Building Excellence with Business Process Improvement

By definition, Business Process Improvement, BPI is a long-term strategy to improve your business in terms of customer value and satisfaction, quality, speed to market, flexibility and reduced cost. Specially in today’s economic climate where the oil price has fallen from 100 USD pr. barrow down to 30-40 USD pr. barrow many businesses are looking at short-term strategies just to survive.

So how do you balance the current reality with the need to pursue BPI initiatives for the future? This is not an easy dilemma to resolve but what is clear from looking at the history of successful companies is that long-term strategies, such as continuous improvement, cannot be abandoned if future growth and success for the business is the objective.

One of the primary objectives of BPI strategies is to increase the skills and capabilities of all employees so they can effectively engage in problem solving at work.

Organisations understand that enhancing the skills of your people can make your business perform better – and in fact this is one of the most important aspects of continuous improvement – but how do you balance this with the current business conditions?

One of the business transforming cased that Dr. Hole led was the transforming of Lindorff Accoounting to Mirror Accounting. Dr. Hole was the Director of the Project Management Office, PMO. The PMO was responsible for the whole turnaround process of the organization. There were three major projects:

  • Operational turnaround (Closedown one production site and building up two new offshore productions sites, layoff, hiring, training, etc.)
  • Increased Utilizations (Standardising business processes)
  • MA BPO (Technology, new ERP systems

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In the above mentioned case one used three of four components of the TIPS model. There was training and developing of employees, the work process was standardized and technology was standardized to support the work process and support the employees.

What became apparent from this enlightening and highly engaging of employees was how the business process improvement process contributed to organizational change, and helping the employees in Mirror accounting to renowned businesses processes and using technology to support the work processes. This contributed to a customer driven process rather than “cost” focused.

In this case one manged to engage all staff to deploy appropriate quality and business improvement mechanisms across their respective business divisions, with the one common goal of ensuring improvement adds value, reduces any margin of error and strives to continuously build on capability. Much of this continuous improvement engagement process focuses on “lean management” where enhanced customer experience, efficiency and cost reduction are critical to success.

Organisations know that rising to the challenge of adopting these lean principals requires talented people and developing a self-sustaining pool of lean experts to carry forward the transformation has to become the focus too.

The management philosopher Dr. Hole who is a dedicated evangelist on business process improvement and in business excellence matters. He stated that the basis of business excellence is a strong and clear vision and a logical, applicable strategy, comprehensible to everybody inside and all partners outside of the organisation, to adopt. This is the fourth component of the TIPS model.

He stressed that this is not about writing down strategic goals. It is about measuring and monitoring the achievement of targets. So you have to define strategic outcomes and key performance indicators. It’s crucial to communicate the vision and strategy, the current status and the objectives of the organisation to everyone associated with the business. Once everyone knows, understands and accepts the strategy as well as the targets they’ve received, they will work on them with commitment and enthusiasm, and – most importantly – pull together in the same direction towards a vision.

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