Process Improvement and Management: How to Improve Business Processes
always on the minds of business owners and management teams. According to a
case study written by Gary A. Rummler, founder of Rummler-Brache Group, to make
a significant difference in an organization's results, the current processes
must be identified and weaknesses addressed. Rummler paired up with Allan P.
Brache in 1991 and developed a model that defined the steps needed for running
a process improvement and management project. Follow these steps to address
your critical business issues:
1. Identify the Needed Improvements
key processes that need improvement is the initial stage. This can be a formal
or informal approach. The importance is in selecting the processes that have
the greatest impact on a competitive advantage or customer requirement.
2. Develop Objectives
objectives for the project based on the requirements of the process. The goal
of your objectives should be establishing control over the process.
3. Define the Project Team
When you are
selecting members for your project team, select those who are cross-trained.
Using cross-trained members ensures the quality of the analysis and commitment
It is important to
have a detailed document of the levels in your organization, process level, and
the team member or performer level. This "organization map" can then
be developed into a cross-functional process map for the process which you are
trying to improve.
5. Identify the Problem
problems in a process as "disconnections". "Disconnections"
are anything and everything that keeps your process from being efficient and
effective. When identifying where these weaknesses are categorize it into three
levels: organizational, process, and employee or performer.
6. Develop the Answers
concepts for all three levels where disconnections were identified. Prioritize
and categorize the main problems, then evaluate the solutions you developed. It
is important to also develop a cross-functional process for the changes that
7. Establish the Process
Begin your process
and your sub-process measures. Make sure that your process measures reflect the
objectives that you set for the project.
8. Execute the Plan
improvements and execute effectively. The use of this model is just as useful
for smaller processes as it is for more complex processes. The average time it
takes to successfully complete steps 4-7 is determined to be anywhere from
three days to three months. These time frames are primarily based on the
complexity of the process you are trying to implement. In addition to the
complexity, the extent required for removing the disconnections to make
necessary changes must also be taken into consideration. The benefits of the
cross-functional team that you developed are that the team learns a
considerable amount about the overall business and their roles within it. This
training will help each team member better understand what is required of them.
The increase in understanding will reduce the amount of training needed. When
an organization fully understands what their key processes are, you will see a
boost in commitment to the implementation of improvements. Some elements of a
successful implementation are:
leadership and management commitment to execution of processes.
• A clear
statement of why the change is needed.
• A clear scope of
how the organization will be effected after the changes.
• A firm
implementation of the plan and strategy.
resources and time.
• Communication of
plans, responsibilities, benefits, progress, and resolutions.
• Cooperation of
all individuals to support the proposed changes.
management and execution.
The framework of
the Process Improvement and Management model can improve the flow of any
process as well as examine any general management issue. Introducing this model
as a standard for continuous improvement will provide you and your employees
with a clear guide to more efficient processes. If you want to successfully
apply these processes, you'd better get out there and find the rest.
In her popular advice lecture "Sh-h-h-h- Don't Tell Anyone: Secrets to Finding a
Literary Agent", Carole Sargent, Georgetown University's director of scholarly
publications, reveals her literary secrets Thursday, June 7 from 11:30 -1:30
p.m. at the American Women Writers National Museum, 1275 K St. NW @ 13th street
Sargent's expertise extends well beyond scholarly
publications. She has placed authors' work with such mega-famous
literary agencies as William Morris Endeavor, Trident Media, Farrar, Straus
& Giroux, and others.
"I'll disclose what literary agents are
looking for in a book proposal or a potential author, and why you should get an
agent before you even finish your book," Sargent said. She'll share her time-tested tips for finding and working with agents. A Question time will follow her remarks.
Before coming to Georgetown University publications, Sargent taught
eighteenth-century English literature there. She earned a Ph.D. at the
Unverisity of Virginia. Practicing what she preaches, Sargent placed two of her own books with top publishing house Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
If you're a design business owner, you know that repeat business is critical to your success. It also makes your life much easier because you can count on ongoing business without having to continuously find new prospective clients and convince them to hire you.
Here are seven ways to keep your clients coming back:
1. Take time to build a relationship.
Learn to "visit" instead of being so professional that you appear rude. Pay attention when you meet with your clients. Learn about them and their lives. Notice what they hang on their walls and place on their desks. And don't just notice, comment on them. For instance, if your prospective client has a huge marlin hanging on his wall, you could say, "I'll bet there's an interesting story that goes with that fish." Your client will be thrilled to tell you about it, and he'll be flattered that you asked. And it would be like ignoring the elephant in the room if you DIDN'T comment on it. Learning about your client will pay off every day of your relationship.
2. Set realistic deadlines and either meet or beat them.
Nothing impresses a client more than when you follow through with what you say you will do. Do it fast. Do your best. And do it right. Clients always want it "yesterday," but if you know it can't be done that quickly, or it won't be done correctly because there's not enough time, then speak up right at the beginning. It's better to set a realistic deadline and then beat it by a day or two, than accept an unrealistic one and make the client wait.
3. Make it easy to work with you.
Extend your service hours by an hour to cover when your clients want to talk to you. You can impress your clients by being available during their "off" hours. [Caveat: Don't go overboard. creating structure around your hours of operation lets clients know that you are a professional and operate as one.]
4. Offer credit card payment options to make it easy for your clients (and the government!) to pay you.
Today, businesses need payment options. If you allow them to pay with credit cards, you'll have more clients. And if you're interested in government business, this is an easy way to get in on the action since most government agencies are now using credit cards for purchases valued at less than $2,500.
5. Be flexible--offer to meet for breakfast.
Just like you, your clients are very busy. They have meetings all day and often during lunch, so it's hard to find a time to get together. Offer to meet for breakfast when you and your client are both fresh, or meet after normal work hours to accommodate their schedule.
6. Provide an added-value service at no charge.
Give them something they aren't expecting. If you go the extra mile, your clients will notice. You'll soon be the one they turn to when they need a problem solved. It works when your vendors do it for you, doesn't it? It sure does for me!
7. Refer business to your clients.
If you send business to your clients related to their profession, it shows how much value them. Connect one client with another, if possible. It's the ultimate thank you.
By Lois Carter Fay Photography by Raisa Kanareva
Lois Carter Fay, APR, is a 30-year veteran in the P.R. and marketing field. She now produces three marketing ezines, Brainy Tidbits, Brainy Flash, and Success Secrets of Women Entrepreneurs. All are free. She also offers monthly teleseminars on sales, marketing or publicity topics. Lois is the co-author with Jim Wilson of "Sales Success! Strategies for Women," a quick-to-read ebook containing 52 easy-to-implement sales tips. The ezines, ebook and teleseminars are available through her websites. Visit http://www.MarketingIdeaShop.com or http://www.WomenMarketing.com to learn more sales and marketing ideas and subscribe. Claim your free special report when you subscribe.