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  • Writer's pictureMichael Sena

Maximizing Efficiency: Expert Strategies to Refine Organisational Processes

In an era of rapid technological advancement and evolving business landscapes, staying nimble and efficient is paramount. Process improvement is a consistent focus across businesses, and while the end goal is always to optimise and enhance, the strategies to get there may differ widely.


In this compilation, 15 seasoned industry leaders shed light on their unique approaches to refining processes. From employing AI for workflow automation to emphasising iterative refinements, their shared experiences offer a treasure trove of insights.



Whether at the helm of a startup or guiding a multinational conglomerate, the advice presented herein promises to enrich your playbook for process improvement.



Iterative Refinement in Project Management

Our approach to process improvement revolves around continuous feedback and iterative refinement. For instance, we recently noticed inefficiencies in our project-management workflow. We gathered input from team members, identified bottlenecks, and implemented a new software solution tailored to our needs.

Post-implementation, we saw a significant reduction in project delays and improved team collaboration. The key takeaway is the importance of actively seeking feedback and being adaptable to change for optimal efficiency.


Khurram Mir, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Kualitatem Inc.


Take a Recipe Approach

In my organisation, process improvement is similar to refining a complex recipe. Just like a recipe is made of multiple ingredients, our processes comprise varied activities. I zoom into each activity, understanding its contribution to the bigger picture. Are they executed correctly? Are they delivering the desired value? If not, it's time for a deep-dive analysis to pinpoint the gaps.


Here's a relatable example. Suppose we are handling customer complaints. We look at every step from the customer's initial contact to the solution provided. If we find complaints are taking too long to address, we analyse which activity is causing the delay. Is it the time taken to assign the complaint to a team member? Or perhaps the resolution step itself? Once identified, we test new strategies, like a faster assignment method or specialised training for quicker solutions.


The big takeaway? Never view processes as static. Regularly examine, measure, and refine.



Learn from Top Performers

In our organisation, improving a process starts with a careful review and measurement of the current way of doing things. We look closely at how the best-performing team members (A-players) handle the process, noticing any special methods or tricks they may use to get better results.


For example, we recently examined our customer service workflow. We found that our top performers were using a specific tool to track customer interactions more efficiently. By analysing this, we learned that this approach saved time and improved customer satisfaction. We then applied this method across the team, modifying the process accordingly.


The main takeaways were that slight changes could lead to significant improvements, and that looking to our best team members for insights could reveal hidden opportunities for making things work better. It's about understanding what works and applying that knowledge more broadly.



Lean on Data-Driven Insights

Process improvement within our organisation follows a systematic approach. We begin by identifying bottlenecks or inefficiencies through data analysis and employee feedback.


For instance, in our customer support, we noticed delays in response time. We then redesigned the ticketing system, automated routine inquiries, and implemented better routing. As a result, response time improved by 40%, customer satisfaction increased, and agents could focus on more complex issues.


The key takeaway is that involving employees, data-driven insights, and incremental changes lead to impactful enhancements in efficiency and overall performance.



Automate Repetitive Tasks

As a software company, we have a very developer-centric culture. Since that is my background, I have taken it into the operations side of the business. It's natural for me to automate processes for customers, so we do the exact same thing within the business.


The end result of any process improvement should be to automate and standardise the repetitive, boring 80% so we can focus on the very important human tasks in the remaining 20%.



Combine Lean Thinking and Collaboration

A systematic approach to process improvement is crucial for any organisation's success. We implemented this in our customer-onboarding process, where we meticulously mapped each step and identified bottlenecks.


As a result, we eliminated delays, reducing onboarding time by 40%. The experience highlighted the value of collaboration and stakeholder involvement. By pooling diverse perspectives, we harnessed our team's collective expertise for innovative solutions and impactful change.



Embrace the DMAIC Framework

In our organisation, process improvement is a systematic endeavor focused on enhancing efficiency and outcomes. For instance, in our customer support department, we identified a bottleneck in issue resolution. We initiated a process-improvement project using the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) framework from Six Sigma.


Define: We outlined the problem - extended resolution times affecting customer satisfaction.


Measure: Data analysis revealed the average resolution time and identified peak load periods.


Analyse: Root-cause analysis pinpointed software limitations and communication gaps.


Improve: We implemented automation tools and revised communication protocols.


Control: Regular monitoring and team feedback ensured sustained improvements.


Key takeaways were a clear problem definition, data-driven insights, collaborative solutions, continuous monitoring, and that agile adjustments form the core of successful process improvement.



Discover, Design, Deliver

Our process enhancement hinges on the “Discover, Design, and Deliver” approach.


First, we “Discover” inefficiencies by diving deep into metrics and obtaining team insights. Armed with this knowledge, we “Design” targeted interventions, emphasising both effectiveness and ease of adoption. Finally, we “Deliver” the revamped process, typically starting with a pilot phase for real-world assessment.


For instance, inventory management was a recurring challenge. Discovery revealed outdated tracking methods. Our design phase introduced an AI-driven inventory system. With its delivery, stock discrepancies reduced significantly.


The key takeaways were that embracing technology can revolutionise traditional processes, frontline employee insights often illuminate the path forward, and we can measure success in sustainable improvements, not just initial fixes.


Ranee Zhang, VP of Growth, Airgram


Leverage AI for Content Creation

In my role at 88Stacks, I leverage generative AI to enhance our processes. For instance, we employed AI algorithms to automate content creation and streamline our workflow to free up resources.


This experience underscored the significance of embracing technology-driven solutions for efficiency gains and innovation. The main takeaway is that incorporating AI-driven solutions enhances operational efficiency while also promoting continuous improvement.


Jay Toy, General Manager, 88stacks


Conduct Value Stream Mapping for Dispatch Efficiency

Value Stream Mapping is a tool I've used in my continuous pursuit of improvement. A notable instance was when I implemented it to address a bottleneck in the dispatch of training materials to instructors.


By creating a visual representation of every step, we could identify where delays were happening. Consequently, we restructured certain segments, eliminated inefficiencies, and achieved a 25% speed-up in dispatch times.


Taimur Khan, Operations Manager, AED TRAINING


Digitally Transform Client Onboarding

Process improvement has always been integral to our agency's evolution. We've embedded a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, always questioning if there's a more efficient way to achieve our outcomes.


A notable instance was when we reviewed our client onboarding process. Initially, it involved multiple emails, physical meetings, and manual data entry, often leading to delays and potential errors. We transitioned to a streamlined, digital onboarding system, incorporating online forms and virtual meetings, which expedited the process and reduced inaccuracies.


From this experience, two main takeaways emerged. It reinforced the value of embracing technology to enhance operational efficiency. Automating repetitive tasks saved time and reduced the margin for error.


It also highlighted the importance of regular introspection. In periodically assessing and refining our processes, we could maintain agility and responsiveness, ensuring we always delivered the best service to clients.



Use Trello for Process Documentation

We work with Trello, a project management software. Every step of our marketing process is documented there.


For example, if the task is to write and upload a piece of content to the website, the steps would be as small as “go to the editor in Shopify,” “click add a new post,” “paste the content into the editor,” and so on.


These tasks become second nature, but documenting them this way means someone has taken responsibility for the action when they've completed it.


When you work like this, you can spot holes in the process, too. Plus, processes are easily built upon when a new layer, such as sharing the content with various marketing teams, is added. Since the foundations of the process already exist, it's fairly straightforward to add additional steps. This keeps teams working seamlessly together and prevents silos.


Processes such as this can be added to onboarding processes so new team members are trained with ease and understand how the company operates.


Shelley Martin, Co-Founder and CEO, Skinician


Encourage the Adoption of Communication Platforms

Often, I use project-management, communication, and other platforms to improve processes, and the hardest part is to get people into the habit of using them.


One method of encouraging project-management platform adoption is to have team meetings where members engage the platform directly. I give people plenty of notice ahead of such meetings, so that they can prepare to show the group what they've worked on. Then, during the meetings, we'll do live updates.


To encourage the use of communication platforms, I will sometimes use a familiar medium to drive people where I want them to go. For example, if I find that people aren't using Slack but are heavy on email, I'll send them an email to check Slack for an update, rather than sending those updates through email. It's an effective way to get people to log in and use the systems we want them to adopt.


The bottom line is to create an environment where adoption is mandatory but doesn't feel forced.


Dennis Consorte, Digital Marketing and Leadership Consultant for Startups, Snackable Solutions


Streamline Sprints in Bookkeeping

We enact "Streamline Sprints." Teams participate in week-long, focused sessions to optimise processes. In bookkeeping, we revamped data entry by integrating automation tools.


The takeaway is that continuous, short sprints foster innovation and empower teams to take ownership, resulting in efficient processes. It's like financially auditing our workflows, driving evolution through targeted bursts of improvement.


Julia Kelly, Managing Partner, Rigits


Make Minor Changes for Big Improvements

Methodically, we've gone from a company centered on one idea—that sticking a tablet to the wall to tell if a meeting room is free or not—to a fully fledged hybrid workforce management solution business over our dozen years in business. Going from step A to where we are now has been a methodical process.


Process improvement is, in my mind, a result of incredibly small, incremental changes over time rather than a fully reimagined process implemented right away. As the character of the process, and the solutions it powers, changes, we gradually introduce small changes here and there to keep it optimised rather than waiting and making big updates down the line.



Conclusion

Process improvement is not a mere buzzword—it's an ongoing commitment to innovation and excellence. As our esteemed contributors have illuminated, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Whether it's data-driven analysis, leveraging modern technology, or taking cues from top performers, every method has its merit.


The key lies in understanding your organisation's unique needs and dynamics, being receptive to feedback, and maintaining an unwavering focus on continuous refinement. As the business landscape continually evolves, so too should our processes.


Embrace change, champion adaptability, and remember that even the slightest tweak can catalyse monumental improvements.

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