Building Business Resilience with project management and process improvement techniques

“Processes underpin business capabilities, and capabilities underpin strategy execution,” says digital leadership specialist Pearl Zhu in her book “Digital Capability: Building Lego Like Capability Into Business Competency.”

The need to do more with less is today’s reality. Process automation, educational programs that hasten a new employee’s ability to learn, and software tools to support everyday common tasks are now “the normal”. However, before an organization begins throwing money at potential solutions to improve its processes and capabilities, business managers and leaders need to ask themselves: How does a company innovate? What can the company innovate? Why would we innovate? Where will the innovation take us (Aka is it aligned to our strategy)? Who will be responsible for leading the innovation process?

While everyone’s responses may be different to each question, all businesses - no matter the size or type - need to consider business process improvement practices.

Such continuous improvement practices could be as simple as trying to figure out how to reduce inefficiencies (i.e., wastes) in existing business processes.

A method that can be applied by a business is to identify the 8 types of wastes as per lean management.

The 8 types of lean management wastes are:

1️⃣Defects - Defects impact time, money, resources and customer satisfaction. These could relate to manufactured goods, or poor service.

2️⃣Excess Processing - Poor process design related to management or administrative issues. This includes lack of communication, duplication of data, overlapping areas of authority, and human error.

3️⃣Overproduction - Producing more than is needed/required.

4️⃣Waiting - Could include people, material equipment, or idle equipment.

5️⃣Inventory - Inventory is considered a form of waste because of the related holding costs, or eventual financial loss due to expired goods.

6️⃣Transportation - Impacts financially due higher fuel and energy costs and higher overhead labor in the form of lift drivers as well as adding wear and tear on equipment.

7️⃣Motion - It may also include excess physical motion such as reaching, lifting and bending. All unnecessary motion results in non-value-added time and increases cost

8️⃣Non-Utilized Talent - This is where the environment fails to ensure that all their potential employee talent is being utilized.

Need help identifying wastes in real-world examples? Play the "Waste Game".

Play the Waste Game

How well can you apply lean management? There are 8 videos in this dropdown, can you match up each unique video to the type of waste? Leave your responses in the comments in the following format: Describe video – Type of waste.

Samsung issues safety recall for Galaxy Note 7

Problem with consumerism

If Only It Were That Simple (Office Humor)

Getting breakfast ready

Bubble Tea Shortage

Order Picker

Caltex Commercial

That 70s Show - Explaining what I do

Answer Key

Now that you have identified the wastes, you are ready to improve your processes. You may already have identified several potential solutions, but you are unsure how to implement these solutions.

Ideally, you would have to consider hiring a full-time or contracted project manager depending on the project. Realistically, you can do a lot on your own or with a small team of your own employees, depending on what processes need solutions, how quickly you need those solutions implemented, the scale of the project, and the overall budget.

  • If you identify that your process needs a software solution, SaaS (Software As A Service) solutions from most companies are fairly intuitive and may be ready to use upon registering. As an example, if you need business continuity software as a solution to your process woes - shameless plug - you can contact us, regardless of how large or small your company is. Link

  • If you identify that your process needs a people-based solution, you can outsource training to providers to help you upskill, re-skill, or onboard-upskill new or existing employees. Identifying what type of skills your organization needs would be a good first step before you shop around for training providers. Once you identify the skills you need, review your budget. Cost savings can be found if you register your organization with digital course providers who provide self-directed courses or trainer-led courses. Some examples of self-led training providers include LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, TedX masterclass, or Genesis Resiliency. While some skills do require a trainer-led course, your budget will guide your search.

  • If you identify that your process needs a premises, brick-and-mortar, or infrastructure-based solution, professional guidance is recommended due to the complexities involved when working with actual structures. Key considerations may include tradespeople such as electricians, IT infrastructure experts from local telecommunications providers, or local government agencies for permits to build or demolish.

To conclude, business process improvement should not just happen during an annual brainstorming session to identify problems and then implement solutions. And then do the same thing next year. Business process improvement should be a continuous activity, be promoted as an employee habit, and have mechanisms that support solution ideas from your employees. Doing so will not only help retain staff but will help to continuously reduce waste and improve your bottom line.

Martin Gierczak - Founder, Genesis Resiliency