Process improvement initiatives tended to be overlooked during normal times, or the prepandemic business era, as other concerns took precedence. But with the “new normal” upon us all, perhaps it is worth taking a second look, to see what benefits we might gain.
We asked our resource person on process management, Michael Sibayan, to give us his insights and tips. Businesses can start with these basic approaches in process improvement:
Identify and map your “core” and “supporting” processes NOW
Whether you’ve done this step in the past, you would need to do so again, considering that many processes have migrated online. You have to identify which activities and outputs are touch points for your main customers that dictates satisfaction or dissatisfaction for the products or services that you are offering. For the purpose of process improvement, you need to document the “as is” and then recalibrate and plan the “should be” process.
Depending on your business type and target customers, core and supporting processes differ. If you are a fast-food chain, your core processes focus on your main counter where the ordering, paying and fulfilling of the orders take place. Meanwhile the accounting, IT, marketing and human resources serve as your departments providing back office support.
Identify nonvalue added steps and practices that only contribute to the cost and not to customer satisfaction
In the “Lean Methodology,” nonvalue added steps or activities are classified as wastes or in Japanese, “muda.” The Lean Methodology classifies eight types of wastes that companies normally have in their operation. You may be surprised to learn that more than 50 percent of your activities may fall under the “nonvalue added” category.
With your experience during this quarantine period, you might want to ask yourself: Did I still manage to complete my tasks without printing a single document? Was I forced to complete a transaction with limited steps compared to the previous practice before the quarantine?
Once all wastes are identified, revise or eliminate them
Decide if some, or better all, identified wastes can be eliminated from the process. With the process wastes out of the picture, companies can start to be flexible in providing quality products and services to its customers. Flexibility is not only limited to the time it takes to deliver the products/services but flexibility to adapt to the demands and buying capability of the customers as companies can manage their prices given the reduced operating costs in producing its outputs.