No business, small or large can survive by remaining static. Agile companies with a focus on process improvement can play defense against unexpected assaults like:
- Economic changes
- The launch of new products or services
- Changes in regulations
- Changing leadership
- Mergers, acquisitions or divestitures
- The need to adapt to new technologies
- Changes in the market
External and internal changes can force companies to improve their business processes to stay competitive, get to market faster, reduce overhead, centralize information, standardize on new rules and integrate with new technology.
In addition, there is always a need to play offense by constantly getting and staying ahead of the competition with incremental improvements in efficiency, productivity and innovation.
Two Approaches to Process Improvement
Whether playing offense or defense with process improvement, there are two approaches to consider for a workflow process improvement project:
- An overall enterprise approach
- Isolated departmental initiatives
There are merits to both approaches. An enterprise-wide initiative can generate a broad portfolio of process improvements and ensure that process changes are designed to integrate well with the entire range of departments and business units.
More isolated, departmental process improvements can provide rapid, focused improvements that can have an immediate impact on a department or business unit’s efficiency and productivity.
The approach you take depends on a few factors.
- Are you using a scalable process management system that can be deployed throughout the organization either before or after a smaller-scale process improvement project is started?
- Is the need too critical to wait for an oftentimes lengthy enterprise process improvement initiative? Basically, do you need it in a few weeks or, potentially, a few years?
- Is there an existing enterprise-wide business process management project already in place and is your functional area slated to be part of it? If so, does it make more sense to get involved in that project?
- Is there executive management buy-in for what needs to be done? Is a smaller, more manageable project easier to sell?
While every situation is unique, few organizations can survive, much less flourish without a strong commitment to process improvement, whether it’s an offensive or defensive need.