How to put people at the heart of your improvement culture
Business Improvement Culture needs people to work properly - and the tools you pick to help with BPM can make all the difference. What should you be looking for?
The best tools for BPM
Creating an improvement culture is about more than just prioritizing process excellence in your organization. Processes are about people – or at least they should be - which is why your teams should be at the heart of your continuous improvement efforts.
Deloitte says that if you want to see genuine transformation, a commitment to continuous improvement should be part of your teams’ DNA.
Identifying opportunities for improvement and increased efficiency is often second nature to process improvement specialists. But that is only half the battle. To understand each process and how it is actually executed in the business every day, it’s best to engage your front-line teams as your most reliable source of the truth. They know how the theory differs from the reality of everyday activities. And they are often best positioned to identify and suggest improvements.
Teams breathe life into process improvement
A study into process improvement was recently conducted after an Israeli electro-optics company, Elop, resuscitated their improvement culture. The results were shared in this Harvard Business Review article, ‘How to make sure good ideas don’t get lost in the shuffle’.
The research team found that employees working with processes in manufacturing and operations were frustrated and their creativity was diminishing, as they felt their ideas were unheard. With innovation at an all-time low, Elop decided to make a change, committing to the reinvention of their culture, with impressive results.
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By engaging all of their employees in process improvement, Elop discovered that over 80% of their team had ideas to contribute when they were given the opportunity to do so. The researchers credit an engaged workforce using a transparent, collaborative approach with saving millions and dramatically improving efficiency for the company.
Engage teams in the process improvement conversation
To engage teams and drive collaboration, processes need to be clear and easily accessible for everyone across the business. Process users should be encouraged to give feedback on the accuracy of the captured processes and to suggest improvement ideas.
This is a great way to engage teams in process improvement. The number of improvement suggestions can be a good indicator of engagement levels.
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BPM tools can help or hurt the number of process improvement conversations and the participation rate. Ideally, your BPM platform should make it easy for teams to suggest, track, implement and measure improvements. If it’s not easy, you can expect participation rates to be low.
If you want to build a process improvement culture, your BPM tool should:
1. Provide a clear path for process users to comment on both the efficiency and the effectiveness of each process.
2. Produce an audit trail that makes improvement suggestions both visible and connected to the process in question.
3. Generate notifications to the process owner and expert to ensure suggestions are seen by the right people. This creates a conversation around the improvement idea with team members who are in the best position to make changes.
One of the keys to a successful continuous improvement program is having the ability to gather and implement numerous improvement ideas directly from the teams who use the processes, every day.
With the right level of support, teams can be engaged at every level, and improvements will take hold.
Make process improvement a priority
The ability to provide feedback and respond to it in an agile fashion can help to engage teams and embed a culture of improvement, from the boardroom to the shop floor.
By encouraging feedback and demonstrating that suggested changes are being evaluated and implemented, organizations can enable a culture of continuous improvement and encourage engagement at all levels, across all teams.
People should be at the heart of your improvement culture. Leave your process users across the organization out of the process improvement loop, and you risk alienating your most knowledgeable process participants who are key to the success of your improvement efforts.
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