Evans Incorporated

Thrive in Five: Business Process Improvement 101: Efficiency

Thrive in Five
Evans Incorporated’s 25 Year Anniversary is approaching, so we’re taking the next few months to reflect on where we are currently and what’s to come! This includes highlighting one of our areas of specialization per month through September. The focus for the month of June is Business Process Improvement.

Business Process Improvement is all about efficiency throughout the whole company, so it’s important to understand what makes people and businesses efficient. We’ve done the research and gathered the most relevant and helpful tips in this Thrive in Five to help you reach your maximum efficiency. Our own Bonnie Wald, experienced BPI consultant, shares her own thoughts on implementing Business Process Improvement in the workplace.

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How to be MORE Efficient

Follow these tips to increase your efficiency:

  • Know what your goals are: Staying focused on the goal will help keep you on track and focus on the things that bring you closer to your goal. If you’re improving your business with BPI, every change you are seeking should be in alignment with your goals. Write your goals down, both personally and professionally. Look for opportunities to impact them. Analyze what contributes most to your goals and look for ways to change that.
  • Focus on one thing at a time: This goes for yourself and your business, from individual processes to your corporate vision. If you’re trying to work on several things at once, or if your business is trying to navigate many objectives, there’s a good chance efficiency is at stake. Multitasking is tempting, and if you can kill two birds with one stone, that’s great, but most of the time, multitasking in your own work and in your business adds more time than it saves. As a general rule of thumb, you should work on things for a minimum of 20 minutes before switching to the next task. For businesses, as simple as possible is a great place to start.
  • Take a break: This is more for yourself than for your business, but it’s important to give yourself time to re-charge. Working on an empty battery does nothing for productivity. In fact, work-life balance is important for productivity, and research indicates that people who work more than 55 hours per week accomplish NO MORE than people who don’t.

  • Set a Schedule: Setting a deadline for tasks (and sticking to them) will help keep you focused and on top of your time. This goes for meetings, phone calls, project deliverable due dates and time to work on them, planning for travel time, and more! While planning a schedule is important, try not to book every minute of every day. Leave some “dead space” for unforeseen changes and distractions. Be realistic! If you make a schedule and track how much time things really take, you’ll get a better idea of how much time different tasks realistically require and can plan better next time.
  • Work on your communication skills: quick, poorly planned communication can add a deceivingly large amount of time to your schedule. Take the time to think about what you’re communicating about, how you’re communicating it, and who you’re communicating to. Taking the extra time in the beginning will save you a lot of time in the end. This also applies to your business. Communicating your vision, mission, and processes, and then training employees on the whole picture will make things run smoother and will make your business more efficient.

Apply the Five!

Identify a process you do that just doesn’t work smoothly. Identify the end goal or vision, and then write out the steps you usually take to complete the process. Look at all the steps in the process, and ask yourself for each step, “Does this step help me reach my vision?” If your answer is no, ask, “Is this step necessary?” If not, eliminate the step. If it is, see if there’s another way to do this step that will help you get closer to your end goal. The purpose of this exercise is to see how simple and focused you can make the process. The end result should resemble the most efficient way to complete the process while still focusing on achieving the end goal.

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Bonnie Wald!

I joined the workplace in a technical capacity as a systems engineer with IBM. What I soon discovered was that technology couldn’t achieve its goals unless it was in strategic alignment with the big picture: the business objectives, work processes, and organizational culture. It completely changed the equation with clients. Instead of focusing on the capabilities of a new hardware or software product, I found that I needed to help the client determine the alignment (if any) for the product within their organizational framework.

Doing a root problem analysis often helps determine what needs to be redesigned. One technique is the five whys: Why is this a problem? Why is that a problem? And so on. Only when you know the reasons for the challenge that your facing are you ready to start redesigning the processes, changing the organizational structure, and creating initiatives to impact the culture.

When Evans does business process improvement, we work with our clients to understand their goals. Is it a matter of reducing errors or is process time the problem? Are there disconnects between the work that is done by different people or different groups?

There’s a lesson in that for all of us, in both our personal and professional lives. Start with your goals and understand that changing any element of your life will have implications in every other element. Look at the processes holistically and don’t forget how they interact with each other and with your goal.

Until Next Time…
The Evans Thrive Team
(Nicole, Kaitlin, Laura, Bob, and Sean)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

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