Archive for

Business Process Consultant – Finding The Right Match For Your Needs

In the world of business and trade, there are simply too many areas to deal with for you to be an expert in every one. It is hard to sustain profitability and productivity if you are an entrepreneur who does everything alone, trying to master every area of your business. It usually make a huge difference when you seek professional advice, especially from those who are experts in the areas you need help with.

Take an honest look at your business. How able are you, really, to develop and run your business like you really want to? What can really help is to do away with making decisions based on your perspective alone. Instead, try acquiring better ways to recognize the suggestions and feedback from your colleagues. Even more effectively, consult a business process consultant to guide on a path that will improve the way your business performs. But how will you know that the agent in business process consulting is the right one you are looking for? Here are some quick tips for you to review.

Listens and answers to your questions.

One of the most important things to value is our listening ability. This is essential in all aspects of life to understand how simple things are going on. Some business process consultants are more interested in selling services than listening to people’s needs and then finding a way to have those needs be met. On the contrary, you have hired the right business consultant if they can really understand the situation and meet the needs of your company, by taking actions to deliver and implement the most effective and competitive ideas to people. Furthermore, business process consulting can lead you deeper on certain issues and get great results.

Cares about the quality of your ideas and implementation.

Watch out if your business process consultant does not care about your basic and important ideas — they can only worsen the situation. Remember to recognize the capability of your consultant before you are going to hire them so that they can truly maximize the success in your company and your investment for the future. A successful business process consultancy can help you work through whatever you need to work through to get the results you really want.

Holds you accountable to your commitments, actions, and performance

Business process management consulting always includes taking action, and business process consultants are there to make you follow through on the action you said you would take. That way, you get results: increased productivity, improved profitability, and even an energized company culture. But it always comes back to you doing the things you said you would do. Your business process consultant can provide you with the accountability system to do just that.

Business Process Development

Operational Awakening

I love Six Sigma and I love finance. It is my belief that the best odds for a business to exist in perpetuity is to structure the company around a central macro-process with many micro-processes within the macro-process. Companies that are process-centric are inherently mission focused. The main business process connects inputs with outputs. All micro-processes within the main macro-process support the central macro-process and again the company mission. Companies that are task-centric (as are the vast majority job small businesses) are overly reliant on a central figure, such as the owner or other critical team members.

I am an entrepreneur so I’ve had my share of successes and failures. I am convinced that the businesses I’ve owned that I structured around processes out performed the companies that were a team of individuals waiting for their next assignment. I’m not suggesting that people are sitting around waiting to be told what to do, but instead they have a job description that includes “and whatever else needs to be accomplished.” Process driven companies value the process and the positions within the process. Former legendary CEO of GE Jack Welch knew every product GE manufactured and every service it provided, but he didn’t know every employee. I haven’t had the opportunity to speak directly with Mr. Welch, but I think he could recite the processes that make up GE, but not the people that staff every step in the process and subprocesses.

The Approach

My last company doubled its revenue year/year five years in a row. The first doubling wasn’t a problem, the second doubling was painful; billing systems couldn’t keep up with production, collections slipped, purchasing was unchecked, product quality suffered, less innovation, etc. I realized I was fixing problems as they arose. I knew I had to do something that would help alleviate the operational pains of growth.

I sat down with a friend of mine and discussed the operations of the company. I could tell my friend what the company manufactured and I could tell him the names of its employees and their titles, but the details of their daily work was murky. I didn’t come across as confident as I should have.

I studied ISO 9000 and Six Sigma methodologies to see how they could be employed to improve business. Both methodologies are focused on developing repeatable processes with predictable outcomes. Ultimately, the goal is to do the same thing the same way every time to achieve the same result. Hopefully the process results in a high quality product and by continuing to do the same thing the same way the result is consistent high quality product.

Genesis

I set out to find out exactly what was going on in the company by interviewing every associate in the company. I also observed the team at work. Next I sat down in front of my laptop and began diagramming the work flow by following the money; the company diagram, or macro-process, began with sales and ended with collecting payment (I decided to follow the money, because that is what is important). Next step was to make sense of what everyone was doing in terms of the greater goal of the company: make money.

I began by creating a flowchart of the business beginning with a sales call and ending with collection payment for the product deliverable. Next I identified areas of multiplicity within the macro-process. Additionally, I put staff names next to each step of the process. What an eye opener.

Admitting the Problem

Some of the ah-ha moments included the times a single document was photocopied, five times for five different files. I was also able to identify my technology needs, such as what are the customer technology touch-points and how do we use technology within daily operations.

The next step in the analysis was to compare my actual financials and budget financials to the company process. The budget changed based on what the company was actually doing. Now I could make much better operational decisions because I truly knew the sensitivities of the company.

Outcomes

The result of this process was I was able to improve the processes within the company. This did not result in a reduction in workforce, but instead it resulted in increased output and improved quality. Additionally, my IT strategy became cogent. Having an IT strategy, even for a small business, reduced my IT costs and took that expensive, confusing and critical part of my company off my plate of concerns. Finally and most importantly the net revenue and net margin increased dramatically.

The company continued to grow and it grew within the parameters of the macro-process. In other words, the company grew but processes and job functions stayed the same. Everyone knew their job and they performed the same job no matter what the work load or revenue volume.

Why Business Processes Are Inefficient and You Can’t Change It

Last week I was watching the classic movie “Office Space”. I love the line where he owns up and tells the consultants “I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.”

Now, my personal belief is that most people put in more effort than that at work but I’d be very skeptical if the general population works a full 7 hour day. Granted they might be there for 7 or more, but are they really working and producing something of value?

Part of my role as a business consultant is to review operational processes and cut or modify unnecessary steps that consume time and therefore dollars, but don’t add value. I’ve worked on countless projects where I’ve asked an employee why they perform certain steps in a process and received the response “That’s the way I was trained to do it when I started”.

In fact, I’d boldly state that this is likely the number 1 reason inefficiency creeps into business processes. Over time systems, requirements and staffing changes, but instead of reviewing the business process and updating it, process owners simply add in the extra steps to achieve the final result without questioning the validity of existing activities.

If you can find an employee who takes initiative, questions the validity of what they’re doing and strives to improve their daily activity in order to feel good about the work they produce, you’ve found a superstar.

Sadly, many people at some point have tried to create change, but found themselves beaten down by a bureaucratic corporate culture or a boss that couldn’t afford the time to listen and “sign off” on proposed changes. Do you remember those days? Is that part of the reason you became an entrepreneur, so you can think for yourself and enjoy your work? To feel like you’re producing something of value? And yet, being an entrepreneur brings a bigger challenge. The responsibility and accountability for not just the work you produce for clients, but the way in which you conduct yourself every day and how you spend your time.

Are you busy doing a lot of things but not really getting anywhere? The problem is, unlike the employee performing valueless steps, no one trained you to do that when you started your business. You didn’t inherit a system that (albeit includes a few useless steps) produces results overall. No, you started from scratch and created your own systems and methods for getting things done.

So, my question to you is this, are you producing results in the most efficient way possible? Are you going about your business like a pro or an amateur?