Steps for Improving Processes: Revolutionize the Workplace

What are processes?

Processes are a series of steps or actions to complete a task. For instance, when you want to cook a burger there’s a process for that. First, you get the meat out and form it into a patty. Next, you get the pan out and turn the stove on to the desired temperature. When the pan heats up you put the patty onto the pan. After a certain amount of time, you flip the burger to cook the other side. When the burger is cooked to the desired wellness, you turn the stove off. You then, get a bun out and put the cooked patty onto it. 

This is roughly the process of cooking a burger but I’m not sure if you noticed but there are a few inefficiencies in this process that could be improved upon. This is where managing and improving processes come into play. For instance, it takes a little while to warm up the pan so you should start that first. Then, while that’s warming up get the bun ready then patty the burger. Eliminating some of this wasted time will cut down the time it takes to cook your burger, making you a more efficient burger cooker. 

These same tactics explained in the previous example can be used to manage and improve processes not only in your professional world but can be used in your personal life as well. 

What are procedures?

Image of office space with the text policies & procedures for managing and improving processes.

Procedures are an official way of doing something like a process. They are guidelines that are used to help people get the job done. Typically these are written out and provided to all parties that do this action or process. Procedures can be extremely helpful in businesses or departments of any size.

Why are procedures important?

Properly utilizing processes and procedures has many benefits. Doing things the same way every time leads to less room for error, making things more efficient and predictable. Results are more consistent and have a higher chance of the desired outcome. Having procedures in place also requires less experience for someone to complete a task since everything is broken down into steps. Procedures also have less chance of confusion. Make your team more effective by easily creating some procedures using the steps below. 

Steps for Setting Up a Procedure for a Process

Image of gears representing the movement of processes.

Step 1: Understand the Process

The first step is reviewing and understanding the process. To do this you want to watch as many people doing the process as possible. Even if it’s something you do or have done in the past, it’s important to watch others doing it if possible. 

At this point, you need to be unbiased. Avoid trying to make any adjustments or have people do things differently. This stage is just for finding out the various steps of the process. Ask questions when needed from those completing the process. For instance, it may be necessary to ask why somebody did a step in a certain way.

Take notes during this stage. You should be recording how long each step takes each person to complete. Also, it’s important to record the order of the steps. Take note of any roadblocks like employees waiting on another department before they can complete their task or waiting on supervisor approval before moving on.

Step 2: Create the First Draft

Image of person creating a draft of a process.

Now that you have all the data it’s time to create your first draft of the process. In this stage, you want to write down all the steps it takes the workers to complete the task. Put them in the order of how the majority of the workers do it and put the average time of each step.

Step 3: Review and Eliminate Inefficiencies

Review the draft you created for wasted time or places where things can be done more efficiently. This could be something like doing step 1 on multiple products before moving on to step 2 or it may mean reordering the steps. Remember to weigh the cost of eliminating or changing a step. For example, if you eliminate a step for supervisor approval, how much will quality suffer?  

Step 4: Have Stakeholders Review

When I say stakeholders, I’m referring to the people that will perform this process the most. It’s always important to have as much input from those that will complete the task. They may see something you didn’t see. Once again it’s important to go into this step unbiasedly because these stakeholders typically have a wealth of knowledge and information when it comes to this process.

Step 5: Create Final Draft

Using all the information and feedback gathered from the stakeholders, create the final draft. This is the draft that should be ready to present to everybody else. This is the draft that should be free of errors and in a good step-by-step format that will be easy for others to read. 

Step 6: Present to Upper Management (if required)

This step depends on your position and the people you work for. If required, present the procedure to your boss. Be prepared at this stage to explain areas that have been improved and the need for this procedure.

Step 7: Present the Procedure to Stakeholders

Image of a person giving a presentation to stakeholders.

The next step is to present your new procedure to the employees that will be using it. Make sure they all understand it and reinforce it when necessary. At first, people may need you to help them through the process a few times. You may even have to demonstrate it for the group depending on the complexity. The process can be presented to each employee individually, through a memo, or in a group setting like a meeting. You have to determine which method is the best delivery method.

Step 8: Monitor For Improvements

Things do change in business. Technology gets better, employees change, the goals of the company change, and many other things can dictate the need for processes to change. This is why it’s important to monitor procedures for improvements or to see if they are even still valid.  

Tips For Managing Processes Effectively

steps for improving a process

1. Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your processes to ensure clarity and focus. Clearly defined goals provide a roadmap for success and help team members understand the desired outcomes, priorities, and expectations. Regularly review and update goals to ensure they remain relevant and aligned with the overall business objectives.

2. Document and Standardize Processes

Create detailed process documentation and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure consistency and efficiency in task execution. By standardizing processes, you can reduce errors, improve communication, and facilitate the onboarding of new team members. Regularly review and update documentation to reflect process improvements and changes in the organization’s needs.

3. Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly define and delegate roles and responsibilities to team members to promote accountability and ownership of tasks. This helps to ensure that everyone is aware of their specific duties and can focus on their areas of expertise. Regularly review and adjust roles and responsibilities as needed to accommodate changes in team dynamics or business priorities.

4. Establish Effective Communication Channels

Encourage open and transparent communication among team members to facilitate collaboration, information sharing, and problem-solving. Effective communication helps to build trust, reduce misunderstandings, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Utilize appropriate communication tools and platforms to support efficient information exchange and collaboration.

5. Monitor and Measure Performance

Regularly track and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of your processes and identify areas for improvement. Monitoring performance helps to ensure that processes are aligned with business objectives and provides valuable insights for continuous improvement. Regularly review and adjust KPIs to ensure they remain relevant and meaningful.

6. Implement Continuous Improvement

Adopt a continuous improvement mindset by regularly reviewing and refining processes to optimize efficiency and effectiveness. Encourage team members to identify and share opportunities for improvement, and implement changes based on data-driven insights. This proactive approach helps to ensure that processes remain agile and responsive to evolving business needs.

7. Prioritize and Manage Time Effectively

Use time management techniques, such as time blocking, prioritization, and delegation, to ensure tasks are completed efficiently and deadlines are met. Effective time management helps to reduce stress, improve productivity, and ensure that resources are allocated effectively. Regularly review and adjust priorities based on changing business needs and team capacity.

8. Leverage Technology and Automation

Utilize appropriate tools, software, and automation to streamline processes, reduce manual tasks, and increase productivity. Technology can help to improve communication, collaboration, and data analysis, enabling teams to work more efficiently and make better-informed decisions. Regularly assess and update technology solutions to ensure they continue to meet the needs of the organization.

9. Provide Training and Support

Offer ongoing training and support to team members to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their tasks effectively. Investing in professional development helps to improve employee engagement, reduce turnover, and ensure that teams can adapt to new challenges and technologies. Regularly assess training needs and provide targeted learning opportunities to close skill gaps.

10. Encourage Feedback and Collaboration

Foster a culture of open feedback and collaboration, allowing team members to share ideas, best practices, and lessons learned to continuously improve processes. Encouraging feedback helps to identify blind spots, uncover new opportunities, and build a stronger, more resilient team. Regularly solicit feedback from team members and involve them in decision-making processes to promote a sense of ownership and commitment.

Steps For Improving a Process

Monitor Processes

The first tip for improving processes is monitoring your processes. Always look for areas that can be improved. Make sure you take some time monitoring processes. Especially when you are new to the process. Don’t think there’s a problem every time there’s one little hiccup but be on the lookout for chronic roadblocks in processes.

Listen To Your Team

Image of a person holding up a sign saying speak more, listen less.

The people performing the process are the ones that typically have the best ideas to improve the process. They are the ones doing the process so they have first-hand knowledge. This knowledge is vital to changing for the better. As a bonus, if one of your team members helps come up with the idea for change, they will back it up with the rest of the team. 

Giving and getting feedback is huge in every aspect of leadership and management. This is where some of the most valuable guidance and mentorship happen. For some great tips on giving and receiving feedback click the link.

Know Team Capabilities

As your team changes and evolves, its capabilities will change. This could mean as your team becomes more experienced, they may become more capable. If you get more new people on your team they may become less capable. Your team’s capabilities may change the way you do things. Processes may need to be simplified or adjusted based on your team.

Stay Current With Technology

New technological advances are happening every day. Use this technology to your advantage when it comes to improving processes. Technology can be great for automating and streamlining processes. 

Eliminate Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks are areas of a process where everything slows down. For example, it may be employees waiting on the processing department to process orders before they can begin. Looking for ways to eliminate these bottlenecks can be a good way to keep your team productive.

Cut Out The Waste

Image of a pile of garbage.

Waste can be time or money because when it comes down to it time is money. In many processes, there is waste created at one point or another. This could be wasted time from a bottleneck or it could be a byproduct of a manufacturing process. Cutting out or at least minimizing the waste as much as possible is a great way to increase the business’s bottom line. 

Wrapping It Up

Processes are a very important aspect of any business. Refining, managing, and improving processes is a surefire way to add more productivity and profit to the business. 

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