Business process optimization: do no harm!

Talking about optimization, it is important to know its principles:

  • Optimization should have the basis. This means that before any actions business processes should be defined. First you should see how business processes work and make descriptions of them.
  • From particulars to generals. This means that the optimality should be assessed starting from particular problems. These problems should be classified and eliminated.
  • Optimization decisions are ambivalent. This means that improving one process by one criterion you can harm it by the other. And it is not enough just to know that but be able to define such consequences, to assess advantages and disadvantages and to make appropriate decision.
  • Employees don’t like optimized processes. One of unavoidable consequences of business process optimization is increased exploitation of performers. That is why employees can resist such improvements.

It follows from these principles that:

  • Before the beginning of business process optimization it is necessary to describe processes as they are. Descriptions should be distinct and clear and should include the levels on which employee performance is seen.
  • When processes are being assessed it is necessary to analyze each part of a process which is implemented by a particular performer (such parts can be called procedures). While assessing it is important to define what consequences an appropriate implementation has, what data and materials a performer gets as a result, what he does with them and how optimal his activities are.
  • Then, business process management can be assessed. This process helps to detect weak points of business processes.
  • After that you should formulate and plan actions directed to elimination of current problems and optimization of business processes.
  • And, after all, you should assess approximate difficulties caused by optimization, including personnel resistance.

There are plenty of methods of business process optimization. But the most low-budget and easy-to-implement are the following:

  • improvement / development of forms of documents;
  • recording of the the bases for management decisions;
  • changing of the number and consistency of the process procedures;
  • defining of responsibility areas for the procedures implementation;
  • changing of requirements to the final result.

Alternative techniques

Of course, there are other approaches to improving of business processes which are focused on reducing of costs. There are two basic directions aimed at it – lowering of the level of procedures implementation and enlarging of performance efficiency.


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