How to identify your process bottlenecks?
Identifying the flaws on your company’s processes is not an easy exercise and can’t be accomplished without dedicating time and effort. Many companies seem to insist on using old, outdated processes even though they’re no longer as effective as they used to be. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to take a step back, really look at your processes and work on identifying the bottlenecks and constraints
Your process bottlenecks, as we’ve gone over on this post, are bumps on the road of the smooth path that should be your processes – they’re barriers between you and your company’s established goals. Here are a few important general ideas you should consider in order to identify and manage process bottlenecks.
Identifying (and solving) process bottlenecks:
Map and analyse your processes:
We’ve gone over the subject of mapping your processes – and how important it is – more than once before here on the blog, so we’ll keep this short. Mapping your processes and looking at them from the outside allow you to analyse their overall performance. It also allows you to identify the existing bottlenecks – they’re the steps that, due to the lack of capacity or even performance, restrict your production capacity.
Thoroughly analysing your processes may also be just what you need to find those unforeseen improvement opportunities. When in doubt about how to map your processes and overcome the difficulties, look at your competition: what do their processes look like and how do they overcome the bumps on the road? This will not only give you a clear vision but also ensure your competitive edge.
Identify the problems and their causes:
Once you’ve mapped your processes and their steps, it’s time to list those critical problems, the ones responsible for diminishing your processes effectiveness and create process bottlenecks. It’s important to make this an interactive process, involving all the people encompassed by the processes and allowing them to single out mistakes or flaws an outside observer may not realise.
Work out solutions:
Now you’ve already singled out your process bottlenecks, you’re able to look at them objectively and start looking for ways to solve these problems. This is another step in which the participation of all those involved is highly encouraged – the more, the merrier! Working as a team, with different points of view and ideas, may be exactly what you need to find creative and effective solutions.
Stimulating interaction will not only provide you with a wide range of ideas, it’ll also keep the team integrated and committed to the changes that may be needed.
Implement and evaluate the improvement ideas:
It goes without saying that the team must be kept on the loop on all steps of the improvements implementation . From mapping the processes and identifying bottlenecks, passing through the search for solutions until elaborating and implementing an action plan.
It’s important to keep the improvement process dynamic and constantly re-evaluate the results – most likely, the first idea for a solution won’t be the perfect answer to the problem. Constantly looking at it and evaluating it will give you the necessary information to make any adjustments – or even start developing a plan B.
Always have alternatives:
Don’t disregard any alternative presented when looking for solutions to your problems – all options must be considered as plan B (or C, or D) in case the one you’ve decided to apply don’t go as well as planned.
As we’ve said, it’s essential to know and monitor your processes on a regular basis to keep them updated and effective. Even old, established processes, may lose their effectiveness and need an update from time to time. As it is with people, processes can’t be set in stone and must be flexible enough to adapt from time to time.
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