Fundamental to the process improvement methodology known as Lean Office, is the business process which can be defined as a set of steps performed to create a product, value or service for an “end user”, i.e., a “customer” and in the simplest sense, is comprised of  three key parts;  inputs, activities and outputs.

  1. An input is what starts a process for example when a customer orders a latte at the local coffee roaster, that request will require multiple inputs such as coffee, milk, the infusion of steam and so forth.
  2. Activities such as reaching for the cup, adding a pre-determined measurement of coffee, compressing the coffee, etc., will transform the inputs to result in an output.
  3. Outputs (outcomes) are the result of the activities in this example a latte.

Processes exist in every company and are not limited to the creation of a physical product.  An advertising company for example, provides services which include inputs that include, expertise, creativity and product knowledge, activities such as research, benchmarking, demographic studies and outputs; a marketing campaign that could include print media, television, radio or social media.

When a physical, tangible product in not outputted by a business, it may be easier to view business processes as activities a company executes toward fulfillment of their mission or purpose which will always involve information, people and technology.

Most every organization executes innumerable business processes, some simple and limited to a single department, others are more in-depth, complex and flow throughout an enterprise.

Because many business processes are invisible the impact they have on an organization's performance can be elusive.  When problems arise leaders often look for someone to blame and invest time and expense replacing the person supposedly at fault, or, they may opt to invest in new technology, again in an attempt to overcome the challenge.  In the far majority of circumstances lasting change and solutions will not result and overtime, the same problems will manifest again.

Dr. Edwards Deming estimated that 94% of organizational difficulties stemmed from flawed processes rather than incompetent individuals or in adequate technology. In lean management, understanding process glitches that lead to a problem allow you, your team and your organization to evaluate and correct processes which is what Lean Office and BPI, Business Process Improvement is all about.  Watch for our upcoming posts on developing and implementing Business Process Improvement for your organization.

 

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Published in Lean Office
Friday, 04 January 2013 12:57

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