Business Process Optimization (BPO) is an ongoing process aiming to improve efficiency and effectiveness, something that no business can ever have too much of.
Each and every process can be optimized to identify and remove possible bottlenecks. BPO should be designed to eliminate activities that don’t add value to the customer or to the business itself, to reduce cost, promote efficient use of resources and increase employee productivity. That is why BPO should become part of a regular procedure in every business.
1. Analyzing and Documenting Current Processes
The first step is to formally register current processes, so that you can deeply understand how your business is running on a day-to-day basis. This step is crucial to create benchmarks for improvement, as well as to identify potential weak spots.
Identify and document each aspect of every ongoing process in the business: how long it takes, what resources it requires, departments and employees involved, etc. The process is time and energy consuming but crucial in order to point out areas for improvement. It also creates useful blueprints that can later be used for defining standard operating procedures or employee training.
2. Identifying Areas for Improvement and Defining Success
Once the data is collected, it is time to do in-depth analysis and point out processes that will benefit the most from being optimized. By prioritizing you avoid the risk of becoming overwhelmed with the sheer volume of processes and work to be done around them. The criteria for prioritization can be set around how frequently the process is being used, the highest cost or highest ROI, the processes that are most time consuming, etc.
This is also a good opportunity to define how improvement will be measured, i.e. which units for tracking and measurement will be used (time spent performing a task, cost, profitability, etc.). Once these key performance indicators are set, you will need to define current values for the prioritized tasks and set goals for each one.
3. Create a Phased Implementation Plan
After comparing the current state of the prioritized processes with the desired outcome, you will be able to map out a plan of action on how to achieve the desired improvements. Gaps between the current and the future state should be highlighted to define action steps on how to overcome them. This process also includes defining expectations for team members that are part of the process in question.
One way to achieve this successfully is the DevOps model that joins together operations and development teams. The concept allows businesses to evolve much faster than when relying on traditional management by creating synchronisation across the entire product (or service) development lifecycle.
By removing traditional barriers between the development and operations departments, teams start sharing responsibilities and improving communication, which further results in increased productivity and improved performance.
4. Tracking and Analyzing Improvements
The final step of BPO is going back to the beginning. Every process that is being optimized should also be continuously tracked and regularly analyzed against its own benchmarks. That is the recipe for ongoing optimization of every aspect of an organization.
Investing Time and Resources into Process Optimization
It is true that BPO occupies time, resources and employees’ attention, making it a costly process for an organization. But its benefits are extensive, stretching over increased performance, improved efficiency, reduced costs and better overall functioning of a team. By implementing the steps above you can greatly increase the ROI of your processes. Plus, once the optimization systems are set up, it takes less and less time and effort to keep them running.