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Process Improvement for Small and Large Businesses

Processes are intended to help businesses scale, but there are times they hinder rather than empower. Sometimes the very processes put in place to improve efficiency end up adding too much complication. Other times a lack of processes holds up forward momentum. Any business can suffer from either of these two issues, but we have seen that large and small businesses usually have opposite issues.

Large Business, Large Processes

Larger organizations tend to add processes to fix problems. It’s like throwing water on a fire, the intention is good but the outcome is ineffective. Tasks that took a certain amount of time now take twice as long because there are too many steps. Instead of increasing employee efficiency, the added processes elongate completion and frustrate employees along the way.

While adding processes is sometimes a good answer, there are situations where the processes themselves are the problem.Larger companies need to scale back their processes and make them more efficient. Consolidation of processes and figuring out what it really takes to get things done is crucial.

One way to scale back processes is to incorporate software that can analyze, track, and translate data into valuable information. Most of the time large businesses do not need more processes to manage the data, they need a simplified way to make sense of it. When companies can see all of their data at once it helps them make informed business decisions. Automating some of these processes can save companies tons of time, eliminate human error, and get to the meaningful information faster.

Little to None

While large companies need to thin out and automate their processes, small businesses need to incorporate processes. They tend to have little to no processes until fires erupt and they are forced to look for a better way. At this point, because they usually don’t have the expertise to create efficient processes, they end up going through endless trial and error without finding a solution. This in turn creates an unstable culture and causes a slew of issues.

Developing and implementing processes is an investment. It takes time and sometimes requires bringing in outside consultants who have expertise in the area. However, most small companies run on doing things as cheaply and as quickly as possible. They do not want to waste time and money on something they think they can fix themselves. They start utilizing free or low-cost software in hopes they will fix all their problems. When more fires erupt, they switch to another out-of-the-box solution. This can go on for years before they realize their lack of processes and organization is killing them.

Small organizations must be willing to put in the time and resources to develop customized processes built for their unique culture. They need to consider their personnel, work culture, business goals, and much more before throwing a one-size-fits-all software at the problem. There are many consulting companies and software development companies that can assist small businesses in creating the perfect solution for them. Customization is crucial when deciding on software to automate and control processes.

Improving Processes is an Investment

We have worked with companies from both ends of the spectrum and one thing remains true; one size does not fit all. Small business processes need to vary greatly from large corporations. Industry, size, workforce and much more should be considered when evaluating and improving processes.

Designing a customized process is an investment, but when done right, it pays off quickly. Taking the time to properly analyze the current process and strategically develop an alternative plan does not happen in one day. In some cases, it requires an outside source to evaluate and instruct as an unbiased voice.

In summary, large and small businesses have very different needs with it comes to improving processes. In some cases, the processes need to be thinned out, while on the other hand processes need to be developed and implemented. Technology can both help and hurt processes. If the technology is not professionally and strategically developed, it can cause overly complex landscapes, lack of oversight, and misalignment with the business strategy. Because of this, demand for technical and process improvement consultants is increasing. Either way, organizations that invest the time and resources in their process improvement plans see great success.

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