I have a confession to make: I have a terrible habit of making to-do lists and then forgetting about them, resulting in multiple to-do lists full of the same things that never get done. I should probably start renaming my to-do lists to “Things I Should Do but Will Instead Just Repeatedly List Out.” How many things on your to-do list have been there for weeks or months? Maybe some can even be done in just a few minutes!
Your business processes should not fall under a list of things to be ignored and left alone, because you can’t reap the benefits of improving them if you’re not aware of them. It’s worth it to put the effort into assessing your operations and brainstorming ways to streamline business processes to make them more efficient and less costly, and uncovering bottlenecks is sort of like playing detective…so…fun right? Sort of? Moving on to Step 1.
Step 1: Figure out which processes are giving your department the most problems. Sometimes it doesn’t take much looking to find the bump in the road, but a good question to ask is “Which ones are causing the most stress among employees?”. That’s typically a pretty good indicator of where the biggest issues lie.
Step 2: Find the exact problem area within those stressful processes. Many times, bottlenecks occur around decision-making parts of your operations – for example, invoice approvals. Most of the workflow may be moving along just fine, except there’s only one employees who has the authority to approve all of your organization’s invoices, resulting in a pile-up and an overall slow process. Just this one step is making a difference on all the following ones. It’s silly how much power one step of a business process can have, but once you identify where exactly the problem is located, you can begin to make steps towards higher business process efficiency.
Step 3: Figure out why these bottlenecks are occurring. Are there too many invoices for one person to approve? Are they ill-equipped to complete that task due to slow software or some other reason? You may have to work your way backwards a bit to find the root cause of the problem, and there may be more than one bottleneck in a process. If that’s the case, it’s more beneficial to fix the largest one first, or else the rest of the process may not be affected by your changes.
Step 4: This is the most rewarding – this is where you get to fix the issue. Sometimes, the problem might be easy to fix. Maybe only certain invoices need to be approved instead of all of them. Other times, the most effective solution, which might be implementing accounts payable automation for example, may necessitate some outside help. Content management and business process automation are both highly effective business process solutions that can make a huge difference in the efficiency of your operations and can be scaled and fitted to your needs. If your problem isn’t easily fixable, this may be your next step.
The most important part is that you make an effort to be aware of opportunities for business process improvement and then take action, as that can benefit your organization in a plethora of ways, from reduced costs to increased productivity to simply less stress and a healthier work environment. Invest in a little business process analysis and respond to findings that are less than ideal. In the end, it’s not always easier to keep processes the way they are.
For more information on how business process automation and content management can make a difference in your organization, download our Seminole County Case Study below.