7 Effective Business Process Improvement Examples 

Have you ever wondered how streamlining just one key process could significantly elevate your company’s performance?

In an era where agile operations and maximum cost optimization are essentials for survival, business leaders need to be constantly asking themselves if their departments are understanding and implementing effective business process improvements.

In this article, we will dive into seven key areas where the practice of making existing processes faster, more accurate, more efficient, and more reliable can make a tangible difference. We will dive into common challenges, innovative solutions, and the transformative impacts of these improvements in processes such as:

  • IT incident management and how to streamline IT operations for faster resolution and improved service quality.
  • Request management and how to enhance efficiency and response times through centralized request handling in IT and HR.
  • Reducing shipping errors and improving customer satisfaction with automated verification and tracking.
  • Procurement process optimization to achieve cost savings and better supplier relationships with digital solutions.
  • Purchase order request process and how to increase accuracy and control with integrated digital systems.
  • Employee onboarding and how to streamline the integration for a more effective workforce.

Performance review process and how to leverage digital tools for more meaningful evaluations and continuous employee development.

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The goal of process improvements

Streamlining operations through process improvement involves eliminating redundancies, automating repetitive tasks and optimizing workflow efficiency. This leads to benefits such as faster turnaround times, increased productivity, and the ability to respond more swiftly to market changes.

According to Pipefy’s State of Automation Survey, 59.4% of business and IT leaders in the U.S. say the main benefit of adopting process and workflow automation technology is improving decision-making via access to better data. Improving agility (56.9%), cost savings (56.9%), and better collaboration (50.6%) come next as the most expected benefits.

Perhaps most importantly, effective process improvements directly impact the satisfaction of both employees and customers. For employees, streamlined processes mean clearer roles, reduced workload stress, and a more engaging work environment, which helps them stay productive and focused. For customers, improvements often translate into better service quality, faster response times, and an overall enhanced experience with the business.

7 process improvement examples

There are different process improvement methodologies that can be applied to varied business challenges. For this article, we will focus on how business process management (BPM) and business process automation (BPA) principles and technologies can be applied to examples of process improvements in IT, HR, and Procurement.

Incident management process

Incident management is a vital IT process used by IT and DevOps teams to respond to unplanned events that disrupt service quality. It focuses on quickly identifying, resolving, and documenting incidents to maintain normal service operations with minimal impact on the business. 

Distinguishing between incidents, service requests, and problems is key to effective management. Incident response is reactive, dealing with immediate issues, while problem management is proactive, focusing on preventing future incidents by identifying underlying causes.    

Incidents can range from minor glitches like printer errors to major disruptions like network downtime, which can significantly impact business operations. Efficient incident management ensures these problems are addressed promptly, keeping systems online and functioning optimally. 

A typical incident management process involves at least six key steps:

  1. Incident identification: Recognizing an issue through user reports or automated alerts.
  2. Logging and classifying: Documenting the incident and determining its priority level.
  3. Containment: In cases like security breaches, quickly containing the incident to prevent further system impact.
  4. Diagnosis: Investigating to identify causes.
  5. Resolution: Addressing the cause to resolve the incident.
  6. Closure and review: Conducting post-mortem reviews to obtain insights for future prevention and improvement.

Modern IT operations require sophisticated incident management tools and automation capabilities, which should enable monitoring, root cause analysis, incident logging, and prioritization. Here are some possible process improvements that can be made in a company’s incident management process through these tools:

Automated incident detection

By integrating an automated monitoring system that continuously scans their IT infrastructure, companies can detect and log incidents as soon as they happen, even before employees notice them.

Automated escalation protocols

Set a clear list of escalation protocols within the automated system. For instance, minor incidents like printer issues can be routed directly to level-one support, while major incidents like server outages should be escalated to senior IT staff immediately.

Real-time notifications 

Incident management systems can be configured to send real-time notifications to the IT team and relevant stakeholders, ensuring quick awareness and response.

User portal for incident reporting

The team can create a user-friendly portal where employees can report incidents not automatically detected. This also allows employees to view the status of their reported incidents, enhancing transparency.

Feedback and improvement loop 

After resolving each incident, the next step in the incident management process should be prompting IT staff and affected employees for feedback. This information can then be used to refine the incident management process continuously.

Adopting these improvements can mean substantial benefits for companies, including:

  • Reduced resolution time. Automated detection and clear escalation paths significantly reduce the time taken to respond to and resolve incidents.
  • Enhanced IT service quality. With real-time tracking and immediate escalations, IT services become more reliable, improving overall service quality.
  • Increased productivity. IT employees experience fewer disruptions and can stay focused on their core responsibilities.
  • Data-driven insights. The feedback loop provides valuable insights for ongoing process improvement.

IT request management process

A good IT request management process plays a crucial role in ensuring that requests for support, information, or specific actions are managed effectively, differentiating from incident management, which deals with unplanned IT disruptions. Proper IT request management is not just about responding to issues, it’s about facilitating daily business operations through structured and streamlined processes.

Unlike incidents, which are typically unplanned disruptions, service requests are routine and involve formal submissions by employees for resources or assistance. Common service requests include technical support, access to systems or equipment, and software or hardware assistance. The challenge in traditional IT request management lies in handling these requests systematically to avoid confusion, delays, and errors, which can be compounded by decentralized systems and manual processes.

Effective IT request management usually involves the following tasks:

  1. Request initiation, when employees submit their IT requests through a defined channel.
  2. Request assessment, in which the IT team evaluates each request to determine the appropriate course of action.
  3. Request fulfillment, when the request is assigned to and addressed by the relevant IT personnel.
  4. Request completion, when the request is completed or successfully addressed.
  5. Request follow-up, when the IT team may follow up to ensure satisfaction and gather feedback for process improvement.

To optimize IT request management, incorporating technology is crucial. Implementing a centralized request management system can significantly enhance efficiency by:

  • Streamlining request submission through a centralized portal, simplifying the submission process and reducing confusion and errors.
  • Automating categorization and prioritization so that requests are automatically sorted and prioritized, ensuring urgent or critical issues are addressed promptly.
  • Facilitating real-time communication via continuous updates and transparent communication channels keep requesters informed about the status of their requests.

Adopting these technological solutions can lead to substantial benefits for organizations, including faster resolution times, improved efficiency, and enhanced satisfaction among employees. By ensuring that IT requests are managed effectively, companies can maintain operational continuity, reduce downtime, and foster a more productive work environment.

HR request management process

Efficient request management is also crucial for HR departments to maintain employee satisfaction and operational effectiveness. However, the department often faces challenges in handling a high volume of diverse requests, such as leave applications, benefit inquiries, or policy questions. 

Streamlining HR request management using advanced technologies like centralized portals and AI-powered chatbots can significantly enhance the process.

Centralized request portals

Implementing a centralized portal for HR requests is a key step toward efficient request management. Such a portal serves as a one-stop shop for all HR-related inquiries and needs, ensuring that employees have a single, intuitive point of contact. This consolidation simplifies the submission process for employees and enables HR staff to manage requests more effectively.

AI-powered chatbots

Incorporating generative AI-powered chatbots into HR request management can further enhance efficiency and responsiveness. These chatbots can be integrated into the centralized portal, providing immediate assistance to employees including:

  • Automated responses for common inquiries. Chatbots can handle routine questions about company policies, benefits and procedures, offering instant answers and reducing the workload on HR staff.
  • Intelligent request routing. An AI-powered chatbot can analyze the nature of more complex queries and route them to the appropriate HR personnel, ensuring that specialized concerns are addressed by the right experts.
  • 24/7 availability. Chatbots provide around-the-clock support, making it convenient for employees in different time zones or those working unconventional hours.

Upgrading HR request management with a centralized portal and AI-powered chatbots represents a significant step towards a more efficient, responsive, and employee-friendly HR department. These advancements not only improve the employee experience but also enable HR teams to operate more strategically, leveraging technology to handle routine tasks and gather insights for continuous improvement.

Employee onboarding process

Employee onboarding is a crucial process for integrating new hires into an organization. It involves guiding new employees through the initial phase of their tenure, ensuring they become productive and engaged members of the team. Effective onboarding is essential for fostering a positive work environment and reducing the time it takes for new hires to become fully operational.

The process of onboarding is distinct from other HR functions, focusing not just on administrative tasks but also on cultural integration and role-specific training. Traditional onboarding methods, which can be manual and disjointed, often lead to challenges such as information overload, lack of clear guidance, and slow integration into the team and company culture.

A typical employee onboarding process involves:

  1. Orientation and introduction. Familiarizing the new hire with the company culture, team members, and work environment.
  2. Documentation and compliance. Ensuring all necessary paperwork is completed and legal requirements are met.
  3. Training and development. Providing role-specific training and development opportunities to equip the new employee with the skills needed for their position.
  4. Feedback and evaluation. Gathering feedback from the new employee and evaluating their progress to ensure a smooth onboarding experience.

To improve these processes, companies are increasingly turning to integrated digital solutions that offer automated task assignments, personalized experiences, and progress tracking. Here are some possible improvements that can be made in a company’s employee onboarding process through these tools.

Automated task management

By using a digital platform, companies can automate the assignment of tasks such as paperwork completion, training sessions, and initial meetings. This ensures a structured and efficient onboarding flow.

Custom onboarding plans

Tailoring onboarding experiences to individual roles and departments, ensuring relevance and higher engagement.

Shared inbox

Shared inboxes allow a company to increase visibility and make email management more collaborative. By assigning email threads to specific team members, HR analysts can leverage streamlined communication with successful candidates about to be hired and onboarded to save critical time for the team.

Real-time progress tracking

BPA platforms allow HR managers and new hires to track the completion of onboarding tasks across departments, enhancing transparency and accountability.

Feedback mechanisms

Integrating feedback tools to continuously improve the onboarding process based on new hire experiences.

Performance evaluation process

Traditional performance evaluation methods, often based on annual reviews, can lead to inefficiencies, including delayed feedback, bias, and a lack of engagement. Modern digital performance evaluation processes enhanced with automation capabilities offer more dynamic and meaningful evaluations, addressing these challenges effectively.

To enhance the effectiveness of performance evaluations, companies are adopting digital systems and processes that allow for more frequent check-ins and automated feedback collection. 

A modern employee evaluation process may include:

  • Regular check-ins. Digital platforms facilitate ongoing communication between employees and managers, providing immediate feedback and fostering a continuous dialogue about performance.
  • Customized processes. From performance evaluation input to building action plans, employers can choose the criteria, automatically send notifications for leaders and employees, and ensure all employees pass through the same evaluation flow.
  • Automated tasks. Companies can avoid rework and boost efficiency by automating repetitive tasks such as sending emails at every stage of the process.
  • Data-driven evaluations. Leveraging data analytics in performance reviews leads to more objective decisions, based on measurable outcomes and behaviors.
  • Data-driven evaluations. An optimized process makes it easy to track each employee’s evaluation and progression, helping improve their journeys and base decisions on real data.
  • Employee-driven development plans. Digital tools enable employees to set and track their development goals, promoting greater engagement and ownership of their professional growth.

By implementing these digital transformations, companies can shift from traditional reviews to more dynamic and meaningful performance evaluations without overburdening HR analysts. 

This not only enhances the effectiveness of the evaluations but also aligns with the evolving needs of the modern workforce, promoting continuous improvement and higher employee engagement.

Procurement process

An optimized procurement process is essential for organizations to maintain efficiency and competitiveness. Traditional procurement methods — often plagued by manual operations and disconnected communication channels — can lead to delays and inefficiencies. These challenges manifest in prolonged supplier selection, contract management issues, and difficulties in maintaining regulatory compliance. 

Businesses can address these bottlenecks by implementing digital tools and optimizing processes for areas such as supplier selection and contract management:

Digital supplier selection

Using digital platforms for supplier management simplifies the selection process. These systems can provide comprehensive databases of suppliers, complete with performance ratings, compliance records, and pricing details, enabling more informed decision-making.

Automated contract management 

Digital contract management tools store all contracts in a centralized repository. Features like automated alerts for contract renewals and compliance checks ensure adherence to regulatory standards.

AI-enhanced purchasing decisions

AI capabilities in procurement software can enable smarter purchasing decisions, optimizing the department’s activities based on historical data. AI can also provide insights for informed decision-making regarding other phases of the procurement process, as well as identify areas for improvement.

Enhanced communication and collaboration

Integrating communication tools within the chosen procurement process system facilitates seamless collaboration across departments, ensuring alignment on procurement decisions.

Personalized stakeholder portals

Companies can improve stakeholder engagement and communication by using customized portals for submitting invoices and monitoring process statuses.

Integrating these process optimization solutions leads to several benefits like: 

  • Cost savings. Efficient procurement operations and better supplier negotiations lead to cost savings and improved financial performance overall.
  • Controlled spending. Custom dashboards and AI capabilities provide real-time insights into spending, helping to manage and optimize budgets.
  • Improved compliance and risk management. Automated contract management ensures compliance with legal standards, reducing risks associated with contract negotiations and renewals.
  • Cross-functional harmonization. Integration with existing systems enhances coordination across different business functions.
  • Streamlined supplier selection. Digital platforms accelerate the supplier selection process, reducing the time taken to finalize procurement decisions.
  • Error reduction. Automation in various procurement steps reduces the likelihood of human error, enhancing accuracy.

Shipping process 

Efficient shipping processes are crucial for businesses, especially in the e-commerce sector. Shipping errors — such as incorrect address entries, wrong item dispatches and delays in order dispatch — can lead to customer dissatisfaction and increased costs from returns and reshipment. Addressing these challenges is essential for maintaining customer trust and operational efficiency.

Common causes of shipping errors include manual data entry mistakes, inadequate inventory management, poor communication between departments, and complex shipping processes. To tackle these challenges, businesses are increasingly turning to technology-driven solutions to improve and automate their processes, such as:

Automated verification systems

Implementing automated systems that cross-check order details against customer data and inventory records can significantly reduce errors in address entries and item selections.

Real-time tracking and inventory management

Upgrading to real-time inventory tracking ensures accurate stock levels on websites and helps reduce the chances of shipping wrong or out-of-stock items.

Customer self-service portals

Providing customers with self-service portals where they can verify and amend their order details can enhance accuracy and reduce the burden on customer service teams.

Custom workflows to prevent errors

Custom workflow software programs allow teams to design and implement automated workflows that mirror their specific shipping procedures. For example, a business can create automated sequences for order verification, packaging, labeling, and dispatching, ensuring that each step in the process is executed according to predefined standards and practices, minimizing the risk of human error and inconsistency.

Streamlined communication channels

Establishing direct communication channels between sales, warehouse, and shipping departments through process management software ensures any changes or updates in orders are communicated promptly, preventing misalignment.

Data analytics for continuous improvement

By integrating these tools, businesses can collect and analyze data points such as transit times, error rates and customer feedback. This data can then be used to identify patterns and trends. For instance, a recurrent error in shipping addresses might point to the need for better data validation at the order entry stage. 

Business process improvement and automation

The focus of process improvement is shifting towards solutions that not only enhance efficiency but also empower various business lines to independently build and maintain their workflows. Automation is a key solution in this context.

Pipefy’s Process and Workflow Automation Survey reveals that benefits such as improved efficiency, cost savings, reducing arrows, and conserving IT resources are among the main drivers for business leaders adopting process automation software.

Automation holds even greater transformative power when applied through no-code platforms. 

No-code automation extends beyond the traditional boundaries of IT, granting departments like HR, procurement, and customer service the autonomy to streamline their processes. 

This autonomy is crucial in rapidly adapting to changing business needs and implementing process improvements without waiting for IT intervention. For example, in areas like shipping and request management, automated systems can significantly expedite response times and improve accuracy, directly impacting customer satisfaction, and operational throughput.

According to the same Pipefy survey, the benefit business leaders most commonly anticipate from adopting no-code tools is making better use of IT resources. Cost savings, ease of use, and improved agility are some of the other benefits associated with no-code tools.

No-code automation extends beyond the traditional boundaries of IT, granting departments like HR, procurement, and customer service the autonomy to streamline their processes. This autonomy is crucial in rapidly adapting to changing business needs and implementing process improvements without waiting for IT intervention. 

For example, in areas like shipping and request management, automated systems can significantly expedite response times and improve accuracy, directly impacting customer satisfaction and operational throughput.

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Business process improvement to drive operational efficiency

The culmination of business process improvements and the strategic use of automation lead to a significant enhancement in operational efficiency across the company. For instance, in procurement and purchase order processes, the implementation of digital solutions and automated workflows translates into real cost savings, streamlined supplier relations, and rigorous compliance with regulatory standards. These improvements not only reduce the time and resources spent on these processes but also contribute to greater profitability, improved agility, and more strategic insights. 

Similarly, in HR processes like employee onboarding and performance reviews, digital transformation through business process automation leads to a more engaged workforce and a reduction in the time-to-productivity for new hires. The automation of routine tasks in these areas allows HR professionals to focus on more value-adding activities, enhancing the overall employee experience and contributing to a more motivated and productive workforce.

Business process improvements, particularly through automation, bring about measurable benefits. These include streamlined operations, cost savings, and an optimized tech stack, all contributing to the broader goal of maintaining a competitive edge in an evolving market. By empowering various business lines to manage their workflows, companies can achieve a balance between agility and control, paving the way to sustained operational excellence.

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