What is Process Improvement Anyway?

When you first started your business you probably faced a lot of new challenges and conducted careful research into the best website tools to use, the easiest accounting software to purchase, or how to manage employees. Now you’ve grown your business and it has started to feel like some things are just more time-consuming or cumbersome than you realized. It might be time to take a step back and focus on process improvement.

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What is a Process?

Your business is made up of hundreds (maybe thousands depending on your size and industry) of processes that make your business operate day-to-day. Some processes are simple, like how your employees record their time, and some are complex, like how your general ledger is structured to accurately account for income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. No matter how simple or complex a process is, they all have something in common: they either have tangible or intangible costs to your business.

Tangible costs are easy to measure. Imagine you have an employee who earns $15 per hour to stock your inventory room. The way your inventory room is currently set up, with the most common items in the back, takes the employee two hours per day to stock, costing you $30. Now imagine the inventory room is rearranged so that the most common items are in the front. Your employee can now complete his task in just one hour per day, saving you $15. If your inventory room is stocked on average three times per week, you just saved $2,340 every year!

Intangible costs are harder to measure but just as important (and often have a tangible cost associated too). Imagine your employees fill out paper time cards each day and hand or scan them to your bookkeeper at the end of the week. Throughout the week, if an employee makes a mistake they have to scratch out their time and correct it, potentially making it hard to read for the bookkeeper. Even if they don’t make a mistake, the bookkeeper could have a hard time reading what was written! This causes the employees and bookkeeper stress because they know there is a better way. Making the simple switch to electronic time cards, you have eliminated the intangible cost of stress from your employees and bookkeeper which will result in higher morale and productivity!

What is Process Improvement?

Processes, no matter how carefully thought out and researched, will become inefficient if not evaluated and updated with emerging technologies and norms. Process improvement is taking the initiative to identify, analyze, and improve the processes that make your business run and decreasing tangible and intangible costs.

I know, it seems like common sense that you’d be constantly improving your processes, but sometimes we all fall victim to “that’s the way it's always been done.” When we are the ones who started a process, or do it every day, we can be the worst people to identify inefficiencies. An outside person who is unfamiliar with the business’s processes, watching, recording, and asking questions can identify improvements that you, or your employees, may have overlooked countless times.

An outside person also brings a different perspective, background, and experience to your business processes. An easy example is to imagine you run a coffee shop with multiple locations. My background is in finance and banking, including overseeing several bank branches across the Yakima Valley. While coffee and banking might not have much in common on the surface, my experience in overseeing multiple locations could provide valuable tools and best practices that can be tweaked to apply to your multi-location coffee shop empire!

Overall, process improvement is taking a hard look at all the processes of your business and applying different perspectives, ideas, technology, and best practices to improve the efficiency of your business which will ultimately save you time and money!

Ready to Get Started

Now that you know the value of process improvement, reach out at www.propell3r.com/contact/ to talk about how Propell3r can help make your business run more efficiently!

About Propell3r

Most small business owners don't have enough time in their day to run their business effectively so we created a flexible and affordable process to help them with marketing, finance, and project management so they can have more time to follow leads, build relationships, and increase sales.

Propell3r was founded by Sam, Ben, and Kyle from Yakima, Washington. All three are passionate about helping small businesses be successful and grow. Find out more about the team at www.propell3r.com.

Sam Johnson