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How to Implement Process Improvement in 6 Steps in 2024?

Written by
Hazal Şimşek
Hazal Şimşek
Hazal Şimşek
Hazal is an industry analyst at AIMultiple, focusing on process mining and IT automation.

She has experience as a quantitative market researcher and data analyst in the fintech industry.

Hazal received her master's degree from the University of Carlos III of Madrid and her bachelor's degree from Bilkent University.
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How to Implement Process Improvement in 6 Steps in 2024?How to Implement Process Improvement in 6 Steps in 2024?

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Process improvement case studies reveal that these projects improve process efficiency, enhance customer experience, and facilitate communication among different units to ensure harmony across the entire organization. Yet, it is still challenging for business leaders and process experts to implement the right solution and generate an improvement plan because there are various approaches and tools to process improvement.

Below, you can find six steps to implement process improvement in your business by pairing the process improvement technologies and methodologies.

Step 1: Identify your goal

You must identify the area of your business that you want to improve and define quantifiable metrics to measure the changes you will implement. For example, if you want to improve delivery times in your supply chain, you should set a targeted delivery process time that is based on your historical data. Then, you can assess whether the established time frame you decided has been achieved, look over the factors that have affected the delivery time, and measure the overall impact on your business.

Quick tip for identifying the goal

While setting a goal, it is not easy to pinpoint a process that might need improvement. Yet, you can overcome this challenge by mapping and detecting bottlenecks in a data-driven manner.

  • Mapping the processes: You can visualize your process flows to understand where you need improvement. You can also map your idealized processes as a reference model to compare them against other operations.
  • Identifying the bottlenecks: It would help to improve your processes if you had clear signs of bottlenecks, deviations, and errors. You can find these bottlenecks in any task or operation where employees and/or the customers struggle the most. For example, you might need to dig into the repetitive tasks or those with higher costs.
    • Process modeling and mining can be helpful for detecting pain points in your workflows. You can also benefit from Six Sigma to detect deviations and reduce them.

Given that process modeling and process mining are useful to map processes and identify the bottlenecks, we would recommend to utilize one of these tools instead of mapping or Six Sigma for larger process improvement initiatives.

Step 2: Take a customer oriented approach 

While deciding on improving processes, always start with processes that involve customer relations. It would help if you started with defining and addressing your customers’ needs and complaints, first. While thinking about the solutions, measure the impact of the change you want to implement over the customer experience.

Quick tip for including customers

There are three ways to include customers in the process improvement project:

  • Performing customer interviews
  • Obtaining customer feedback data, if available
  • Extracting and analyzing the customer data (e.g. purchases and churn rate).

Lean process improvement methodology allows analysts to create a workflow based on customer perspective by identifying and mapping the value stream.

For a more data-driven approach, process mining, data science or machine learning tools can serve better. For data analytics tools, RPA can ease the data collection capabilities and improve tool performance. If you want to analyze customer data with data analysts in your team, you can still leverage RPA bots to streamline the process.

Process mining can be integrated into your CRM software to gather every detail where customers interact with your company in any process, and can ultimately examine it for you. Moreover, it can also gather and analyze customer interviews and feedback. Discover other use cases on how process mining improves customer journey.

Step 3: Identify automation areas 

As part of your process improvement project, consider if automation can achieve the desired improvement. Manual tasks and procedures slow down the processes because they take a longer time to complete, or they can generate errors. You can automate all your processes to improve quality and reduce costs by incorporating technology. CRM, project management software or chatbots are examples of how businesses have transformed their workflows to eliminate human errors and complete work faster. Once you define and address your automation necessities, you can see the tasks and workflows that require further improvement.

Quick tip for automation

Step 4: Design the improvement plan

Once decided on the end-goal with respect to costly, prolonged, or difficult processes which require automation, and where customers complain the most about, you can start planning your process improvement project.

Such plans include defining metrics to evaluate risks and measuring the impact of changes on your business and customer experience. In addition to these metrics, you can revise your existing process maps or visuals with latest changes to help with improvement.

Quick Tip for the improvement plan

  • Consider the scope of the change: If you aim to make large changes that will affect more than one team, you must consider creating a process improvement project team. The team should include employees from each department that will be affected by the transformation plan. The scope is also useful to assess the budget for any additional costs of training or resource requirement.
    • You can generate a DTO to simulate your plan by calculating the potential risk, impact and additional cost. However, if your team notices that your improvement plan requires only a few small changes, you can solely rely on the Kaizen methodology.
  • Ensure the process standarization: The improvement plan must comply with harmony of processes. The changes should ensure that it standardizes the process while improving quality.
    • Process mining and task mining are the common technologies for process standarization as they allow capturing user interaction and process data to compare against standard procedures, internal rules or ideal models through conformance check.

Step 5: Test the changes

After the implementation of the improvement plan for a small unit or sample of cases, the analysts must test the results in real-life. The planning team can take role to test the changes and share the results. Under the light of these results, you can decide if you can implement the planned changes across the entire organization or workflow.

Quick tip for testing the changes

  • Choose a large sample to test: You should choose a sample of cases that will be large and diverse enough to determine the average values of your results. You must run your testing across your large sample multiple times, ensuring the consistency of results.
    • Process mining facilitates the testing phase since you can observe the modification through process maps and assess the impact with performance analysis. You can compare the test results against your ideal model you generate in step 4 with a conformance check.
  • Collect feedback: During testing, ask employees and if applicable customers for their feedback to see if the changes require modifications. Feedback in the testing phase helps adjust new process quickly before you implement the changes across the entire organization or process flow.
    • Agile software can be useful to gather feedback as the methodology enables employees in different teams to cooperate.

Step 6: Monitor and optimize

After the testing, your team should keep monitoring the rollout to detect anything they might have missed during the test phase or require further enhancement. For this stage, your team must compare the results of the changes against the goals and metrics you set in your planning (ie. step 1 and 4). Then, you must compare the results of new and old processes to assess the level of improvement.

It is expected that there will be small points you missed or new opportunities for improvement in the workflow. Your team should go through the same cycle of process improvement planning to optimize their program. It is recommended to repeat this exercise of going through the same improvement plan for a couple of times to optimize the process. Yet, you should expect to find fewer areas to change every time.

Quick tip for monitoring and optimizing

  • Collect more feedback: One way to help you improve at this stage is to extend your collection of feedback. Your team must ask for feedback from more employees across the organization and employ data analytics to see the effect of the change over the broader team.
    • Agile software can be more useful to set meetings and gather feedback from different departments. Thus, you can leverage survey tools to automate feedback collection without the necessity of meetings. Then, your team can leverage all feedback data to be analyzed via process mining or other analytics tools. Process mining is useful to compare and assess the results of feedback against existing processes.
  • Consider new areas for improvement: While revising the improvement plan for optimization, keep an eye on different processes that might need to be improved as well. Typically, going through your operations with critical lenses can help you identify more than one areas to improve.
    • Process mining enables analysts to discover opportunities for further optimization by visualizing the operations flow.

Moreover, process mining allows you to monitor your process during and after implementing the changes. It can also take the entire improvement project as a flow to monitor and optimize. By doing so, process mining improves the project itself and streamlines the team’s monitoring and optimization efforts.

Further Reading

You can learn more on process improvement and the technologies that shape process improvement with our articles:

You can check out our data-driven lists for RPA, business process automation (BPA) or process mining vendors. There are also other relevant technologies that might help you to improve your processes starting from workflows and tasks:

Check out comprehensive and constantly updated list of process mining case studies to find out process mining real-life examples for process improvement.

And, if you still need help choosing the right solution and vendor while implementing process improvement, let us help you:

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Hazal Şimşek
Hazal is an industry analyst at AIMultiple, focusing on process mining and IT automation. She has experience as a quantitative market researcher and data analyst in the fintech industry. Hazal received her master's degree from the University of Carlos III of Madrid and her bachelor's degree from Bilkent University.

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