Economics/Business

What is process optimization/importance/benefits/How to optimize

When your company’s professionals don’t deliver the expected results, it’s normal to start an investigation into what might have happened and what should be done to improve your efficiency. However, the problem does not always originate in people, what the organization really needs is process optimization.

A company’s processes determine the pace at which things happen and the way people perform activities. Even with high-quality professionals and adequate profiles, without a good structuring of processes, the business tends to stagnate and even set back its results.

Therefore, in this article, we will leave the analyzes related to human capital a little aside to talk about process optimization. Here, you will learn what it is, why it is so important, and what benefits are provided to the organization. Also, we will explain how to implement and give tips on tools that help a lot in this mission. Check out!

What is process optimization?

Process optimization is a set of practices that aim to implement constant improvements in a company’s processes, in order to mitigate risks, minimize bottlenecks and enable better results. In this sense, it can, and should, be applied in all business processes and in all its sectors. 

How important is it to optimize business processes?

Thus, a process that works well, without obstacles or friction, promotes a more comfortable working environment for employees. It’s something that lets everyone know what they need to do, when to do it, and how it should be done. All of this brings more security and reliability, especially for analyst and planner profile contributors.

What are the benefits of process optimization?

Any type of optimization generates positive results, after all, that’s the goal. In the case of process optimization, the benefits are perceived in all sectors of the company, in its general results and even in the organizational climate, as we will see below.

Improved efficiency

The first benefit we will highlight is also the one most sought after by entrepreneurs when adopting measures to improve processes, which is the gain in efficiency. Companies that seek to implement a more innovative management , focused on results, need processes to flow smoothly to achieve their goals.

Here, optimization works to investigate each step of the processes in search of points for improvement. Even small changes can generate large effects, as the impacts reverberate throughout the entire chain. Thus, each change is added to the previous one and, in the end, better results are obtained.

Cost reduction

The composition of costs for any type of product or service depends on how they are prepared and this translates into their processes. In many cases, applying changes in a few steps is able to reduce not only the use of materials in manufacturing, but also helps in better organization of time , which increases the delivery capacity of each professional.

risk mitigation

Another very important point in process management is the contingency of risks, which will always exist, but which must be identified and mitigated. The process mapping phase is responsible for raising all the points that require more attention and that can generate a problem or negative effect in case of failures.

Through process optimization, all these points are duly evaluated and treated, in order to create solutions that bring greater security to the execution of tasks. This ranges from physical issues, such as the use of protective equipment to handle hazardous materials, to behavioral issues, such as guidance on prohibited terms in customer service.

Increased problem solving ability

Finally, process optimization is also capable of helping professionals to increase their awareness of possible problems and the most appropriate ways to treat them preventively. 

First of all, this happens because people get to know the processes better and they already have all the risks mapped, therefore, they are already aware of the steps to be taken in case any of them appear.

Secondly, because all this knowledge also allows, in the event that something that had not yet been foreseen happens, the professionals who deal with that process on a daily basis are more capable of acting on a solution with agility and precision.

How to optimize company processes?

Process optimization is very important for a company, but it needs to be done in an orderly and correct way. Then, look at the key steps to follow to ensure a successful implementation.

Map current processes

The first step in optimizing processes is to get to know them in depth. For this, it is necessary to carry out a mapping, which involves several activities, ranging from the listing of all the company’s processes and their stages, to the design of all interactions, inputs and outputs of each one of them.

At the end of the mapping, the company has in its hands an x-ray of the processes, in which it is possible to see what is behind the deliveries made and how everything is done in the smallest details. This step is essential to support the next steps, so it must be carried out very rigorously.

Identify bottlenecks and improvement points

After mapping the processes, inevitably, some improvement points will be identified without great efforts. These tend to be the most impactful and, consequently, the most urgent to be resolved. 

So, don’t be surprised if you find faults that seem quite obvious, because when we don’t properly control the processes, they end up becoming much more frequent than usual.

At this point, it is also interesting to dig a little deeper into each process to identify the bottlenecks that can be addressed. Some may have easy and quick solutions to be applied and may already undergo more immediate changes, speeding up the achievement of improvements in results.

implement changes

Implementing changes is at the heart of process optimization. Therefore, it must be carefully planned, considering the prioritization of processes according to the level of importance for the business and the severity of the problems they present. 

During this phase, it is essential that people are involved both in proposing solutions and implementing changes. Still, it is essential that all professionals who will have their routines modified are properly trained to provide a smoother and more successful evolution.

Create a process monitoring routine

After renewal, each process needs to be monitored to verify if the changes are having the expected effects, if they are not generating any adverse effects that had not been foreseen and if the results are satisfactory. 

This should become an ongoing practice in the teams’ daily lives, in order to enable a prompt identification of new problems. This prevents small bottlenecks or deviations from becoming bigger and more serious, and also from interfering with the organizational climate, avoiding stress for employees.

Review processes periodically

Finally, process optimization is a constant and endless job. There will always be improvements to be implemented, whether by fixing problems, or by adopting new methodologies and technologies, or even by offering new products and services to the market. Furthermore, there is always a process that can be improved as the world is constantly evolving. 

Ideally, your company doesn’t wait for everything around it to change before thinking about internalizing those changes. By maintaining a practice of periodic review of processes, the organization is able to anticipate trends and outperform the competition in delivering higher quality products and services to customers, with the lowest costs for the business.

What tools help to optimize processes?

Process optimization goes through different stages, as we saw in the previous topic, and each one of them can be performed with the help of specific methodologies that make everything easier, more practical and more efficient. Below, we list the main tools used by companies during the implementation of process improvements. Check out!

BPM (Business Process Management)

BPM or business process management, in Portuguese, is one of the most used methodologies in business process optimization. It covers all stages of optimization, from mapping to periodic review of processes, allowing action to be taken in an organized and structured way.

The methodology is mainly based on the design of flowcharts that represent the processes during the mapping phase, identifying the agents that interact with it at each stage, in addition to the inputs, processing and outputs. Furthermore, it allows a more accurate prediction of the effects of changes when redesigning the flows, which increases the security and reliability of the optimization. 

kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese method of process improvement that is also widely used and is based on 4 main pillars, as described below:

  • labor: corresponds to the improvements that can be adopted in people management, especially with regard to training and development;
  • method: related to the way processes are carried out, always looking for faster, cheaper and more efficient ways;
  • materials: concerns the use of materials in the manufacture of any product, prioritizing the minimum possible stock to reduce various costs;
  • machines: here the concern is with the maximum efficiency of the equipment, from the source and use of energy, to the routine of preventive maintenance.

Pareto’s law

Pareto’s law was developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who said that 80% of problems are caused by 20% of causes. In practice, this implies investigating the problems that the processes have been presenting in search of their common roots. Resolving these roots will impact the solution of most problems.

This makes it easier to prioritize and better target efforts and focus them on actions that tend to have greater effects.

Brainstorm

Brainstorming or brainstorming is a more general tool, but it is very useful in some stages of process optimization, especially when it is necessary to find solutions to identified bottlenecks and problems.

It is a very simple method, in which some people get together to get ideas about a particular subject. The purpose is to let the imagination flow freely and all suggestions, even if they seem absurd and meaningless, be noted down. 

After everything is registered, they are organized in order to find the most suitable and applicable ones.

Ishikawa diagram

The Ishikawa diagram is a tool for organizing ideas widely used in conjunction with brainstorming. Also called a cause-and-effect diagram or a fish scale diagram, it consists of ordering the effects perceived in the processes according to their probable causes.

Here, each company must use the causes that best fit their reality, but, in general, the most used are:

  • methods;
  • feedstock;
  • labor;
  • machine;
  • measure;
  • environment.

kanban

Kanban is a methodology for organizing the flow of tasks that can be used in the daily life of various sectors, such as in HR , and that helps a lot in the process of implementing changes that occur in a process optimization. 

Furthermore, it consists of the visual organization of tasks in columns according to their status. In general, the following are used:

  • to do;
  • making;
  • done;
  • waiting.

In this way, everyone on the team can readily view the progress of activities to manage them in a more practical and efficient way.

Process optimization is a highly beneficial practice for the organization. It ensures improvements in process efficiency and, with it, gains ranging from saving time and resources to increased productivity and profits. So, if your company has not yet adopted measures for this improvement, take advantage of the tips and get started!

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