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7 Steps To Streamline Every Area of Your Business

Apr 9, 2008
Actually is increases by the 'square' of the number of steps involved. That is one step has a complexity factor 1 squared = 1. A two-step process has a complexity factor of 2 squared = 4, and ten 'steps' has a complexity factor of 100.

It make sense, if you have a task to make a phone call and you ask some one else to do it, the extra complexity of relaying information and the risk of that person not understanding and making mistakes increases significantly.

So it make sense to limit the number of steps in any process and thereby decrease complexity. But this is easier than it sounds. In complicated world, with complicated customer requests how do you simplify a process quickly and easily. Below is a step-by-step approach to simplifying business.

1. Map out the current process and ask your self if there is a better way. Be willing to and open to possibility that your current approach is wrong. Especially when there is some resistance, with lots of mistakes, complaints and errors. Don't slip into believing it is just a mistake and it can be fixed with a better staff member, or more discipline. Think of mistakes as process and system problems.

2. Define the Current Reality clearly. By defining the problem exactly you the solution often presents it self easily. Or at least the immediate next steps. Be absolutely honest with your self and your team about what situation exactly as it is today. Not the way you wish it might be. Define the scope of the problem; often we think problems are bigger than we think. Also define problems objectively and without blame.

3. Re organize the process. After mapping out the process it should become obvious where and how you can re organise the process. Processes and functions often evolve over time. Identify which parts of the process a Customer Value Add (CVA). That is they add value directly to the customer and what they will pay for. Identify the Business Value Add( BVA), that is the what the business must do in order to be in business, eg finance, meeting government regulations, and so on. And finally identify and eliminate the Non Value Add (NVA).

4. Restructure your resources and distribution channels to whee you get the most results. Look for the places where either 80% of the problems or opportunities come from 20% of the causes. In every process I have ever come across this relationship exists. Restructure the processes to either deal with or take advantage of those causes.

Continually restructure your activities and resources to those which produce the best results. Concentrate exclusively on the highest and best uses of you time and resources.

5. Re engineer. Look for newer, cheaper, faster ways to do certain activities and processes. Introduce technology to do what people previously did, and re use the people on higher value tasks.

6. Eliminate. Simply eliminate all Non Value Add activities. Eliminate and reduce all waiting times. Often files are only touched for a couple of ours but spend weeks in holding patterns. Outsource non core tasks, this is a form of eliminating.

7. Implement Control Plans. Now you have a new process and business, don't lose the gains you have made. Implement simple and effective control plan and Key Performance Indicators, and explain to everyone what they mean. When the process start to go out of kilter you will know where to look to fix the problem.

Then wash, rinse, and repeat. Move on to the next process and do the same. When market needs change, and they will, re-visit the processes and amend accordingly.

Finally, cycle time is critical, as customers perceive speed to equal quality. Not to mention they may have signed with another business.

You can begin to implement these steps immediately. These apply to every area of business and no problem is to complex, that it can't be improved. I have worked on incredibly challenging projects and reduced time to complete tasks from 63 days to 3 and increased quality at the same time. These steps are quite painless and the results are profound and compounding.
About the Author
Daniel Lock is a business consultant. Offering results-driven coaching and consulting to people wanting improve business results. Find out how you can make a serious difference in your business go to: http://daniellock.wordpress.com/
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