Process Efficiency Myths…Busted

Process efficiency myths busted NEOS

Every day we deal with clients and their business process challenges. When we start a new project, it’s not unusual for us to find that at least a few of the client leaders have fallen prey to some of the most common process efficiency “myths.” Have any of these myths taken hold in your organization?

Myth: I need to automate everything

Busted: You don’t. Automation is only one tool that increases process efficiency. You can boost efficiency by streamlining a process or procedure, redesigning a form or input screen, or adjusting approval levels, just to name three examples. In fact, efficiency can plummet if you just automate a current state process.

Myth: Handoffs should always be eliminated or automated

Busted: Certainly, looking at handoffs is the right place to begin a process efficiency initiative. In many cases, eliminating the handoff is the right thing to do; however, there are two factors to consider as part of that equation. First, what’s the cost/benefit to eliminating the handoff? If it costs more to automate the handoff or consolidate the activity than the anticipated benefit, maybe you can just leave the handoff where it is. Second, why is the handoff there? If it addresses a regulatory requirement or maintains a segregation of duties, you’ll need to replace that control before you can eliminate the handoff. To understand what could happen when compliance isn’t at the forefront of process decisions, read our whitepaper Sometimes, it’s Not about Efficiency, about one client’s automation mistake.

Myth: We can’t change it because it is a compliance issue

Busted: Wait, didn’t we just say that compliance controls shouldn’t be eliminated?  Just because something is compliance related doesn’t mean you can’t question it.  Inefficient controls can be replaced by better controls as long as they continue to comply with regulatory requirements and company policy.

Myth: If I hire a vendor, they will come in and fix the problem

Busted: Yes, vendors bring a lot of solutions to the table, and they can accelerate your accomplishments.  At the end of the day, though, you’re left to operate with your processes; you have the greatest stake in its success. Don’t depend on a vendor to have the same vested interest in the future state as you do.  Every stakeholder needs to be involved in the project of increasing efficiency in order to ensure adoption and engagement. Involving everyone who “touches” the process will lead to better results.

Myth: Only Lean/Six-Sigma Black Belts can redesign a process

Busted: Although Six-Sigma and Lean get a lot of press and attention, they aren’t the only options when it comes to analyzing, redesigning, and deploying processes. These formal models require significant investments (time and money) and an organizational commitment to succeed, and not every company or organization is positioned to make that happen. If you have those resources, great! If you don’t, that’s okay, too. You can map your processes, define your goals, collect metrics, and make intelligent decisions about process improvements without a Black Belt. The key is to put a consistent, repeatable approach in place and follow good standard practices. Companies without a Six-Sigma program can achieve amazing efficiency results, too!