Size Doesn’t Matter!

That’s right, it doesn’t. At least not when you’re talking about process improvement projects.

Too many people are scared away from process improvement because they think their idea isn’t big enough or important enough, or that it doesn’t save enough money.

Today I’m here to tell you that there is more to this wonderful world of process improvement than saving money from every project. Click to Tweet

Blasphemy you say? Read on.

Isn’t the objective to save money?

Well I’m not going to lie – it’s always nice if a process improvement effort results in savings to the organization. The question you have to ask yourself is, “are there any other benefits that might be just as (or nearly as) important as cost reduction?

The answer will, of course, depend on your situation.

If you’re a small business owner looking at financial statements with red all over them, then no. There isn’t anything more important than finding some wasted cash and funneling it back in the company.

If you are a large organization spending tens of thousands of dollars on formal process improvement training, and you want to see a positive return on your investment with a longer term positive impact on shareholder value, then no. There isn’t anything more important than saving money. At least not at the start.

Two Outcomes Often Forgotten in the Quest for Improved Processes

If you don’t fit into the either of the descriptions above, then chances are you’d love to save money, and there are also other opportunities that are just as impactful and important to you right now.

  1. Customer Satisfaction. Many process improvement activities focus on cycle time, or the time it takes to complete a process. How long does it take you to respond to your customers? To answer their eMails? Provide a proposal on a job they’ve requested? Send an invoice? Provide a refund? Deliver a product or service? Improving those processes may not save the company money in the short term – I can guarantee you that improving processes that make your customers happier will save you money in the longer term.
  2. Employee Engagement. Are there processes in your organization that are exhausting and aggravating to your employees? Maybe the level of approvals that are required on a (relatively) simple document? How about the processes for tracking time, requesting vacations, taking sick leave, or completing a performance appraisal? The Gallup organization has proved a substantial link between employee engagement and organizational outcomes. (See more here) It follows then, that impacting employee engagement will also impact your profitability in the longer term.

See what I did there? Any process improvement idea, regardless of initial focus, will eventually lead to a positive impact on your bottom line. Effective process improvement is funny like that. Click to Tweet

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Until next week!