Process optimization is “the discipline of adjusting a process so as to optimize some specified set of parameters without violating some constraint” and should always links back to the heart of the business strategy. The optimization efforts should strengthen the reason of existence of a company, and lead to cost minimization, output maximization, or both.
There are 5 common pitfalls to avoid when engaging in process optimization:
1. Unclear start and finish of the process optimization project
2. Using the wrong key performance indicators
3. Lack of ownership and support throughout the organization
4. Not embedding process changes
5. Lack of execution
To avoid these and have successful process optimization projects, there are 5 pre‐requisites to consider, which can be called “the 5 C’s:”
Start with the customer and understand their way‐of‐working and processes. Work outside‐in with process improvements, and be sure to keep the corporate goals in mind.
Define the right KPIs which are needed to measure, analyze and simulate any optimizations. These process KPIs should link back to KPIs defined at the strategic /corporate level. Also, run simulations of your processes, to discover potential bottlenecks upfront.
Involve process owners, process participants and your C‐level sponsor in all phases of the optimization project. Build feedback explicitly into your processes, e.g. using feedback forms and questionnaires.
Transparency in communication helps to keep the optimization project afloat and avoids inefficiencies and inconsistencies. Management dashboards with all relevant KPIs as well as (internal) notification and discussion systems to foster collaboration among the people involved in the process optimization project are real assets.
Process optimization is an on‐going activity, as new process bottlenecks will emerge once the previous has been solved. It is therefore recommended to use so‐called “hot deployments” of new processes to avoid system downtime, in order to improve processes on a continuous basis.