According to a 2010 Harvard Business Review article, the new business environment can be best described as turbulent, unprecedented, unstoppable, and unlikely to change anytime soon. The business landscape in most industries is changing quickly because of globalization, disruptive technological innovation, regulatory restructuring and other shifts and pressures, causing competitors, suppliers and customers to change as well. Thus, quickly adapting to market trends can be the key to staying open for business and even becoming the leader in the industry.
Optimizing Through Business Process Improvement
A business process is composed of activities or tasks that produce a service or product. Given the present volatile business situation, companies are always on the lookout for new ways, strategies and methodologies to improve their processes, become more efficient and better serve their customers. It is logical that to improve results, improving the process that gives those results is the best approach. Some of these methods and models are ISO 9000 Quality Management, DMAIC in Six Sigma, and CMMI.
Treating Process Improvement Initiatives as Projects
Business process improvement (BPI) is a systematic approach where a series of actions are applied to an existing business process to meet new goals and objectives. Although most business processes are operational in nature, deploying process improvement is not. Most goals of BPI will result in radical change in performance and create great impact. In short, they are better suited to be deployed as projects. Genius Project, an enterprise project management software, published a white paper about treating process improvement initiatives as projects and the importance of project management, particularly Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) as well as change management, in the implementation of these initiatives.
Going Through the Phases
Just like in any project, one of the steps in any process improvement initiative is creating a plan that takes into account a timeline, milestones, deliverables and documents that support the shift from the old way of working to the new way. It also requires knowledge transfer and continuous tracking best performed by a project lead. According to the Genius Project white paper, process improvement projects usually follow these phases:
- Project Kick-Off
- Identifying the process improvement need
- Analysis of current process in question
- Redesign of business process
- Pilot of improved process
- Presentation of process improvement to stakeholders
- Roll-out of improved process, and
- Measurement and evaluation of success
Getting Familiar with the OPM3 Framework
The Organizational Project Management Maturity Model or OPM3 was published by the PMI and is recognized as a best practice standard. Since the successful delivery of process improvement projects depends on the project management team and how it involves executives and staff, the maturity of the organization’s PM practice is also critically linked to the success of the process improvement initiative. The OPM3 framework helps deliver successful projects and provide program and portfolio management strategies and best practices that ensure the most valuable initiatives are prioritized and implemented.
A process improvement results in change that impacts not only how things are done but also the people and the organization that do it. It is therefore important to always include a strategy that manages resistance to change and organizational roadblocks. There should be constant communication to explain and promote the positive benefits brought about by the new process. The stakeholders and end users should be able to understand and be convinced that the end result of the process improvement will benefit the organization as a whole, even though change may be difficult at first.
Finding the Right Tool
Together with having the right organizational project management framework, it is essential to also have the right project management tool that can support process improvement projects. Genius Project has a role-based workflow engine that can manage different kinds of processes. Aside from workflow management, it also has functionality for phase and gate review support, risk and change management, document management, project tracking, project planning, and PPM.