In today’s climate many organisations are embarking on business improvement initiatives in order to protect or grow their businesses. You may have already embarked on your improvement journey to try to cut costs or maintain or gain your competitive edge. Often when setting up these initiatives businesses become completely focussed on a single element of the improvement. They don’t consider the four fundamental factors that influence successful business improvement. Let’s look at the four business improvement factors and see how they interrelate.
Factor One - Systems;
>> Many Businesses Think, that the development and implementation of a new computerised system is the answer to all operational and reporting problems. Or believe because they already have an operating system in place that they have been using for some time, that that will always be fit for purpose.
>> The Reality Is, that the development and implementation of your system is only the beginning of your improvement journey. A system is not a substitute for management action. If the system is not updated and used properly by the people within your business. It may as well not be there! Equally if your existing system is not reviewed and its performance objectively evaluated, overtime it will become detrimental to your business. Organisations operate at such a pace that things change and if the systems don’t change with them, then they become ineffective and damaging. When did you last evaluate the systems that are used within your business?
Factor Two - Processes;
>> Many Businesses Think, that the operational processes that have always worked, will continue to be effective and deliver profit. To change a process will cost time and money and that their teams are still following the processes that were implemented and documented years ago.
>> The Reality Is, that operational processes become out of date. Steps are introduced without careful consideration of the wider impacts, and slowly materials and time are introduced to make life “easier”, or to meet “customer” demand. This can cause your once efficient process to become inefficient. It will cost you more if you don’t change your inefficient processes. Teams are not always compliant and become complacent, if the process is not easily executed and intuitive. Often teams find short cuts, even if those short cuts cost you money. When did you last critique your operational processes?
Factor Three – Policies;
>>Many Businesses Think, that policies are put in place to satisfy a regulatory body or meet the needs of an accrediting body, that will award some sort of recognised badge, ITIL, ISO, H&S, IIP , the list is endless. Businesses believe that this will enable the organisation to gain status and recognition within their field. Some policies are enforced and are a legal requirement.
>>The Reality Is, policies should be put in place to improve the business and not negatively impact profitability. When a policy is implemented or enforced it is critical that the impact it will have on the profitability of the business is considered. The systems and processes required to adopt the policy successfully need to be in place, and most importantly your people need to be fully trained in its execution. It is critical not to implement a policy because a competitor has, or because you think it might be a good idea. When did you last review the policies that exist within your business and ensure that they are fit for purpose?
Factor Four – People;
>> Many Businesses Think, the people within the business should be committed and loyal because they are being paid. They also believe that if they give their people a new system to use, or train them in a new process that they will use it and follow it without question. Some managers think that if a new policy is introduced it will be adhered to and supported from the outset.
>> The Reality Is, the people within your business are the MOST influencing factor in determining whether your improvement initiative succeeds or fails. If the teams within your business do not use the system, follow the process or comply with the policy, your initiative will fail. The people within your business hold the key to its success; they can help you unlock its real potential. In order for your teams to do this you must ensure the following. Your team’s values and beliefs align to the goals and objectives of the business. The attitudes and behaviours of the people within your business are engaged and positive, and the communication within your business is concise, open and honest. Explain the need for the improvement and outline the benefits of the new system, policy or process. With your teams on board at the outset your initiative cannot fail. How engaged are the people within your business?
To ensure the full potential of any business improvement initiative is achieved, be sure to consider the four factors of influence. SYSTEMS, PROCESS, POLICIES and most importantly PEOPLE, Good Luck! To learn more about the factors that influence business improvement or how to get started then why not call me or email me email@example.com