Slideshow Making Better Business Processes

  • March 08 2012, 3:05pm EST

Step 1: Focus on Processes that Matter

Organizations improving insightful decision-making carefully pick the key processes and operational variables on which to focus. Clear alignment exists between a successful organization's market strategy and its processes and operating metrics to implement the strategy.

Step 2: Stay True to Your End Goal

The improvements you target should be expressed as changes in the specific selected variables. For example, if the goal is to reduce inventory by 30 percent, the initiative should fit that objective clearly. This approach of "you get what you measure" is well-documented, but it is surprising how many organizations do the first step without then taking the time to set clear objectives in the second.

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Step 3: Ensure Data Supports Insights

Taking into account the processes, variables and objectives selected in the first two steps, the third step in improving decisions is to determine the readiness of your data and infrastructure to support the kind of insights required. Organizations often get caught in the trap of believing that their data or infrastructure are not up to the task and assuming that progress cannot be made without solving those issues. And yet, decisions must still be made, and it falls on business analysts to cobble together information manually and come to meetings armed with spreadsheets.

Step 4: Parlay Processes and Insights into Decisions

Design and engineer the process and business analytic capabilities required to produce the insights and execute the resulting decisions. This work might seem straightforward, but it is fraught with subtleties and traps typically resulting from experience biases among the team involved in the work. For example, an IT team charged with deploying a company's business intelligence technology of choice would naturally focus on the reports required.

Step 5: Use New Processes to Drive Improvements

The fifth step is to operate the new process and drive the targeted improvements. Here, it is important to make sure resources are provided for properly interacting with the process, data and stakeholders to facilitate the emergence of insights and decisions. Initially, the new process might require more work than the old process, especially until the stakeholders get comfortable with the differences in the new decisions versus what they would have done in the past. This initial increase in work should be planned for, and if your program is successful you should soon see a much sharper net decrease in work versus the old process.

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More on making better business processes ...

For a full article outlining these tips from analytics expert Tal Ball, click here. All images were used with permission from ThinkStock.