Manufacturing and distribution organizations initiate business process improvement (BPI) projects to streamline business processes, identify areas where efficiency can be improved, and enable better, more effective utilization of resources and assets. But, experts say, the majority of BPI projects do not achieve their goals.
Why do so many much-needed BPI efforts fail? Here are the Top Five BPI Pitfalls:
1. Poor Alignment with Business Goals
Every BPI project needs to be linked to business goals. If the right metrics aren’t being identified for the project, or the project scoping doesn’t include a variety of areas in the company, it’s unlikely to meet the overall objectives of the business. If the business doesn’t have clear goals, or the goals conflict at different levels in the business, the project likely won’t have any clear direction.
To avoid this, make sure that the business process improvement project is focused on meeting business goals. If the goals are unclear, it’s important to define what the business wants to achieve before launching a project.
2. Weak Support from Upper Management
Without a champion at the top, a BPI project is doomed. Getting upper management on board is absolutely critical for success because, without their commitment, the plug can be pulled prematurely.
Obtaining support from upper management can be done in several ways. An orientation session can help bring them up to speed with the why and the how, and including them in regular briefings and updates will let them see progress. Also, it helps to make the case for how this project will improve the bottom line, which will make them less likely to question the business value of the project.
3. Insufficient Focus on Overall Business Objectives
The saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees” often applies to BPI projects. If the organization typically operates in siloes, so will the project, with different functions and teams lobbying for what they need without understanding the overall goal.
One way to avoid this is to prioritize pieces of the project linked to the overall business goals – to shift the focus to moving the entire organization forward. Every BPI project needs to benefit the organization as a whole, without detracting from another function.
4. Flawed Project Team Composition
The BPI project team must represent the entire organization. Ideally, the team will consist of six to 10 representatives from different departments affected by the changes, super-users and management. Some team members will be driving change, and some will be in supporting roles. It’s critical to choose people from multiple levels who know and understand the processes and support the initiative.
5. Failure to Assess Current State
Before any real change can be made, and before goals can be set, it is critical to know and understand the current state of the business. This involves gathering key performance metrics, then mapping business processes to identify where improvements will make a significant difference.