Process optimization describes the steps taken to improve a process as well as the results of the improvement work. During process optimization, the actual processes of a company are analyzed based on their process models and performance. These analyses help to identify any optimization potential, which is then incorporated into a target process. Process optimization is part of the process management lifecycle and takes place after process documentation.
Why do processes have to be optimized?
Typically, processes are optimized because they need to run more quickly, cheaply, or accurately. But corporate changes can also create the need to optimize. This might be a change in the company strategy which changes the process strategy, the acquisition of a new IT system, the standardization of processes, or updates to guidelines (legal or internal).
How are processes optimized?
First, analyze the documented actual processes using process models. You can derive potential weak points and bottlenecks, like excessive workloads or cycle times, from these analyses.
Next, prioritize the processes to be optimized, since you can’t optimize them all at the same time. Include the following points as you prioritize: the entrepreneurial relevance of the process (a core process should be optimized before a support process), the costs incurred, the frequency of the process or the number of executions, or the criticality of the process.
If you identify several areas of optimization potential in a process that you can’t solve all at once, prioritize these as well. For comprehensive changes, you may have to initiate a process optimization project. When planning a process optimization project, you should include all points you’d expect when planning a conventional project (such as organization, resources, and goals).
Afterward, the process optimization can be carried out by the responsible persons, using methods like Six Sigma. Their goal should be to find the causes of problems and design revised target processes.
Before implementation, subject the target model to an analysis so that you can ensure the optimization potential will be realized and that guidelines are adhered to. If there are several variants of a target process, prioritize these. For this stage, add “the feasibility of the variants” to the list of prioritization criteria mentioned above.
As soon as a target process has been analyzed and verified, it can be implemented. Through this implementation, the target process becomes the new actual process.
The steps in a process optimization are as follows:
- Analyze the actual processes.
- Derive process vulnerabilities.
- Prioritize the processes to be optimized.
- If necessary, plan and initiate a process optimization project.
- Design target processes.
- Check and analyze the target processes.
- Prioritize the target processes.
- Implement the “best” target process.