Setting goals is a key part of your process improvement plan. We examine the five areas you must consider if you want to deliver the ultimate business transformation.

Process improvement is core to every business

Process improvement helps your organisation to achieve its aims better, faster and at less cost. It should be an ongoing practice, forming part of the business’s DNA. Every function should review and improve processes regularly to drive a culture of continuous improvement.

Make sure your improvement goals are SMART

Measuring process improvement is essential. If you don’t know what you wanted to accomplish, how will you know when, or if, you’ve achieved it?

Before you begin setting goals, do make sure they are aligned with and contribute to the overall business goals. And don’t set too many at once. It’s overwhelming and could lead to procrastination, lack of focus or substandard work.

When you’re drafting each goal, ensure that it meets the SMART criteria:

Specific: each goal should target one problem. If you’ve got more than one area to cover then split them up into separate goals. Identify what you need to do and who needs to do it. Don’t worry about how to do it; that comes later

Measurable: how will you know if you’ve achieved the desired outcome? Quantify your goals and make sure you know what the result should be. For example, are you targeting revenue growth of 5% in a year, or a two-day reduction in production time?

Achievable: while setting ambitious goals is great, it doesn’t help if they’re unrealistic. Failure (or fear of failure) will only demoralise the team, as well as wasting time and resources. Instead, take small steps; set another, slightly more challenging goal once the first has been achieved

Relevant: clearly, choose goals that are appropriate for your business needs and help you work towards the bigger strategic picture

Time-bound: when do you aim to have reached your goal? It’s not helpful to have projects drag on without an end in sight, as you’ll lose focus and urgency

Your goals should cover five key areas

Naturally, each goal’s detail varies according to the business involved, its priorities and the industry in which it operates. However, most organisations would benefit from setting process improvement goals in these business-critical areas.

1.     Identify, reduce and eliminate waste

There will often be some wastage in processes, for instance in manufacturing where some by-products can’t be used. The aim is to keep it to a minimum and make the best possible use of resources.

Ask yourself where waste occurs in your processes and what, if anything, you can reuse. Be careful to ensure that cutting waste in one area doesn’t simply shift it to another. Value-stream mapping can be a useful tool to identify steps that don’t add value, like waiting or travelling time.

2.     Manage costs effectively

Unfortunately, you can’t eliminate all costs. But you can manage them better.

Process mapping will help you identify where your most significant costs are. Could you use a cheaper supplier, more efficient technology or part-time staff? Similarly to managing waste, don’t cut costs for the sake of it, or in areas that might negatively affect the customer experience.

3.     Minimise and mitigate risks

Risks originate anywhere, both inside and outside a business. Scenario modelling helps increase resilience and flexibility. It empowers you to plan better, manage risks and avoid surprises. Give your organisation the best chance of avoiding or reducing risks by testing the best, worst and most likely outcomes.

If you’re in a highly regulated industry, like finance, then this goal takes on greater significance. Certain conditions must be met to demonstrate resilience to disruption.

4.     Improve efficiency

It’s even more important to set a specific goal here, as the statement ‘be more efficient’ is somewhat vague. Simply recognising the need for, and setting, process improvement goals puts you on the road to greater efficiency. By meeting goals like cutting costs and managing waste, you’re contributing to a more efficient, effective business.

5.     Optimise customer satisfaction

Processes and customer journeys are closely linked. Process improvement can help you map, visualise and optimise your customer journeys to exploit every advantage.

Customers expect a smooth experience from start to finish when interacting with your business. They might not be your only customer but they should feel like they are. Creating a customer journey map enables you to define, understand and improve these interactions

Need help with setting and achieving process improvement goals?

The business process management platform BusinessOptix helps you discover process problems, define goals, model scenarios and more. To discover how your business will benefit from its capabilities, claim your free demo today.

Diagram showing features of BusinessOptix process transformation platform

Source: BusinessOptix