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The Real Deal On Process Improvement: The Why, The What, The How

470937585Process improvement. That’s a phrase that sends shivers down both managers’ and employees’ spines. Why? People – well, most people – are adverse to change. Whether it’s a fear of the unknown, a touch of laziness or a stubborn attachment to the status quo, a change in the way things get done doesn’t bode well with most individuals – not at first, at least. But if you don’t commit to improvement, you can’t commit to success.

Do you need a boost of process improvement?

Here’s how you know if your processes are underperforming:

  • People are frustrated.
    They’re wasting time performing tasks that they believe are either unnecessary or should be handled by others. They’re performing tasks without knowing why.
  • People aren’t listening.
    Some are making recommendations for change, but no one cares enough to listen up or follow through with tangible action. 
  • People are working in silos. 
    Employees have had to come up with their own workarounds and they haven’t raised their hand about the problem or communicated their “solution” – if it is, in fact, a solution. Management, therefore, is completely out of the loop when it comes to how things are really being done.  
  • People make rash decisions.
    They’re changing processes or putting new ones in place whenever an unanticipated bottleneck or obstacle comes up. They’re changing the tactic without thinking about the strategy – like putting a cast on a limb without mending the broken bone.

Yes, you need a boost of process improvement.

Here’s the best ways to handle the aforementioned scenarios:

  • Dispense clarity.
    Explain to each team member why a process exists and how it fits into the grand scheme of our business operations.  
  • Ask questions.
    Encourage your team members to think of better ways to handle your processes. Your employees are the “boots on the ground,” so they know the groundwork of your processes best. 
  • Make moves.
    Seriously consider the recommendations your team makes. And if they make sense, work toward implementation. 
  • Analyze events.
    When an issue crops up, determine if it is a one-time event or a repeating occurrence. The “repeating offenders” are the ones you want to mold your process improvement initiatives around.  
  • See reality.
    Evaluate processes on a regular basis to make sure that they are 1) still relevant, 2) still being followed and 3) being followed properly and efficiently.

What does process improvement do for you?

Process improvement is a term that’s thrown around so frequently – like “lean operations,” “synergy” and “best practices” – that it’s lost its true meaning. It’s become a bit ambiguous and abstract, but you can’t afford to shun it because you’ve lost touch with its tangibles.

Here are the palpable advantages of process improvement via powerful document management software

  • Increased productivity. 
    Spend more time on core business activities and less time entering paper records, routing files, printing documents and searching for information. 
  • Automated processes. 
    Work more efficiently by digitally capturing, classifying and delivering information where and when it’s needed. 
  • Grow customer satisfaction and loyalty. 
    Quickly and easily customize your customer communications and respond more efficiently to customer requests. Your customers get the information they need faster and in the formats they prefer.  
  • Reduce waste and overhead costs.  
    Streamline your operations with workflow automation to improve the results of your business processes and reduce printing and shipping costs associated with managing unnecessary paper documents.
  • Improve security and compliance. 
    Your data, including confidential customer information, is protected. With records management, files and even emails, required for record retention and regulatory compliance are automatically routed and stored.

What has process improvement done for other companies?

Sometimes, you need proof. We get that. Here’s the “proof in the pudding” with a story about a real company who sought out DocuVantage for real process improvement

DocuVantage worked with a Voice over IP (VOIP) solution provider to help correct some growth challenges that they were experiencing. As their sales force got more successful, their delivery team became unable to keep up, as a result, their new customers were very unhappy with their initial service delivery. Once they were up and running, everything was good… but the initial startup was painful for all parties involved.

When we began the interview process, it was very clear that the sales team and the delivery team were unhappy with each other, and neither team trusted management to help make things work. It would have been easy to blame the implementation teams for not delivering on time and without incident, but the easy solution is usually not the best solution. Instead, we separated the teams into separate groups to get to the bottom of the issue. Remember: Mending the broken bone comes before you put on the cast if you want a “real heal.”

What did the company learn?
The early team, which included management, had developed the delivery process. And it was very successful. What they did not realize, however, was that they were on both the sales team and the delivery team. So the person who sold the deal was also delivering the solution.

  • As the company grew, an actual sales team was hired – a team that was great at selling, but did not have delivery experience.  
  • The delivery team was not involved in sales and did not effectively communicate with them. They complained to the operations manager, who simply blamed them for not getting their work done. The reality was much different, though: The solution was being promised 1) in a timeframe that was not practical and 2) with equipment that needed to be ordered and configured before delivery.

What did the company achieve?
The solution involved bringing the two teams back together and explaining to them that neither was at fault: They were both working on different pages and with insufficient information.

  • DocuVantage helped them develop a dialog and work as a single team – all members with skin in the game – to outline the sales and delivery process.  
  • The sales team realized that they needed to gather more information. The delivery team realized that they needed to be more involved in the sales process so that the correct information was gathered. 
  • The joint team outlined their process from prospect to delivery, identifying the key communication points that a successful delivery required. 
  • Once they had their plan and process documented, they were able to implement the technology solutions they needed to achieve the results they wanted

You, too, have the ability to achieve tangible process improvement for quantifiable success. For more in-depth information on how to improve your organization’s operations, click below and download DocuVantage’s free report: Accelerating your Service Delivery through Process Automation.

Whitepaper: The Uncensored Guide to Accelerating Service Delivery Through Process Automation


Topics: Business Process Automation