Here at Accelity, we love processes. Processes power everything we do, from onboarding new clients to setting our quarterly goals. As a project manager, processes are crucial to my work.
Naturally, I was excited that Jason Sayen joined our COVID-19 Business Strategy Open Forum as a guest speaker to share his insights on how companies can evaluate and document their processes during this time. Jason is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, which means he is an expert at helping companies become more efficient through their processes.
Here’s what we learned during this week’s forum on how to plan for the future by improving business processes during COVID-19.
Now is the time to evaluate your processes
As most of us remain under some sort of shelter in place order, we’re thinking of ways to continue improving our businesses while we await the days when we can operate fully. If your workdays are a little quieter, now is a great time to reevaluate your processes. Taking this time to eliminate any inefficiencies in your processes will save you time and money not only now but in the future.
One of the things many companies have learned during this time is just how important it is to run lean and efficient. If you can refine your processes to help your business run more effectively, you can save time and resources—something every business needs to evaluate regardless of current events.
One tool Jason shared for evaluating your processes is process mapping. Process mapping requires creating a map that refers to activities involved in defining what a business does, who is responsible, a defined standard of completion and how the success is measured.
To demonstrate how process mapping works in action, Jason walked us through a process map for a seemingly simple task: making breakfast. Grab your ingredients and voila, breakfast—right? Process maps require you to break out every step. You don’t just make breakfast; you have to prep the ingredients, cook them and finally serve the completed dish. Continuing to break down each step—and who is involved—helps to see where any bottlenecks, inefficiencies or redundancies occur.
Find Jason’s presentation in our COVID-19 Business Strategy Google Drive.
Another exercise that helps you to evaluate your processes is a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
If you’re considering whether you need to pivot your business, performing a SWOT analysis is an excellent place to start. Jason mentioned a bakery in Los Angeles that had to close up shop when the pandemic hit (threat) but pivoted to selling at-home breadmaking kits to take advantage of the increased demand (opportunity).
To perform a SWOT analysis, get the whole team together to brainstorm answers for each quadrant (use this handy worksheet to get started). Have one person collate and summarize the responses and major themes within each of those quadrants. This helps to make sure that everyone has the same understanding of how the company is performing.
Start your process evaluation
Look at the processes that are done daily/weekly/monthly first; these are the processes done most frequently. Choose 10 or 20 regular processes and rank them in order of importance. Work with the team to document every step of the processes.
It’s important to always designate a process owner. It doesn’t always have to be the same person, so long as there is a clear owner for each process who can serve as the internal expert and point person. However, it’s just as important to get your whole team involved.
There are many ways for your team to collaborate on evaluating business processes:
- Project management apps like Trello, Monday and Asana or online whiteboards (especially useful when we’re all working remotely)
- Whiteboard with sticky notes
- Flow charts
- Simply writing each step out
At Accelity, we’ve seen the benefits of regularly evaluating our processes, especially now. We work with everyone involved (project managers, developers, HubSpot, etc.) to get everyone’s input and to ensure their work is reflected before finalizing any new or updated processes.
While everything feels like it’s on pause, we’re forced to plan ahead for the future. Evaluating your business processes is an excellent way to improve operations now and to be better prepared for the future.