The business manager’s checklist: 4 focal points for effective process optimization

Jesse Meijers

Once you have some ideas for processes that benefit from digitalization, you can shape them up step by step. Here are four focal points to help you optimize your business processes effectively, with practical examples.

1. Make sure that you have an overview of the overall business processes

Ask yourself who should do what at which moment, and talk to stakeholders to map this out correctly.

Suppose you run a manufacturing company. Start by mapping out the entire production process, from raw material procurement to final product delivery. Identify key roles such as procurement managers, production supervisors, and logistics coordinators. Clearly outline their responsibilities and the sequence of tasks.

2. Determine what the happy flow looks like

This is the situation in which everything goes the way it should go. It is important to leave out rarely occurring exceptions. Sometimes, you should be satisfied if you can cover 90% of the instances, as 100% is not always worth it. After all, you want to make digitalization profitable.

For example, in the same manufacturing company, the happy flow might involve receiving raw materials on time, seamless production without machine breakdowns, and on-schedule deliveries. While occasional machine failures or supply chain disruptions may occur, these should not dominate your planning. Instead, design your digital processes to handle the smooth-running majority.

3. Check if you’ve tried to translate analogue processes into digital ones

If so, go back and analyze the underlying analogue process first. More often than not, you need to eliminate inefficiencies or change the order of tasks. Remember that digitalization is all about optimizing processes.

If your company handles invoice processing manually, transitioning to a digital system involves more than just scanning paper invoices. Analyze the entire invoicing process: Are there unnecessary steps? Can approvals be automated? Perhaps the order in which invoices are processed can be optimized for better cash flow management. Use digital tools to simplify and enhance these processes.

4. What should the final result of a process be?  

Define your acceptance criteria in the broadest possible way. Leave out any details and focus on the big picture. Your crisp-and-clear answer should make everyone understand the overarching goal.

For an e-commerce business, the desired outcome for order processing might be to ensure that all orders are processed and shipped within 24 hours of placement. Acceptance criteria could include metrics like order accuracy, shipping times, and customer satisfaction scores. By focusing on these broad goals, you keep your team aligned and motivated.

The next steps

By following this checklist and incorporating practical examples into your strategy, you can ensure a smooth and successful digital transformation. This structured approach will not only streamline operations but also foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation within your organization.

For more tips, explore the Automation Project Playbook — a practical free guide to successful business automation.

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