Tools, Strategies & Methodologies to Improve Business Processes (Part 1)

In Business, Business Management, Culture, Improvement, Planning by Stephen Rogers

Last month I discussed what I observed during a recent visit to a Chinese manufacturing business in Guangzhou.  The business was successful in many ways, with a strong focus on continual improvement and growth.  Having looked at several hundred businesses during the last decade, (some successful, some not) I want to explore and provide, over the next few months, some guidance for organisations in general on tools, strategies and methods for improvement.

Let’s start with some basic tools for any successful business:

  • Strategic Plan – considering all of the relevant and important things that have the potential to influence your products or service, and how you plan to manage them, using SWOT or PESTLE analysis, contemplating a longer-term view. This reflects on your stakeholders including clients, supplies, competitors, markets, workers, shareholders, etc.  To be reviewed annually. (find out more about our Strategic Planning Services here)
  • Business Plan – how to apply the Strategic Plan into the year ahead, reviewed for implementation usually quarterly, and revised annually with the Strategic Plan, includes objectives and targets for the business relating to growth, products, services, etc.
  • Accounting package – to know your quoting/estimation, invoicing, ordering, profit/loss and cashflow, all businesses need some good book-keeping package to be aware and keep track of the dollars. There are so many in the marketplace depending on the size of the business, varying in price and functionality. I use Xero but there are others that tie into broader systems, like Dynamics 365, that manage a more holistic approach.
  • Processes – clearly defined step by step processes that explain what happens in the business are important to ensure consistency to achieve the right outputs. Process maps are a good visual tool that helps explain each stage, requirements, and inputs/outputs. (find out more about our Management Systems Consulting Services here)
  • Documentation – all businesses need some form of documentation, from manuals and procedures to forms and registers. Whether it explains what or how to do something, or is used to manage a record, documents are important, but only document what is needed to ensure that consistency we spoke about earlier.  A document management system may also be useful for control and sharing, such as Sharepoint.  Hardcopy documents are a thing of the past.
  • Other system tools – depending on the size of the business, other tools such as HR (including training), maintenance, or WHS maybe required to manage activities and improve reporting to stakeholders.
  • Lastly, your IT solution should reflect your needs, for connectivity to the world-wide web, allowing customers access to your webpage, personnel to access documents, and software to perform efficiently and effectively. I see so much time and effort wasted with internet lag, software crashing and outdated software tools.

Next month we will look into one of the strategies and methods to improve your business.