The Process of Improvement
The natural instinct for any business director is to think about outcomes. What is the company’s profit margin? What does the sales pipeline look like? Can the business afford to invest in growth? Results, it is widely believed, are all important.
Such a belief is, however, dangerous. If a business focuses entirely on the end goal, it may never get there. They key is to ensure that businesses do not just think about “where do we want to go?” but also “how do we get there?”
Bill Gates identifies business processes as a key area for attention:
“Virtually every company will be going out and empowering their workers with a certain set of tools, and the big difference in how much value is received from that will be how much the company steps back and really thinks through their business processes…thinking through how their business can change, how their project management, their customer feedback, their planning cycles can be quite different than they ever were before.”
Accredit UK assessors have found many times that businesses grow without really looking at how they do things. The result is that they often hit a wall – how can they continue to grow? In such cases business planning or formalised marketing is often missing. On other occasions companies find that they have issues with staff – this stems from organic growth without formalised personnel management processes.
Business processes can seem like a burden to a growing business. They can also, if we are honest, seem tedious. Lack of time is a much-cited reason for not looking at how the company is run. This is perfectly understandable, especially in small companies where chasing the next sale or completing the project are more critical issues.
Ultimately, a lack of business process improvement catches up with firms. As Humphrey Bogart may have said, it is “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow” but eventually a company without processes will experience problems. Accredit UK-certified company Pulsar Insight had traded for 12 years before their lack of business planning caused a major concern. By going through the certification process, they were able, with the help of their assessor, to resolve this.
Martyn Shuttler, Pulsar Insight: “The results of my own assessment will help me enormously in the future. I really believe that if I had had all this in place twelve months ago I would not have got into such a pickle.”
However, having some pieces of paper filed away is not enough for a company. Processes must firstly be used and secondly updated. Something that Accredit UK examines is continuous improvement – companies need to constantly adapt how they work in order to have maximum efficiency.
John F Kennedy realised how vital continuous improvement is: “The United States has to move very fast to even stand still.” What applied to America of the 1960s applies to every business today. It is not enough to concentrate on sales and operations, if what lies beneath the surface is not constantly addressed.
For further information about Accredit UK, how they can help companies with business process improvement and the subsidies available to West Midlands companies, please visit www.accredituk.com, email
or call 02476 496217.