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Driving business process excellence: engage the experts

Dave Bhattacharya | May 28, 2014

In my last article, I covered the first step toward successful business process excellence: making process improvement and management a priority. Today we’ll be talking about the second critical step: engaging process improvement experts. These are people in your organization who have the right skillsets and track records to drive process improvements and deliver proven results.

"Available" resource doesn’t equal "right" resource

I’ve noticed that organizations that have not been exposed to structured process improvement programs often don’t recognize the need for experienced process improvement specialists. The leaders in these organizations often tend to pull in the nearest resource with some “available” hours and then saddle that person with work. These resources are almost never selected based on their experience or process improvement skills, since the leaders are not aware of the value the right skills can bring to those initiatives.

That’s why most of these initiatives never make much headway, and when they do, the results are sub-optimal and usually don’t meet the expectations of the business leaders sponsoring the projects. Sadder still, leaders tend to mistakenly blame the failure of these initiatives on every reason but the capability and skillset of the project lead. Very rarely do companies understand that they would be much better served with a structured process improvement approach led by experienced practitioners.

Engage the experts

The reality is that without the involvement of seasoned and trained practitioners, there is little chance of achieving operational excellence on par with today’s leading companies. Clients typically have countless opportunities to improve their operations, but don’t even realize they exist since they don’t have the right resources. And even when they have identified opportunities for improvement, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of relatively inexperienced resources who lack the necessary skills to properly frame and scope out the project and deliver results.

Successful process transformation initiatives require the leadership of a seasoned practitioner. It takes someone with the right mix of analytical, change management, and project management skills to develop the right approach and tactics to deliver results.

Interestingly, some companies do recognize the value of having skilled resources on staff who can drive process improvement initiatives, and in most cases have their top performers go through some onsite or web-based training. The leaders then sign up as sponsors, identify projects, and kick them off—but never achieve the expected outcome. The lesson here: completing a course and getting a certificate does not an expert make.

Get ready for your close-up

Leading large transformational process changes can be pretty challenging—even more so when there is significant leadership spotlight on the project. Inexperienced individuals are quickly exposed when they can’t deliver, causing significant issues for all involved. The level of expertise required of process improvement individuals to propel a company to the next level of process excellence cannot be achieved overnight. For a successful BPM program, the leaders need to make sure that the process improvement projects are staffed with resources who have significant experience delivering on past process improvement projects, and have a combination of process improvement, change management, and project management skills.

In my next article in this series, I’ll talk about the next step to drive business process excellence: structure process improvement initiatives to deliver quick results.

Dave Bhattacharya

Dave Bhattacharya is a Lean Six Sigma MBB and a seasoned process improvement expert. Dave has experience working in multiple countries around the globe (including India, US, and Iraq) and has led the deployment of successful process improvement programs in multiple global organizations.


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