Managing your growth is one of the number one things your business will do, and process improvement, including business process automation, will constantly be a part of that process.
We discussed on this blog before that ERP implementation does not have to happen instantly. Treating it like any other project, and putting the parts in place that matter most first, and then working on the rest over time is often the best solution. Obtaining greater levels of efficiency sooner helps the cost of process improvements start to pay for themselves.
But how do you manage these two things together? You want your company to grow while at the same time automating and improving your processes to become more profitable. The key is often in both your people and you as a leader.
Here are some of the best things you can do to manage process improvement and growth management.
Make Process Improvement a Daily Conversation
“What can we do better?” should be a daily conversation among leaders, but that is simply not enough. Among your employees, the question should be “What can I do better? What steps in this process can be more efficient?”
The people who work for you are the ones on the ground, making your business run, and they know your business processes best. It stands to reason then that they also know what improvements could be made for better efficiency.
However, a daily conversation means those same employees must have a way to communicate with you and other leaders, and that communication must be open and non-judgmental. The only truly useless idea is the one unspoken, and while not every idea for change is a good one, it can spark thoughts of what changes might actually make a difference to a process or task.
Lead the Way
The only way process improvement works to bring about growth is if you, as a leader, step up and take the initiative. You must lead the way not only in process improvement directly related to what you do but in validating and implementing the changes suggested by others.
This can be a challenge. We like to do things the way we have always done them, and it is easy to get stuck in a routine. It is more difficult to acknowledge that business process automation not only affects our employees and our business overall, but it affects what we do as well.
If you are not open to change and do not embrace overall process improvement, your employees are less likely to do so.
Expand Process Ownership
Who does that process belong to? Well, it belongs to everyone who touches or participates in it. For instance, one key piece of automation for many companies takes place in customer service and relations. However, this does not take the human factor out of them: rather it frees those employees to better focus on more challenging customers, clients, and tasks.
That same process affects sales, order fulfillment, client retention teams, marketing, and in the end nearly every customer-facing employee your company has. They all own that process, and can all contribute to its improvement.
Your employees need to understand this. It is not just about contributing to processes in their department, but in others that impact them as well. Nearly everyone is affected by HR and payroll: automation and process improvement in those areas belongs to literally everyone who gets paid by your company.
You get the idea. Expand process ownership to not only employees in that department, but everyone who is impacted by any procedure.
Document Processes as You Implement Them
This part is important and is also often overlooked by companies in periods of rapid growth, business process automation, and improvement. Why? Because in just a few short weeks, that policy might change again, so why go to the time and expense to write it down, right?
Wrong. Documenting the process helps you see how it has evolved, gives others a chance to evaluate it and suggest improvements in a new way, and helps you not to travel backward. Knowing the history of a process is paramount to being able to implement lasting and meaningful change.
This documentation can be simple summaries, done digitally. Flow charts, visual representations, and other means work just as well as written policy. As long as employees can see, perform, and understand a process even as it is evolving, you have succeeded.
Challenge the Status Quo
The one enemy of change and growth is the status quo. The answer that “we have always done it that way” can kill process improvement and growth faster than anything else. Here is the hard but wonderful truth about business process automation and inspiring growth:
Everyone’s job duties, job description, and daily routines will change, including yours. The key is to acknowledge that those changes will be coming. They will produce stress, some anxiety, and a dramatic shift.
This may mean personnel changes. Those reluctant or resistant to change may not want to continue with your company if their position won’t continue as it has been. You will hear various responses:
“That’s not what I was hired to do.”
“We haven’t done it that way before.”
“That’s not in my job description.”
“There are too many new things to learn.”
“I don’t think that is going to work.”
Those all must be addressed in one way or another. Either the employee must adapt and change with the position they are in, find a new position within your company where they feel comfortable, or in some cases must seek employment elsewhere.
Not only do you have to be willing to constantly change the status quo, but your employees do as well. While this may result in some hard decisions, It also means opportunity, efficiency, and in the long run, greater profits.
Managing process improvements and growth management comes with some challenges, but with the right people and the right leadership, it can be exciting and fulfilling as well. Ready to look at a new ERP, CRM, or overall business process automation? Contact us here at SixtySixTen. We offer customized software solutions for businesses both large and small.