In the previous blog post, we targeted processes and established metrics. Now, let’s plan and implement the new and improved business process. Taking these steps will improve your negotiations on your next review or interview.
“This is your time.” Herb Brooks, Coach of the 1980 USA “Miracle” Hockey Team
The last two steps were preparing for this most important step. Once you’ve presented your metrics to get approval for your project, it’s time to deliver.
Plan and Implement the Improvement
There has been a lot written about Business Process Improvement. Most likely, you’ve led these efforts before, or you’ve been a part of these efforts. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Survey the Process: Business processes include people, information, steps, rules, and technology. Take a look at your process and think about all these factors with respect to input, work in progress, and output.
Consider Inputs: Who are providing the inputs into the process? Is the information in the best format to process? Are the inputs correct, complete, and understandable? What would be ideal? What must stay the same, what can change? Why?
Consider Work in Progress: Where are the bottlenecks? Can serial steps be made parallel? Are people duplicating efforts, checking and rechecking? Are there rules leftover from an obsolete issue? Do you need more staff? Can we eliminate some steps?
Consider Outputs: Who uses the process output? Is the information in the best format for these users? Are the inputs correct, complete, and understandable? What would be ideal? What must stay the same? What can change? Why?
Write a plan with goals and dates. Make a plan that has goals and dates, and take into account unpredicted events. Whether the information (like inventory on hand in our story) has changed over the course of time, or someone underestimates the time for their task, you should have room for flexibility and still meet your goals. Tip: When asking for a time estimate for a task, ask the task owner to estimate based on everything going smoothly. Then, ask the task owner to estimate based on a few emergencies or unforeseen events arising. Usually that second question gets them thinking about past emergencies and issues that have slowed progress in the past. Use your judgment to assign a duration that takes into consideration those unforeseen events.
Schedule time to execute the plan. Engineering Document Control Managers get busy with urgent matters. Unless you schedule time on your calendar for this longer-term project, you won’t have it. I like to schedule daily time, even if it’s 15 minutes per day per project, to keep the ball rolling on projects. Tip: During this time turn off all noisy notifications from your computer and phone. Try the “airplane mode” on your phone for fewer distractions.
Measure. Use your metrics. Keep measuring to see how you’re doing. Understand the causes of the improved metrics.
Report progress. Keep your project on upper management’s radar by writing reports. You will refer to these reports to remember where you’ve come from and what you’ve done.
So far, we’ve targeted a process, established metrics. In this section we gave you some ideas on planning and executing the improvements. I invite you to email me or comment below if you want to discuss any of these topics. I’d love to hear about your experiences! Emails are kept confidential.
The final installation here is about presenting the results of your effort. You must let others know what you’ve done! Then, ask for the raise.
Note: These are some best practices I’ve found. It’s not exhaustive. It’s meant to start a conversation in your organization. Comment with your response, your ideas and your experiences. If you email them to me, I can post them with a pseudonym or no name. Thank you!