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Business process excellence can be habit forming

Business Process Management
Maxy Eppel, Business Improvement Consultant, Way We Do
Maxy Eppel, Business Improvement Consultant, Way We Do

Hello! I’m Maxy and I’m new to the Way We Do team. My background is in Business Process Re-engineering, and process excellence and improvement. I’ve worked most of my life as a business consultant and have a love for streamlining business process, getting rid of waste and measuring outcomes.

Operational excellence vs. process excellence

According to the BPMInstitute, organizational excellence is about applying a mix of principles, systems and tools to a business to help it stay on target. In my experience, operational excellence can never take hold without a business’s leadership team taking responsibility for embedding the concept’s fundamental principles in their company’s day-to-day operations.

However, I should point out there is a difference between operational excellence and process excellence.

The Business Excellence Institute cites process excellence as being “about process effectiveness and efficiency … with minimum variation and waste. It is the domain of Six Sigma and Lean.” While I tend to agree, looking at it from a Six Sigma perspective means operational excellence takes on a broader definition. Operational excellence builds on the concept of end-to-end process flows, including an organisation’s culture in its domain. It requires an organisation to ensure its staff understand how it works as a value creation system, and that it has structures in place to enable employees to fix problems when necessary.

The two concepts go hand in hand: You need operational excellence and its thinking to come from the top before you can embed process excellence as part of the day-to-day, where the business takes ownership of its own continuous improvement process. It’s an exciting topic for me, as once upon a time management simply dictated its terms and staff had to follow. But in today’s environment, we can give businesses the tools they need to proactively find better ways of working.

Process excellence is often placed in the Six Sigma domain, and process designs need to incorporate measurability, as well as minimising variation and waste. Creating processes like this may take longer to set up initially, but they also create a stable environment for ongoing change. Some pundits believe process excellence isn’t about methodology, but about improving the way business delivers value. This is a start, but it can’t be done without an established methodology that allows for consistency and repeatability, and this is where companies often fall over.

The fields of process and operational excellence are ever evolving topics and interconnected. You cannot have one without the other, and certainly not without a solid implementation methodology and best practice approach for communicating its key principles to your team.

I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the quote attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” It’s certainly a habit we foster at Way We Do.

Have questions?