Outsourcing Process Improvement: Pros and Cons
Every growing business faces the same problem: scaling systems to keep up with their success. And it's a problem that needs to be overcome. Otherwise, a business can end up tripping over its existing systems and stalling (or ruining the chance for) future wins.
And you don't need to be a unicorn to evaluate and improve your existing business systems. Due to constant changes in the global business environment, every business needs to constantly evaluate operations.
In short, you need to improve your business process management to sharpen their competitive edge and stay relevant.
The most efficient way to do that is through process consulting.
What Is Business Process Improvement?
Business process improvement is the redesigning of existing business operations while removing non-value-adding costs and activities. The end goal is to achieve significant improvement in productivity, quality, and response time of the business process.
In simple words, it's a way of looking at your organization and figuring out how you can do things better. From reducing costs to your organization to over-delivering on customer demands, you'll find the solutions you need to scale your business efficiently with process improvement.
You'll need to improve your most processes at some point. As your business evolves and competition grows, today's effective business processes become ineffective and outdated tomorrow.
If you don’t have a strategy for business process improvement in place, your company may face problems in the long run. You even may lose everything you've worked hard to achieve. That's because business is more competitive these days, and margins are slim. To stand out in your market, you need every edge.
Process improvement gives you that edge.
Process Improvement Consulting: Pros And Cons
The success of your business largely depends on the effectiveness of its processes. If the processes you have in place are ineffective, they lead to a waste of resources. Without those resources, you're stuck trying to swim up a river with lead weights attached to your limbs.
That's no way to succeed.
Process improvements can help you drastically improve efficiency in your company. They reduce menial, boring (and time-consuming) tasks. As a result, your employees will have more time to focus on what really matters: tasks that bring strategic, real value. And it's that freedom to innovate that'll keep you competitive.
But what if you don’t have the time or know-how to analyze your current business process and find existing operational gaps that you need to attack first?
There is a simple solution: hire a business process consultant.
The Benefits of Busines Process Consultants
Many top-performing businesses often turn to business process management consulting firms to get help with their process improvement projects.
And there's a good reason for that.
An experienced consulting firm can take over your process improvements, performing a variety of tasks designed to make your business more efficient. As a result, you can reap all the benefits without spending tons of time assessing your business and employees on your own.
Ways Process Consultants Support Improvement
- Document current workflows and processes accurately
- Create a precise picture of all operations, highlighting all gaps
- Identify opportunities for improvement and prioritize them
- Find tasks that can be automated with advanced software
- Identify redundant processes that should be eliminated
- Develop and implement business process improvement solutions
- Make your business processes more efficient
Still, hiring external process improvement consultants has positives and weaknesses. To help you make an informed decision about whether you need process consulting for your organization, you need to know the pros and cons of each.
Benefits Of Outsourcing Process Improvement
Your organization stands to gain a lot from working with consultants. Here are a few benefits:
- Expertise from multiple projects in various markets: Typically, consultants have practical experience in running process improvement projects across a wide variety of industries. They're experts in advanced tools and best-practice methodologies.
- Avoiding common mistakes: Chances are that your process consultant will have experience in your exact field. They may have seen a similar situation before in their past projects. As a result, they'll be able to develop the best solution for your specific situation.
- Knowledge transfer: To ensure the success of your project, process consultants will teach you and your employees how to use tools and develop a sustainable process improvement system.
Disadvantages of Process Consulting Firms
Outsourcing any work to a third party carries risks. These are a few you'll face:
- Services Cost: You'll need to pay for consulting services. It’s important to select the right consultant so that you don’t waste money.
- Decreased team motivation: You’ll need to explain to your employees why you are hiring an external consultant. Make sure all your relevant team members have the role in the project to feel involved in the decision-making process.
- Trust: You'll need to trust your partner has the experience to deliver solutions. Some consultants copy-paste solutions, rushed work, and assets that under-deliver. You'll want to make sure you work with trusted consultants or you could be worse off
What Are the Key Steps to Process Consulting
In businesses, things go wrong all the time. Often, we blame people for inefficiencies and ineffective work. But, the truth is that the vast majority of problems are caused by poor workflow processes.
The only way to change things for the better is to have a system of process improvement in place. To build that system, you need to identify the right processes first. After that, you'll need to deploy changes that improve these workflows while taking measures to make sure the changes stick.
Sounds challenging, right?
Follow these steps to successfully carry out any business process improvements:
Step 1. Identify the need to change
Conduct a process audit to find current issues or determine potential risks for your business. Review the impact each process has on your company. And prioritize areas for future improvement. Afterward, select the process to improve.
Step 2. Map out the process
Find out how your process is carried out. Map the process to visualize the current steps and see the process as a whole. You should consult the members of the team who use the process regularly to ensure that you don’t miss something important.
Explore each step in detail because some processes may include sub-steps invisible at the first glance. And you'll want to account for those steps to ensure you don't miss any opportunities.
Step 3. Analyze the current process
Analyze what's happening in the workflow and find out what’s causing the problems. Take a closer look at every step and identify problem areas that use up too many resources, take up too much time, or waste too much money.
You'll also need to discover the root of the problem to understand how you can fix it. To do that, you can use such methods as Six Sigma Process Mapping or the Root Cause Analysis.
Step 4. Design the improvement process
This step should be completed with your team. First, you can do some research to learn how your competitors are solving similar problems. Then, brainstorm the ideas with your team members and analyze each of them, by conducting an Impact Analysis.
To spot potential risks, you should carry out Risks Analysis. Think about how long it will take to carry out each idea. And choose the best solution to eliminate the problem.
Step 5. Assign resources
List everything that you will need to get the project done. You might need to talk with colleagues from other departments who will be also impacted by the changes to determine what to include in the list. Explain the new process and its benefits for your organization. Use process maps as a reference.
Step 6. Develop a plan for the process improvement implementation
Make your plan as detailed as possible. You need to list specific tasks for all the resources. And be sure to create a timeline to show when each task will begin and when it will finish.
Step 7. Make the change
Communicate the plan to your team to reduce the chance that they'll resist the new process. Afterward, start making improvements and follow the plan. It’s likely that you may need to organize training for your employees, purchase new software, or hire a new team member.
You should also consider running a test before you deploy the improvements. This will allow you to see what you've missed and to discover potential problems and bottlenecks. Then, you’ll need to suggest new improvements to fix them.
Keep in mind that your staff members can be resistant to the change, especially if they have been using the process for some time. There are some tools you can use to overcome that resistance such as the Change Curve.
Step 8. Monitor and optimize
Don’t expect that everything will go smoothly from the start. Process improvement is a continuous effort. Monitor how things are going to ensure that your employees follow the process and that everything is proceeding just as it was planned.
Be sure to ask your team members how the process is working and fix new problems as they occur. Also, adopt continuous improvement strategies to ensure that your process stays efficient and relevant as your business grows.
Remember: process improvement is only effective if you use appropriate methodologies to execute it.
How to Find the Best Process Consultants
Managing a process improvement project is not easy. By definition, the process has a lot of pitfalls you'll need to avoid. However, it’s the only way to prevent disasters, boost efficiency, and scale your business.
What's the best way to reduce the risk to your business with process improvement?
Hire an experienced process consultant who can help your company avoid possible mistakes. Process consulting should lead to change and improvement. That’s why it's critical to find a firm that offers a full range of process consulting services. This will ensure your business evolves into the best version of itself.
Here's how to choose a business process consulting firm you can rely on:
Step 1. Consider their previous experience
First, you need to verify their competency so you should review their track record. Find out how successful they have been with their previous projects and how satisfied their clients were.
You may be inclined to choose a process consultant with direct experience in your industry at first. But, that isn’t the most important factor. Your team members are experienced in your niche. As a result, they'll be able to convey the basic principles if necessary.
Remember: the primary mission of your consultant is to help your employees learn how to fix the existing processes and constantly improve them.
Step 2. Verify their communication style
Teamwork is very important so you should choose consultants with strong communication skills.
Remember: good communication is the key to the success of your project. Your consultant should be able to convince your team that things need to be changed.
Besides, good consultants are skilled listeners and can ask the right questions.
Step 3. Check how flexible they are
Choose consultants who know how to adapt to your company’s culture. They need to be flexible and be able to recommend the best solution for your specific situation. You can’t use the one-size-fits-all model for improving processes.
Step 4. Think about ROI
You get what you pay for. Choosing a process improvement consultant with the lowest rate is not the best idea. It can be a mistake you’ll pay for long-term. To get the best for your business, you need experts. And they usually cost more.
Improving your process can’t be done in a few hours, either. So it's best not to expect that it'll be a quick, cheap fix. Instead, you should think of it as a worthwhile investment that will bring long-term returns for your business.
Choose the Business Process Consultants
At Quandary Consulting Group, our process consultants can help you improve your workflows and systems by building custom applications and integrating your disparate systems.
Always within budget. Always delivered on time.
Leveraging the power of rapid application development, low code platforms, and our extensive expertise, we help free businesses from clunky processes and manual systems.
All you need to do is share your objectives with us.
See how we've helped our clients improve their businesses and get insane ROIs by checking out our case studies below.