We’ve all heard the adage, “Change is the only constant.” Smart leaders know that by accepting change as a dependable part of life, you can set yourself and your organization up for success with a culture of continuous improvement.
Business process improvement, a technique for making processes better, is the cornerstone of a strong continuous improvement culture. It makes your organization more adaptable and agile, and it enables you to deliver better customer experiences and more innovative products.
Process improvement can involve anything from streamlining individual steps in a process to completely overhauling the entire thing. There are many different methodologies and approaches to process improvement, but the ultimate goal is always the same: to make the process more efficient, effective, and able to successfully achieve its intended outcome.
If you’ve done process improvement work in the past, you know identifying the right processes and learning from your peers’ experiences can both be crucial. Let’s explore some examples.
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At a broad level, any process in any industry can benefit from process improvement. Most of the common process improvement methods today originally came from manufacturing but have since been widely applied in other industries, like healthcare, financial services, insurance, and software development.
How do you evaluate whether your process is a good use case for a process improvement project? For starters, processes with high data availability and that contain a mix of both human and machine work are usually good candidates.
Some common process improvement goals include reducing waste, cost, and manual work. On the flip side, many projects focus on increasing process speed, customer satisfaction, or product quality. And with the advent of modern process automation solutions, process improvement outcomes along these lines can provide organizations with even greater efficiency gains.
To get inspired to take on your own project, or improve it, let’s take a look at four process improvement use case examples that offer important lessons.
Any type of customer onboarding process can be a strong candidate for process improvement. Let’s say you’re a financial institution looking to improve the process of new account creation. This process is regulated, prone to variation, and often includes some manual touchpoints for validating customer documentation. Maybe you know that all of this variation and manual work is contributing to a longer-than-desired duration for the time it takes to create a new account. So, you decide to start a process improvement project that will enable you to visualize the as-is process, identify the root cause of issues, and implement improvements.
You might find that the manual portions of this process are the result of data entry for customer documentation, something that can easily be automated with a solution like intelligent document processing (IDP). Or maybe your process is delayed by customers forgetting to submit certain information, which provides an opportunity to introduce automated reminder emails. These are just a few examples of the types of inefficiencies you might find.
With process automation, this bank transformed the branch banking customer experience with faster internal processes and customer transaction times.
For organizations in industries like financial services that operate within a regulated environment, regulatory requirements play a big role in how processes need to run. For example, banks and financial services firms grapple with frequently changing regulations related to the Know Your Customer (KYC) process, designed in part to prevent money laundering and fraud. Showing that your systems are actually compliant takes a great deal of time and effort. This makes risk management processes great candidates for process improvement.
Maybe you need a solution that makes collecting information for audits less tedious and time-consuming. Or, maybe you need a way to quickly identify parts of your process that won’t conform to new regulatory requirements. Both of these process problems can be solved with automation.
With automation and one-click reporting, this equity derivatives clearing organization embedded control and compliance validation into the core of their processes.
Insurers are under increasing pressure to reduce costs and, at the same time, deliver a superior customer experience. To gain a competitive edge, insurers are looking for ways to deploy new digital capabilities and avoid expensive, lengthy one-off initiatives. Automated underwriting is one digital capability that has become a must-have, helping insurers make faster, more precise underwriting decisions for efficiency and profitability gains.
In another example, perhaps a lengthy claims process is leading to a drop in customer satisfaction scores. You can use process mining tools to analyze event log data, like a homeowner’s or auto claim journey, and easily see potential problem areas. You might find that data entry is causing a big delay in your process, something you can easily automate with tools like intelligent document processing (IDP), which quickly capture and verify claims intake data.
Imagine you’re a public sector institution with a slow and labor-intensive procurement process. For example, in federal agencies, the highly regulated acquisition planning process spans several different systems and departments and touches employees, contractors, and administrators. To get started, you’ll need to map and analyze your current procurement process so you can understand more clearly where new technology can be applied to help alleviate the biggest bottlenecks and pain points.
You might find that legacy systems are creating a lot of duplicate work for employees, who have to enter data in multiple systems. Or, you might find that some of the steps in your process rely on manual, pen-and-paper processes or spreadsheet cut-and-paste processes that could be automated. These are just a couple of examples of how automation can support your process improvement plans.
One-and-done process improvements rarely have the desired effect without continual optimizations over time. To set up your processes for continuous improvement, keep in mind these best practices:
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