You really don’t need wings and a halo to get your processes right.
No-one deliberately sets out to miss customer expectations. Yet many firms do just that. Why?
Oftentimes, it’s simply down to process and process management. Processes can be the last thing to receive attention– though the first reason you fail. They are the lifeblood of your organisation. When they work, you rarely notice. You will when they go wrong, though – when customers complain!
So you should review processes. Consider these ten issues:
1. Do managers spend too much time managing processes?
Are managers doing things that staff can? Delegate!
An insurance department had a growing backlog of claims. The manager controlled everything, although had competent staff. Effective delegation cleared the backlog within three weeks.
2. Are processes aligned to our business strategy?
If processes aren’t aligned with strategy, they can hinder your efficiency.
An insurer sold ecommerce products, in the same way as their offline products. Sales were sluggish, as responses and quotes were no faster.
3. Have process changed to meet different business structures?
Many businesses alter structures over time, perhaps amalgamating departments to save costs, without considering the consequences.
One firm merged administration departments to save costs. Politics meant the merger was postponed: processes were not agreed; work was erroneously passed between departments; and clients left.
4. Are any processes duplicated?
One client ran the same process eighteen times, taking three days each month to complete. An hour spent training people in mail-merge meant the process could be run overnight.
5. Can processes be automated?
Sometimes technology can do the job more efficiently.
A new CRM system workflow automated diary reminders, improving customer follow-up. A law firm recruiting fifty staff a year automated previously manual processes, making new entrants more productive, more quickly.
6. Do people repeat the job?
Do staff rework tasks that haven’t been done properly first time?
A client had new entrants trained by the last recruit, and suffered duplication, omission – and customer dissatisfaction.
7. Is everything necessary?
Manufacturing businesses use LEAN to identify waste – and so should professional and financial service firms.
A manager spent time compiling reports for an Executive Committee: the report was confusing, so the manager verbally reported, too. A more informative report was agreed, and sent directly to the individuals concerned.
8. Do staff have roles outside their expertise?
Business leaders spend time doing things they shouldn’t.
Except there can be opportunity cost. Wrong HR decisions can result in high Tribunal costs.
9. Do have a Procedures Manual?
If people don’t know what they should be doing, how will they do the job right? Quality is much easier with standardised procedures.
A client saw immediate benefits and fewer complaints through implementing ISO9001.
10. Are process costs too high?
It’s always worth benchmarking your costs. Cost management is important, especially today.
John has been leading change initiatives for more than twenty years, achieving success in making businesses more effective, and more profitable. He has significant experience in project, process and change management, where he has overseen significant profit improvement, reduced costs, implemented business change, and improved quality systems – especially where regulation and compliance are important. Connect with John on twitter: @johnwadeovc or visit http://www.oakviewconsulting.co.uk/