How To Improve Processes To Better Support Remote Operations And Workers
In 2021, whether you are looking to continue to allow workers to work remotely, or you are going to establish adjunct operations (or employees) in other countries to reduce organizational costs, your ultimate success will be judged in terms of how well the process works in terms of communication, quality, cost, friction, and service.
After working with hundreds of organizations as an independent process improvement consultant I have some ideas to help get this conversation started but first, let me ask these questions.
What percentage of your processes are documented today? Our studies find that for most organizations, 60% of processes are not fully documented and up-to-date.
If a process is not documented, it can’t be measured, improved, understood, or successfully followed. This becomes even more critical if you are plan to expand to other areas of the world where English is a second language.
What is the process error rate (work not being completed the first time correctly)? After conducting hundreds of detailed process studies across all industries, we find on average that there are errors with communication, accuracy, and quality for 25% of all transactions, resulting in additional time to complete a transaction or fix it when the mistake is pointed out by the customer. Although there are exceptions, this is typically applicable across industries and operating areas.
Errors cause organizations additional cost, liability, and friction between internal groups and the customers. This can be exasperated when employees work remotely and are not seeing each in-person day-to-day.
Does your current technology support or fight your process, and how many systems does an employee need to get the work done? We find most employees use 6 to 12 different on-prem/cloud-based systems; add in email, the shared network drive, collaboration spaces, and all the other places information and documents can be stored electronically or in paper, and that’s a lot of places to store, misplace, and miscode.
Typically we find computer systems and platforms do not fully talk to each other, and the employee must be the bridge to get things done. This results in additional organizational costs and mistakes. See process error rate above.
So what is my advice? First, conduct an inventory of processes to determine those areas most in need of improvement. For selected areas, develop a high-level baseline to access the scope and size of the process, who will participate in the discussion, current challenges, and ideas for improvement. This exercise should take about an hour to complete per group.
Second, for selected processes, work with team members to develop a detailed baseline, and document their frustrations with the current process. Develop a process redesign (procedural – to clean up the process and technology – focusing first on owned technologies). As needed, examine new advanced technologies (RPA, workflow, AI). Develop a change action plan and standard operating procedures.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) will clearly document the process, provide detailed notes as required, have links to supporting documents on how to access/use systems, and who to contact if there are issues.
Third, find an independent process consultant to help conduct the above work. This consultant will bring a fresh set of eyes to the project, encourage participation, bring the tools and methods of process improvement, objectively look at technology in place, and as needed, assess capabilities and ROI for new technologies such as RPA, digital workflow, AI, and ECM.
What is the next step? Feel free to contact us at CRE8 Independent Consultants. We are happy to discuss your needs and goals, and how our enterprise/department process improvement and technology planning studies can be of assistance. As independent consultants, we provide an objective voice regarding process improvement plans, vendor ability, return on investment, and vendor selection. To schedule a free consultation. I look forward to speaking with you. Best George Dunn, President CRE8 Independent Consultants.