A Little-Known Secret About Process Improvement
By Geniene B. Scherer, CPA
Change is a constant in life. In the best-case scenario, we know it’s going to happen, and we prepare for it. But when change happens overnight, it can feel like getting hit by a ton of bricks.
So, what can you do to jumpstart your organization’s performance (and ultimately its profitability) in the face of uncertainty? Taking a look at your processes—the way you get things done—can help. Now is the time to understand the how and why behind them, to uncover systems that aren’t working, and to take steps toward making them better. The good news is, even a small improvement can make a big difference.
At AEM, we do this for our clients through what’s called a ProEval Operational Review. Here are five ways evaluating your processes could help your business or organization thrive in the short and long term.
1. Uncover opportunities for improvement.
The first step in evaluating your processes is to focus on documentation and mapping. This lets you see how transactions and data are flowing through your organization. With a visual representation of your processes, you can easily determine where roadblocks exist and come up with a plan to remove them.
2. Better respond to and manage change.
Process documentation isn’t only about creating efficiencies; it’s also about mitigating risk. Recording the steps of essential processes means you won’t be left scrambling if your staff or work environment were to change. Instead, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, as well as the person or people responsible for doing it.
3. Empower team members to do what they were hired to do.
A comprehensive process evaluation involves analyzing your organization’s workflow to uncover waste and redundancies in your processes. Getting a clear picture of who’s doing what and how can be eye-opening. By implementing leaner, more controlled processes in place of a clunky workflow, you can free your team members to focus on the work that matters most.
4. Shift operations quickly.
At AEM, our ProEval approach to process improvement incorporates Lean methodologies, including Kaizen. The Kaizen approach is about creating continuous improvement in small steps. When focused on one area of your operations, it can quickly yield significant results. This approach allows you to move forward with continuous improvement while also managing your resource commitment and budget.
5. Realize cost savings.
It’s not uncommon for organizations to accumulate redundant software applications across departments. The key is to find out what is being used, why it’s being used, and where overlaps exist. For example, by assessing and inventorying one organization’s software, we were able to reduce the number of similar software it needed from eight to one. Streamlining software applications reduces cost, giving you another way to enhance your bottom line.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
You can improve your processes in the same way—little by little. Sometimes this makes more sense for your organization than a full overhaul. It all depends on your current situation and your plans for the future. The most important thing is to get started. The sooner you can integrate efficiency into your processes, the more quickly your organization will be able to adapt to what’s next.
What’s possible for your organization?
Our consulting team is ready to develop a process improvement solution that meets you where you are—and guides you to where you want to go. If you’re ready to explore your options, contact us today.
Geniene Scherer, CPA, is a Senior Manager in our Business Advisory segment. She specializes in serving organizations by leading finance, professional services and project teams.
You can reach Geniene at 952.935.6893 or click here to contact her via email.
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