Pitfalls to avoid in process efficiency design

Can we deliver more with less? Can we automate repetitive tasks, freeing up our teams to focus on value add? Everyone wants to be more efficient and the recent shift to remote working, which was deemed impossible only a year ago, has shown us that we can work in different ways and reap the benefits.

Many organisations run into trouble as they go through this process so here are our nine most common mistakes to make sure you avoid:

  1. Poor vision and brief.

It is crucial to have a shared vision for the future amongst the key people in the business and understand how the process improvement is part of this. Without this, a process redesign could be seen as a negative cost-cutting exercise, rather than a necessary step in your transformation journey.

  1. Lack of engagement and communication.

If not communicated properly, people will resist change as they do not know how it will impact them and their role. Process design often comes with a fear of job losses, increased transparency or higher targets that need to be hit. Explaining to team members what is in it for them and the key benefits they can expect – such as freeing up administrative time or minimising complaints – will help get buy in.

  1. Outcomes are not realistic.

To make the business case stack up people often over exaggerate and promise greater efficiency savings and gains. You need to make sure these are realistic and not aspirational and can be realised. Many project benefits rely on staff savings through more efficient processes, but just because you free up time, doesn’t mean you can reduce headcount accordingly. You can’t make 0.3 resource redundant.

You will also need to factor in a delay of realising these benefits – moving to new processes will take time – you may need to implement new technology or tools and teams will need to be trained and supported to fully adopt the new ways of working.

  1. No baseline.

If you don’t know what your starting point is you will be unable to quantify improvements. Make sure you set the baseline measures in terms of throughput, speed and productivity, as well as more qualitative measures of client satisfaction and staff engagement.

  1. Too many processes at the same time.

If you bite off more than you can chew, it will fail. Take an agile approach, start with a clear process and clear scope and deliver improvement as you go along.

  1. Poor analysis skills.

Don’t underestimate the skills required to map and re-engineer processes. It is often easy to side-promote someone into this role, but unless they have the right skills to map and really challenge processes, you will not get the desired outcome.

  1. Not getting the do-ers involved.

A no brainer really. But it is surprising to see that many key process owners are not engaged in the discussion and people second guess what issues are key. Talk to the real experts and users who carry out the processes.

  1. Too slow.

Detailed analysis of the process consumes a lot of time and teams can get stuck on mapping every eventuality for every client in every situation. The key is to get to the core process quickly and validate if actions are relevant or necessary. If it takes too long, people will lose interest, process maps become so complex that they don’t add value and will be out of date before these are completed.

  1. Forgetting your USP.

There is a tendency to try and automate and standardise everything you do, but make sure you keep what makes you special. Automate common processes but keep a personal touch where customers value it the most.

We would love to help you shape your process efficiency design and guide your organisation away from these mistakes. For more information contact EstherM@NineFeetTall.com

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