Do you consider process excellence in all your processes? When we think of Process Excellence we tend to think of manufacturing and supply chain. How about your marketing? sales?  ordering? billing?  collections?  procurement?  expense report processing?  These are all processes and all have opportunities for waste, redo’s, errors or even fraud. Process excellence is about doing work better. Are all your processes as efficient as they can be?

Inefficient processes waste employees’ time and negatively impacts morale.  It causes errors and the need for redo’s, wasting time and talent.  It wastes equipment time, system processing time and supervisors’ time inspecting, checking and correcting. Inefficiencies negatively impact capacity in all processes, increases opportunities for errors and impacts the customers impression of your organization and the bottom line.

Let’s look at some of these processes:

Order and Fulfillment Process

We will start with the order process, is it efficient? How are orders placed? Is the ordering process customer friendly? What percent of the orders started are completed?  A less than customer friendly order process will result in customers giving up and not placing the order or becoming frustrated with the process.  A frustrated customer is less likely to linger and consider purchasing other items. Does the order process accurately capture what the customer intended? Is it error proofed to minimize customer mistakes?

Once the customer places the order, what is the fulfillment process? Do orders need to be retyped into another system wasting time and providing opportunities for errors? How many errors or redo’s occur? How easy is it for your employees?

An efficient order and fulfillment process means minimal manual effort, fewer errors, key strokes, checks and rechecks, redo’s and waste. It translates to more efficient use of employee time and higher employee morale.

Billing

Are your billing processes efficient? How long does it take for customers to pay their invoice? Why are payments delayed? Are customers short paying invoices? How many customer inquiries and what are the inquiries for? What is the accuracy rate and what is causing these inaccuracies?  Are customer’s invoiced in a format that works best for them, would another type of invoice result in faster payment or less human intervention? Do customers understand their invoices?  If they don’t understand or cannot tie to the invoice amount, they will assume they are inaccurate resulting in calls to customer service and delayed payment. Are customers getting the level of detail needed to pay their invoice?  Are payments  processed in the most efficient manner possible; how much manual effort is required? How are they paying; check, ACH, credit cards?  What are credit card fees costing you? Is this impacting your profit margin?

An efficient invoicing process includes touchless processing or at the very least minimal manual intervention.  It includes an invoice amount the customer recognizes and can tie to in a format the customer can pay and does pay quickly.

Expense Reports

Are expense reports processed in the most efficient manner possible? Is your expense report process sufficiently robust? How often are violations occurring? What types of violations occur and why?   Are controls embedded early in the process to prevent inappropriate charges or charges over the predetermined amount?  Are receipts captured, catalogued and stored efficiently? Are you approving expense reports because the expense has been incurred and you have no choice?  How many handoffs does your expense report process include? Does the processes minimize human intervention? Has the process been error proofed?

Manually filling out forms, copying, forwarding for signature is wasteful, allows errors and misses the opportunity to prevent mistakes and overages. Manual process means limited opportunity for data mining, limiting your ability to make fact based decisions.

An efficient expense report process streamlines expense reports. It includes controls that prevent inappropriate charges, gains approvals as needed in the process, stores receipts easily and reimburses employees accurately. It enables data mining so that expense report decisions are based on fact. It minimizes manual work efforts to develop the expense report, process and approve it and finally reimburse the employee.

These are a few of the processes that benefit from process excellence. Next time we will look at a few more.  The point is all processes can benefit from Process Excellence.