Business Process Improvement

Business Process Improvement

Business Process Improvement Jonathan Poland

Business process improvement involves identifying and implementing changes to processes in order to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. It involves regularly analyzing, measuring, and modifying processes in order to find and implement more effective ways of completing tasks, with the goal of achieving superior results. The following are illustrative examples of business process improvement.

Efficiency

A data center is running into power limits that prevent it from selling more services. They develop the capability to measure power usage at the machine level. This allows for a monthly process of investigating power consumption. Each month they discover power usage situations that can be corrected such as a customer that is violating their terms of service by mining cryptocurrency and consuming a large amount of power.

Bottlenecks

A government issues passports in 8 weeks with 6 weeks consumed by a security process. This process is resource intensive and handled by an organization that tends to take its time. In order to improve the process, the security process is skipped for straightforward renewals whereby the security process is extremely unlikely to identify any problems. This reduces the workload of the security process, improving their performance to 2 weeks. The government is now able to issue passports in 2-4 weeks.

Productivity

A banking call center handles several different types of requests including market trades, transaction inquiries, applications for products and general inquiries. As the bank offers a broad range of services, these requests can be quite time consuming for agents who aren’t familiar with a product or procedure. The bank finds it can improve productivity by having agents specialize in a particular type of request. For example, an agent who handles nothing but transaction inquiries may become extremely productive. This can be measured with average call time and customer satisfaction.

Quality

A chef improves a process for preparing a large number of entrees at the same time. The original process involved adding cold ingredients to a hot dish as the last step. This often allowed the dish to become too cold. The chef reverses the process to add the hot item as the last step to ensure dishes go out hot.

Performance

A manufacturer improves the throughput of a production line by adopting a cell production method that has teams compete at each stage to be the most productive with rewards for performance.

Customer Experience

A company removes the requirement for customers to print up a return slip with a returned item. This requires a system of scanning the item’s serial number and tracking that back to the order. This makes returns much easier for customers, particularly if they don’t have a printer.

Health & Safety

Before surgery, a hospital uses ink to color and mark the correct area of the procedure. This involves a process of multiple confirmations, including confirming with the patient themselves if possible. This avoids a surgery on the wrong area of the body such as the wrong arm or leg.

Risk Management

A bank implements system checks and a process of approvals to submit stock orders that look incorrect or unusual. For example, an order that is too far from the current market price needs a confirmation and/or approvals depending on the amount of the order.

Resilience

An airline runs a backup of its core systems at a hot site that is typically unused. They develop processes for switching over to the hot site in the case of a major system failure. They also develop processes for maintaining the hot site such that risky new releases aren’t launched to the site for 12 hours.

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