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Standing in Line for 2.5 Hours: Tips for Process Improvement

 
[caption id="attachment_9350" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Redesign processes Review and redesign processes to improve organizational efficiency.[/caption] Recently, I went to the Post Office to submit my passport and the necessary documents for renewal. You wouldn’t think this would be an overly complicated process, but I soon learned differently. Each individual in line averaged about 15 minutes to process with some taking up to 30 minutes. Needless to say, tempers were flaring, particularly with the parents of small children. When it was finally my turn to be processed, I found the Post Office person working hard and trying to do her best. It was about 1:30 p.m., and she had been processing passports since 8:00 a.m. without a break. She had not even had lunch, yet.

Tips for Process Improvement

The lesson I learned while waiting in line is how important studying processes and improving them can be for any organization. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the managers and leadership of the organization to systematically study the way things are being done and to challenge how they could be done more efficiently. Some of the fundamentals in redesigning a process include:
  • Watch the process, or better yet, do the process.
  • Ask the people who do it every day what could be improved.
  • Brainstorm on how things could be better.
  • Redesign the process to be more efficient.
  • Pick the top 3 most important action items to move toward the “optimum” process.
  • Have the discipline to follow through on these top 3 action items until they are complete.
It still amazes me at how managers avoid studying and improving processes. It also amazes me how employees can keep executing the same inefficient process year after year with the mindset that, “this is just the way it is.”

Studying Your Processes

For managers, when is the last time you studied your fundamental processes? This could include:
  • Taking incoming phone calls
  • Watching a sales person interact with a customer
  • Preparing a quote using a quote template
  • Entering a sales order
  • Entering a purchase order
  • Invoicing a customer
  • Running payroll
  • Performing the collection process for past due receivables
  • etc…
My guess: There are many small or easy changes that could be made within your organization which might improve efficiency, and more importantly, your employees’ quality of life. Process improvement is important for that very reason. It leads to a more successful organization because it ensures happier employees and customers. In your busy schedule, find time for process improvement. Step into the various roles throughout your department or company, and identify the processes that reduce productivity. Your employees, your customers, and even you will benefit.

Author: Ahmed Arif

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