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6 Myths About Process Improvement

Kevin Shuler
Kevin Shuler

Don't let workflow inefficiencies derail your company.

Despite the clear benefits of process improvement, many leaders fail to take the leap toward workflow automation based on an incomplete understanding of system and process automation. To stay competitive, you need to know what these myths are and why they're wrong. Armed with that knowledge, you can take the necessary steps to optimize your business and remain competitive. Here are six costly myths about process improvement.

Myth 1: Process improvement is a one-and-done event.

There will always be a need for continuous process improvement. The marketplace is more competitive than ever. The list of new apps with new features continues to grow. As other businesses deploy these features, your customers will come to expect them. 

This means there will always be a need for new technology, efficient processes and better services in your organization. To stay competitive, you'll need to stay on top of your options.

Process improvement should be a core tenet of your organization. After all, what business doesn't want to cut costs while increasing efficiencies

Still, it's not as simple as onboarding every new piece of business software. While it's important to be efficient, not every solution out there will benefit your business. Nor do you want to ignore features that would increase your revenue and keep your customers happy. Instead, you'll need to monitor new offerings and see if they fit your business model. 

When considering new ways to make your business more efficient, you must keep your customers in mind. Every process improvement you make should improve their overall experience with your company.

Myth 2: Process mapping and process improvement are the same.

Process mapping, when done right, is an essential part of process improvement, but they're not the same. Process mapping means making a detailed map of all the processes in your organization in an attempt to locate bottlenecks, inefficiencies and broken systems. 

Process improvement, on the other hand, involves making these processes better in a strategic way. Typically, this means using software to build automation and integrations that streamline workflows. The end result is a seamless system of automation that reduces menial work by moving data through disparate systems automatically.

The goal of process improvement is to provide end-to-end results. This includes testing and modifying workflows after improvements are in place. Your workplace culture also needs a top-down approach to embracing new processes. This will help your employees accept changes and use them, leading to a rapid ROI.

In short, you begin with process mapping to discover your workflows and visualize potential solutions or improvements. Afterward, you carry out process improvement to bring those visualizations to life. 

Myth 3: Process improvement is only for enterprise companies.

Building custom applications is costly and time-consuming. Most growing businesses don't have the budget for that. Besides, their time and focus are elsewhere. The idea of reducing the resources they have to expand their business and grow their bottom line is ridiculous, especially when you consider that the average cost for a custom application is $50,000 to $250,000

Despite that, process improvement is still an approachable (and essential) strategy for growing businesses. Luckily, there are affordable platforms for application development. Low-code and no-code platforms, for example, allow users to create custom applications in days or weeks rather than months. There is less code, fewer people, and less testing needed. 

As a result, businesses can quickly build the automations and integrations they need to connect systems and improve their processes without going broke in the process. The truth is that manual processes may cost your business more in the long run than building out the systems you need to improve your business.  

Myth 4: You need to improve all your processes at once.

Sure, there's always a better way to do something. Any process can be tweaked and improved. But that doesn't mean that you need to do it. Just because you improve a process doesn't mean you'll see ROI for it. To get the most value out of the systems you improve, you need a strategy.

Without a process improvement strategy, you'll waste a lot of time running in circles and stumbling into dead ends. You could end up automating inefficient processes, repairing systems that will be replaced, or focusing your efforts on the wrong tasks. All of this will waste your budget and leave you more frustrated (and possibly less efficient) than you were before you started "improving" processes.

A clear road map for improving your systems and workflows is key. This ensures you tackle major inefficiencies in an organized way, reducing waste and maximizing your ROI. 

Myth 5: Process improvement means job cuts.

The moment you mention automation and task reduction, employees start to worry about their job security. This is a common misconception about automation. 

Automation reduces menial tasks. But robots can't take on the awesome, high-level tasks people do. They can't interface with customers or innovate, for instance. And they can't think strategically about how to grow a business or remain competitive. 

Instead, automation simply lets robots manage the task robots manage best. Data entry, data transfer and retrieval, authorization, and many other mundane, repetitive tasks are better performed by software than people. 

If anything, automation makes employees' lives easier. For example, it removes the stress associated with manual data entry errors. It also cuts down on the need to run manual reports and compare them between varying systems. 

With process improvement, the structure of how a business works will change, but the employees and the customers will benefit. Work becomes more meaningful, and people have more time to focus on what matters. 

Myth 6: There's no time for process improvement.

Overhauling your business for efficiency when you're already bombarded with tasks can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. There are plenty of value-added resellers, consultants and providers with the expertise to help your business scale. Rather than divert your attention to learning a new set of systems, you can easily reach out for help. 

As soon as you begin improving processes in your organization, you'll see a compounded effect. The time and resources your organization saves will provide more flexibility to improve your other systems. The key to success is to focus on the systems that will give you those quick wins so you have more resources to improve other processes. 

Image Credit: shironosov / Getty Images
Kevin Shuler
Kevin Shuler Member
Kevin Shuler is the CEO of Quandary Consulting Group. He helps businesses scale their systems so they can reduce costs and increase efficiency.