For a business to be successful in the long term, it has to offer products and services -- at acceptable prices -- that meet customer needs. It also needs a process improvement plan so it can improve its internal functions continuously to decrease operational costs and increase operational efficiency and employee morale.
Engage Your Employees
Start by creating a workplace environment that accepts and embraces change. An open-door policy, fair and respectful treatment and open communications are some of the most important ingredients. If you take the time to lay a foundation that encourages and rewards employee contributions before implementing a monitoring and operational improvement plan, it will be much easier to get the buy-in required to improve not just workplace operations but your entire business.
Set Benchmark Goals and Measurements
The "SMART" system uses an acronym to guide businesses in setting expectations that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Do this for each department. Next, define benchmark criteria to use in monitoring. For example, a goal for customer service operations might be achieving a 99 percent customer satisfaction rate, a goal for accounts receivable might be to increase collection rates by 20 percent within six months and a goal for your information technology department might be to fully integrate point-of-sale and inventory management programs.
An Ongoing Monitoring Plan
Involve every employee in process monitoring. Managers can conduct service-level reviews, such as call monitoring and desk-side observations, analyze reports and dissect current operational processes. Lower-level employees can conduct quality testing and contribute information about current workflows. Schedule regular private, department and company-wide meetings to review results and determine when or if process changes are necessary.
Implement Operational Process Improvements
A results-oriented improvement plan focuses on improving cost, quality, service or speed. Action steps range from making minor changes that eliminate duplicate steps or other workflow redundancies to scrapping and redesigning an entire process. A complete redesign includes analyzing, prioritizing and reassembling tasks and operational steps. A complete process redesign might be necessary when compliance regulations change or to incorporate changing technologies into your business.
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