3 Tips to Help Identify Process Inefficiencies
In the business world, goals are attained by establishing a process. Like an assembly line, there will be a series of steps that lead from an invoice to a completed order or from a team meeting to a completed project. Ideally, the processes in your business will run smoothly, moving easily from step to step. However, there can be unexpected problems along the way. Every business needs to find ways to identify and eliminate inefficiency.
Conduct a Regular Process Audit
The worst-case scenario for a business is when a process fails. For instance, a shipment goes out late or an order is canceled. A great deal of time and money can be lost on inefficiency. The process may lead to a successful result but will use more resources than necessary. A quarterly process audit can help eliminate waste. You'll examine the various steps of the process and see where time is lost or tasks fall behind. Doing this on a regular basis gives you the ability to compare outcomes and see progress over time.
Go on a Gemba Walk
Gemba is a Japanese word that means something like "the place where the action is." The Gemba walk is a technique used by companies such as Toyota where there's a physical examination of a process while it's happening. For example, a leader might walk along the entire route of an automobile assembly line. He or she can see the places where things slow down. Employees that may need retraining will be noted. This is a technique that's meant to be done on a regular basis so that changes can be fine-tuned each time, especially since changes in one area can have unexpected effects on another.
Hold Employee Interviews
Often, the people with the best ideas of how to improve a process are the ones who have to carry it out. They may notice small problems that happen on a regular basis, or they may already have a sense of how their job could be more efficient. In many cases, they may not feel empowered to make suggestions, or they worry that their suggestions may come across as complaints. By holding periodic interviews, you can allow employees to discuss efficiency problems and work out practical solutions. Not only can this improve your process, but it gives employees greater ownership of their work.
As a leader, your task is to make sure that projects are finished in a timely way. Your customers and employees count on you to make sure business gets done. By paying attention to the details of a process, you can improve its efficiency and keep things running smoothly.
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