We’d like to assume that, but you would be surprised at the number of employees in the company that really know how or why they were put in place.
Usually you find out about processes when you find yourself starting a new role, either within your existing company or somewhere new. You are excited to be able to “make a difference” and “change the world,” and you ask the simple question, “why do we do ‘this’ like that?” That’s when you hear this familiar phrase: “because we’ve always done it that way.”
Hmm … sounds like an opportunity is knocking here. But, your approach to how you make changes, can greatly affect the outcome. We’ve all done it slightly differently, but there are definitely ways to make business process changes more successful.
Following are 5 easy tips that I have found to successfully evaluate your processes:
1. DON’T CHANGE IT JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN
Some folks take it as a personal challenge to make immediate change just because they have the authority to do so. They treat it as a “rung” up on the success ladder. Change without knowledge can create animosity on your team from the very beginning and can be hard to overcome. Take a deep breath, make your list and then start investigating.
2. NARROW THE FOCUS
Whether you gather the team together or meet with your team individually, try to focus on one or two business processes at a time. You can keep the list going, and share it with the team for future meetings, but your time will be more productive if everyone is thinking about the same topic during each meeting.
3. GATHER FEEDBACK
Really take the time to listen to the employees involved in the process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but try to refrain from trying to “solve the problem” at the same meeting. People will respect your decisions if they feel that they can be heard and contribute to the solution.
4. DOCUMENT THE STEPS
This can be the most agonizing part of the process. Why? Because most processes are ingrained in people’s heads and not documented on paper. They just “did it that way” and no one ever questioned it or asked them to write it down. Once you have it in writing, share it with the team and review each step.
Ask the following questions:
- Are all the steps still necessary?
- Can you automate any of the steps in the process for further efficiencies?
- Are there others that are affected by the process that need to have input?
5. MAKE IT EASY TO FOLLOW
Now that you’ve learned more about the process (and the people) and re-evaluated all the steps, it is time to create a “standardized” document. This is commonly referred to as an “SOP” or “Standard Operating Procedure.” By using one established or official way of doing something with a universal layout and common language, it will ensure that everyone is consistent and that there are no “gray areas. Give the documented SOP to everyone in the group to review one more time. I have also found that it is beneficial to let someone outside the process review it to see if it is understandable to them as well. Remember, this document will become your training guide.
Lastly, make it a practice to evaluate your processes on a regular basis. It will keep yourself and your employees sharp and thinking ahead.
I hope this information helps you be more successful when you are asked to “take a look” at how a process works. What’s your SOP for evaluating business processes and revising them? Please share your advice in the comments below, on our Facebook or Google+ walls or tweet us. Or, feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions or comments at [email protected].