simultaneously? Where can weaknesses, bottlenecks and redundancies be identified?
2. Model your procedures
Based on the results of the process analysis, you model your business operations in such a way that they produce the highest possible outcome. Indicators such as lead times, error susceptibility, process costs, bottlenecks and quality standards should be taken into account. With the help of a graphical notation such as BPMN 2.0, procedures and workflows can be visually represented. By mapping your end-2-end processes, you gain a better understanding of how your business activities work, enabling inefficiencies to be detected and eliminated faster. In order to represent key elements within a process model, process modeling uses unique worklfow modeling symbols. Special process modeling tools such as BIC Process Design simplify the documentation of optimized workflows and professionalize process management.
3. Carry out a data analysis (with the help of process simulation)
The inventory is followed by the creation of a solid database. Here you record the performance of the process at the beginning (current state) and after the optimization. You optimize your workflows until each process has reached its optimal state and the best possible performance (target state). To evaluate as-is and target process structures, it is useful to calculate KPIs such as average throughput times and procedure costs. The simulation function in BIC Process Design allows you to simulate processes and analyze different variants. This way you know in advance what impact certain changes will have on your existing activities without using real resources. This is also about uncovering hidden potentials in your workflows and how to integrate them into your optimized processes.
These questions can help you to critically question your business operations:
- How long does the process take? Is the timeframe appropriate? Is the process slower or faster than expected?
- Are there unclear or confusing process steps that cause users to skip or perform certain sub-tasks incorrectly?
- Are there unnecessary duplications in the respective workflow?
- Do problems arise in continuing the operations? For instance, can participants not continue working as long as another participant has not completed his or her tasks?
- Can the process be automated using a BPM tool?
4. Implement the improved workflow
The following steps are recommended for the practical implementation of the new operation:
- Give the procedure a distinct name.
- Name responsible persons, who have a role in the process.
- Describe the initial situation and, if necessary, the intermediate event as well as the final event.
- Specify the objective of the optimization.
- Identify a process owner to implement the workflow.
- Document which resources (for example time, budget) are available.
- If necessary, anchor process-related documents such as guidelines and standards directly to the process model to make them accessible to all process participants.
- For communication it is suitable to set up a process portal. Here employees can find all business activities and valid documents in one place.
5. Improve your business activities continuously
Just like your company, business operations are subject to constant change. A continuous improvement process is therefore essential to master new challenges in the future.
- Operate Change Management
In the course of digitalization, customer habits change just as quickly as business models and market structures. To meet new conditions, your company needs the ability to adapt flexibly to new environmental situations. Changes thus become a success factor and business process management a continuous challenge. This is important, because if you want to keep up with the competition, you should not close yourself to new tasks.
- Improve processes iteratively
The implementation of a new procedure does not always succeed immediately. Validation usually requires several passes. To understand which processes are already working well and which are not yet running ideally, it is important to collect data again after each run. This data flows into the next loop until the business activity is optimally controlled.
- Keep an eye on your processes
Since the BPM cycle is a recurring process, it is necessary to adapt your optimized operations to new conditions on a regular basis. Thus, your target process becomes a new as-is process, which then runs through the entire cycle again. The workflows should therefore be reviewed at regular intervals as part of a continuous improvement process.
Methods of process optimization
Lean management is a management philosophy of continuous process optimization that encompasses the efficient design of the entire value chain. Lean management is about the consistent avoidance of wasted time and resources. This means a lean organizational structure in which workflows are optimally coordinated. The analysis takes a closer look at two perspectives: One is that of the customer with his demands for availability, price, quality and individuality, and the other is that of the company with its striving for profitability and competitiveness.
Six Sigma describes a quality objective that is applied both in the context of quality management and in process optimization. The focus is not only on improving quality, but also on increasing company results and customer benefit. The efficiency of the processes is made visible by means of quantifiable indicators. The Six Sigma method combines the steps of definition, measurement, analysis, improvement and control.
- Definition: Describe the problem, the improvement measure, the possibility for improvement, the project objectives and the customer requirements.
- Measure: Measure the performance of your activities using process management tools such as BIC Process Design or BIC Process Mining.
- Analysis: Perform a process analysis to identify the causes of discrepancies and poor performance, such as defects.
- Improvement: Optimize the procedure by eliminating the causes of weaknesses.
- Control: The optimized process is then checked regularly.
Kaizen is a procedure from the Japanese management technique and means as much as "change for the better". This procedure represents a continuous improvement process that involves the gradual improvement and refinement of business operations. Kaizen aims to improve all business activities – from employee satisfaction to improving market positioning. The special feature of this method is that employees of all levels are involved. The idea of optimization is seen as a central part of the corporate culture.
What advantages do you gain by improving your business operations?
Overall reduction of costs
Shortening the lead time
Reduction of processing times
Improvement in communication
Reduction of the error rate
Reduction of planning times
Increasing the competitive position
Streamlining of workflows
Our modeling and mining tools help you to perform systematic process optimization
Control your processes professionally and easily with BIC Process Design
Implement a process management software with BIC Process Design, which supports you in modeling, analyzing, optimizing, communicating and controlling your business procedures.
With BIC Process Mining you take optimization measures based on real-time data
With BIC Process Mining, you can uncover previously hidden inefficiencies in your IT-supported processes and thus initiate targeted optimization measures that help you achieve enormous transparency and cost savings.
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