Business Process Improvement

Written by Elisabeth Forsythe
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Anyone who runs a business wants it to run as efficiently as possible. That's just a given--a company in tiptop shape gets a lot accomplished, and ultimately grows a loyal customer base. If your company seems like it's constantly caught up in bottlenecks, or just doesn't seem to be meeting your goals, it may be time for business process improvement.

Want your business to succeed? It's not always about buying the latest equipment or hiring a new staff. In fact, you may already have all the tools needed to maximize your business. It's your processes that could be the problem. Your processes make up your "value stream"--all of the actions that take raw materials and transform them into the finished product. The flow of procedures continue until your products are transported into the hands of your customers.

Many businesses use process simulation software to analyze their business processes. It's a smart idea--studies show that in small to midsize factories, at least 60 percent of their processes are actually waste that can be eliminated. How do you decide which processes do not add value to your products? Simply ask whether or not a customer would pay for each process. That makes it pretty easy to see which actions are superfluous time-eaters that may be munching on your profits.

Dynamic Business Process Improvement

Once you've analyzed and improved your processes, remember--this should be an ongoing endeavor. Business environments change, customer needs switch tracks, and your entire industry may zig when you assumed it would zag. Business process improvement should be part of a continuous cycle of evaluation and innovation.

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