WHAT IS PROCESS SIMPLIFICATION?
Simplification is about viewing the organisation as a system. Every business has to perform functions in order to exist, the ideal thinking for scaling is a streamlined way called process architecture. The purpose of this is to remove complexity from an organisation and ensuring simplicity is in place. This can range anywhere from a minute process/procedure to high-level business operations.
To achieve optimal efficiency, every organisation needs to have three components to their approach on processes. First is process creation to established the 'process architecture'. Then continuous improvement of processes to iteratively improve processes as they're used. Last is process redesign when there is a better way to do something so the whole process is changed, such as implementing automation.
If a business' processes are disjointed and complicated now, even if there isn't a present problem that it creates, the problems arise later when scaling that function in the future. Putting a priority on processes now sets the business up to scale seamlessly.
As a target, businesses can use the industry standard of Six Sigma's DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyse, Design, Verify) for process creation and DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) for processes improvement.
Processes should continually be reviewed by the people executing them and the team. When reviewing, priority is placed on value to the customer of each step, the step's simplicity and if it can be automated. These processes are measured and analysed as feedback loops to continually improve.
When doing a process redesign, it should always be made transparent and involve the relevant internal users (i.e. employees, vendors, etc) or external users (clients, partners, vendors, etc.) to especially in the design step to create the best outcomes and manage change.
The pain of poor or no processes have costs on the organisation, both obvious and hidden. For example, there's the obvious financial costs from inefficiencies but there can also be employee engagement costs induced from frustration.
To avoid process pains in your business, you can start with documenting the steps in your process. Count how many steps you have and check if they can be simplified so that anyone can understand them. Next, ask if the step adds value, if it doesn't then remove it. Lastly, see how long the step takes and how much manual work is required, can you use automations to shorten the process. Have a think now about a process in your business and how you might improve it.
Microsoft Azure experienced 4.46 billion hours of collective downtime after their standard deployment process was not followed correctly
Azure’s 425 million customers experienced 10.5 hours of downtime when an engineer made a small assumption outside of the regular process. A fix was deployed which had previously been run on a small section of the product’s infrastructure without issue, and the engineer thus took a shortcut by thinking it would be fine to push through. It wasn’t.
There are many tools available for business process management (BPM) and they vary in function from mapping tools, to process storage, process creation, integrations and automations. It is best to adopt the tool which best fits your organisation, this may be something already being used but not to its full potential or it could be a tool which integrates with your other systems. There may not be one tool which is used for everything but rather a selection of tools to be used where appropriate.
To effectively map out processes in an easy and consistent manner, use mapping software like Lucid Charts, Drawi.io or Miro to create flow charts quickly and collaboratively. There are free and paid versions to fit small or large organisations.
The 5'Ws & H approach allows you to document the functions needing to be performed in the business, so that there is easy flow into process architecture. When applying the what, when, where, who, why & how to a function of your business, you will be able to make it clear and simple for your teams and workforce to understand, adopt and execute the functions in the most simplest of ways.
Six Sigma is a quality management methodology used to help businesses improve current processes, products or services by discovering and eliminating defects. The goal is to streamline quality control in manufacturing or business processes so there is little to no variance throughout. Six Sigma DMAIC is for process improvement and DMACV is for process creation.
Lean is a methodology and tool kit to eliminate waste by reducing process time and increasing flow delivering customer value with continuous improvement.
Together, Lean Six Sigma is a fact-based, data-driven philosophy of improvement that values defect prevention over defect detection. It drives customer satisfaction and bottom-line results by reducing variation, waste, and cycle time, while promoting the use of work standardization and flow