How To Decide Which Business Process To Fix First

How To Decide Which Business Process To Fix First

When several business processes need work and there are limited resources to get it done, it can be hard to decide which process to attack first.

Most of the time when you decide to take a look at business processes and do a total company revamp, you’ll find a lot of places where improvements can be made. That’s a good thing.

But that also means there will be a lot of work that needs to be done to get from “as is” to “to be.”

If your company is like most, there’s not an abundance of resources to dedicate to this effort even though it will reap good rewards. So you need a way to prioritize which processes get attention first.

There are many factors to consider when deciding which processes to attack first. Here are eight ideas to get you started.

  1. Safety – This is pretty much a no brainer. If a process contains a step that poses a safety hazard, it needs to be right at the top of the list for a revamp. You may be able to make an interim adjustment that eliminates the hazard if a long term fix will take a while to accomplish, but these type of changes should be at the very top of your priority list.
  2. Return on Investment (ROI) – Will a change in the process increase your company’s return on investment and improve cash flow? At first glance, that would seem to make it a top priority. However there are other things to consider. Will it require an investment in a software upgrade? Will the change affect several departments or people? Those two issues can make it tough to get the change made quickly.
  3. Soft Benefit – Perhaps the change in the process will require less effort from salaried employees. Maybe it’s taking them 60 hours per week now and the change will reduce their workload to 40 hours a week. That will be a great benefit for them (and ultimately for your business) because they’ll be less frazzled and less prone to burn out, but it won’t impact the bottom line.
  4. Quick Win – Can the change to the process be made quickly without the involvement of other departments or permission from leadership to make it happen? Can it be delegated to a business analyst or other business leader without having to involve resources from your IT staff? Can it be completed within a month or less? These are all scenarios you must weigh before taking a quick win action. Quick wins are a good thing when you are implementing a process improvement initiative, because it lets people see that things really are going to happen. But the drawback is that it may set expectations for everything to happen quickly so make sure you’ve communicated well with all of the stakeholders.
  5. Software Upgrade – There’s a lot involved in changing a process when a software upgrade must be completed. It’s actually when your process change turns into a project that must be managed from start to finish. Not to mention that IT normally needs to be intimately involved. And most IT departments already have a pretty full plate. If the software upgrade will yield major payback for your company, like a huge ROI, brainstorm ways to get it done outside of the normal process. Perhaps a business analyst can lead the change or a small team of diverse staff can take it on and get it done.
  6. Number of Departments or People Impacted – If your process change has huge implications across the enterprise, it’s going to be a challenge to get it done. You’ll need to make sure you have a solid change management and communication plan to ensure it really does get implemented across the entire company.
  7. Executive Hot Button – This one will be tricky for you. If the process change is purely driven by executive request, will take a long time and a lot of resources, you’re going to have to use your best communication skills to delay the change so other higher priority changes can be completed. But if it’s a quick change that won’t take a lot of time, money or resources, this would be a good bet. You’ll come out looking like a hero and more than likely gain a supporter in the executive ranks. (Oh, the joys of company politics!)
  8. Executive Support – If it’s tough to get executive support for the change, it’s going to be a long, difficult effort for you unless you can find a way to get it done under the radar. However, if you do have strong executive support it will make your job much easier.

So there you go. Eight ideas for you to consider when you’re prioritizing your process changes. What have I missed?

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