While small businesses usually employ a smaller number of people and have less-complicated businesses processes compared to big businesses, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need to improve their internal processes.
Business owners are always presented with various opportunities to improve—one of them being business process improvement (BPI).
Some of the strategies to improve team performance and business operations for small businesses are:
- Aiming for long-term improvement
- Understanding current business processes
- Identifying business needs and problems
- Setting metrics for measuring business success
- Considering customer perspectives
Aiming for long-term improvement
Before embarking to employ any kind of business process improvement examples and identifying process improvement opportunities, business owners should remember that the goal of any strategy always is the business’ long-term growth and improvement.
Contrary to what most people think, BPI is not an overnight solution to any business problem. BPI involves a long and arduous process and periodic checks ensure that the team functions effectively long after the necessary improvements have been made.
When making long-term improvements to the end-goal of a business’ BPI, business owners should build a culture of improvement within the workplace by involving staff in the process, considering their suggestions and rewarding them for their efforts. This will further encourage eventual process improvement.
Understanding current business processes
Part of improving the team’s productivity is by becoming an expert in a business’ initial processes even before any improvements take place. But aside from knowing these processes, it is also important to have proper documentation for these processes as these serve as guidelines for future improvements.
Improving a process at work involves careful scrutiny of current business systems and the processes that are in place. If a business owner is extremely hands-on that going through these processes is a breeze, then well and good.
But ultimately, business owners should also involve employees that go through these processes to have a good grasp of the business’ internal systems.
Identifying business needs and problems
Knowing what a business needs and what problems within the system need to be addressed are crucial steps in business process improvement.
Before improvements are made, identify first all problems and issues followed by their appropriate solutions and improvements. This ensures that the business is prepared for further customisations as the BPI is put into place.
Business needs can be identified by seeking assistance from employees who are primarily working with these problems. Consider their suggestions for solutions, especially if these employees work in a specialised field or industry within the business.
Setting metrics for measuring business success
Making successes measurable is a good way for business owners to track internal improvements in the long run. By focusing on measurable aspects like productivity, work output, service levels and customer satisfaction improvements can be determined if they are successful or not.
These metrics also must be regularly measured to ensure that improvements always meets the standards set by the business.
Once these metrics are consistently met, business owners should increase their metric targets to accommodate improvements within the business as it grows and adapts. Employees must also be educated regarding these standards and what must be done in order to achieve them.
Considering customer perspectives
Once the initial results of the BPI come in, business owners should think of ways on how to increase the quality of processes. The best way to do this is to start considering customer inputs, making sure that the business caters to the needs and preferences of its customers.
This can be done via “value-adding”, a process where a business determines the kind of product/services that their customers would be willing to pay for—and as such would be considered as necessities. Value-adding activities solely depend on the industry that a business is in.
However, what’s important is for the business to use these ‘value-adding’ activities to gain an advantage over other competitors in the market.