Your business performance in large part will depend on your own work as an entrepreneur. You need to accomplish specific functions related to your business. These functions are accomplished through processes that you have designed for your company. So, your work in large part will be based on activation and performance of the processes. Because of that you will need your own process improvement system.
Functional and Process Breakdown of Your Organization
Most organizations are structured in functions that are set of tasks based on specialization. If it comes to money, it is a financial function. Manufacturing is inside production function. Marketing is in the marketing function. But, fulfilling customer’s requirements needs the combined expertise of all these functions. Such an approach comes from the industrial revolution by Adam Smith, and then from Frederick Taylor and Henry Fayol.
Peter Drucker, the father of modern management give useful definition about functions. According to him the function is a set of activities that create a common and unique contribution to the realization of the company’s mission.
Let’s see what is the difference between functional and process breakdown of an organization.
The figures present functional and process breakdown of the work in an organization. While it appears they have only slight changes in the words, the two approaches are quite different.
By setting up a business process on top, you are changing the way how the work is managed. With functional breakdown you are managing the results by contributing to the specific function and department. On the other side, with the process breakdown you manage the processes that deliver results. It doesn’t matter which function or department do the work. The output, or the result is what matter the most. In such a way, you will cut all unnecessary functional and departmental restrictions.
Because of that, I always advise my clients to use process oriented design of their companies. So, they will create a specific process hierarchy that will be easy to follow by all persons in the company. The process hierarchy will look something like this:
It is clear that you will need a system that will improve your everyday processes.
Prepare Your Workplace For Process Improvement
The process improvement system that I will present here depend on you and your workplace. So, the best way to start with this process is to prepare your workplace for the process improvement that will follow.
Follow three steps to prepare your workplace for everything that will follow:
1. Make a list with all things surrounds you at your workplace. Many times very messy workplace bring large negative effect on entrepreneur’s productivity. In such a case you are surrounded by too much unimportant things related to your job. They don’t help you, but make your tasks much harder. The first thing when you want to start process improvement is to make a list with all things around you. So, why not start with things at your workplace.
2. Sort all things from a list according to the average number of times you use them daily. Now, when you have the list, you can start thinking about the importance of each item on your newly created list. What is the number of times you use the specific thing from the list average weekly? Answer this question and order the items from the list according the average number of times you use them.
3. Delete all things you are using zero times daily and remove them from your workplace. Because now you know the number of times you use every item listed on your list, you can easily delete all items that are not used at all on a weekly basis. So, after this step you will have a clean list with all important things, you are using for your job. There will be also items that are used very small number of times. For these items you need to answer do you really need them.
Prepare Your Business Functions For Process Improvement Process
Now it is time to prepare your processes for the process improvement process. As I explain at the beginning of this post, your processes do the job related to different functions. Because of that you will need to start with the definition and redefinition of your company’s functions.
4. List all your workplace’s functions according to the importance for doing your work. It is time for your next list important for your planned process improvement efforts. What are the most important functions you are performing at your workplace? Answer this question and make a list. While you are making this list, think about the importance of the each function in the same time. You will need this in the next step.
5. Can you delegate some of the functions that are less important for your business success. In this step you will need to find the functions you are performing, but they are not so much important for the goals of your workplace. Who are they? Can you cut them or delegate them? Think about the most important functions that will need your full potential and focus for your business success. You don’t want your processes to have functions that you don’t need to perform. This is important preparation for your process improvement efforts.
Prepare Your Processes For the Process Improvement Process
Now you can easily start with the preparation of your processes to do the right job for your company.
6. Define all important processes for all functions that survive from previous step. Until now you have defined important tools for your work and most important functions for your business success. Now it is time to think about processes you want to define. This processes you will include in your process improvement efforts. For each of the important functions from the previous step, define the most important processes. These processes will ensure successful implementation of your business functions.
7. Make process maps for all these processes. The next thing you need to do in this process improvement system is to draw process maps for each of the processes defined in the previous step. Additionally, on each process map write down all the things from your list after step 3 you need to use to finish the process. Now, you can additionally check if you really need all these things surround you for your work. If there are things you have not put on your process maps remove them from the list from step 3.
Process Improvement Steps
8. Rearrange things on your process maps. Look at your process maps and think about rearranging things you are using. This is important to improve the productivity of each process. Where each of the items will need to be and how you will need to use them? When you are answering these questions, write the answers on a piece of paper in the form of action steps. If you are rearranging your processes, see if you can remove more things from them. This is important if you want to use a minimalist approach as a part of your process improvement efforts. If you can remove some things from your processes, remove them also from your workplace.
9. Start implementing your new processes in your everyday work. Now it is a time to put your processes to do the work for which you design and redesign them. Remember that the process improvement system is a continuous improvement process. So, even you have done everything with the best wishes, there will be some problems that will need solutions. On the other side, the solutions mean more improvements.
10. Repeat all previous 9 steps. Check if you can repeat all the steps after 5-6 months. Your business is changing. Your market is changing. So, your processes will also need to change.