Process Optimization Methods: Definition, Benefits and Types
Updated June 24, 2022
When businesses encounter problems within a process, they can implement an optimization method to ease these issues. There are many methodologies to consider, each providing a unique set of steps and measures to help you increase productivity, conserve crucial resources and optimize your workflow. Learning process optimization methods can prepare you for implementing them within your own business operations. In this article, we discuss what process optimization is, review the benefits of using it, explore eight process optimization methods and examine a few tips to help you complete them successfully.
What is process optimization?
Process optimization is the implementation of structured methods, strategies, disciplines and tactics to improve a specific process within the parameters of a project or initiative. There are many ways in which you can adjust a process so that it objectively functions better than it did. Taking out a step, removing a step or rewriting a step in the process are all simplistic examples that can help streamline a workflow. Generally, you can define process optimization as a composite of steps, including:
Identify: This refers to the action of identifying the process that needs to undergo optimization. If a process is too costly or causes customer dissatisfaction, then determining the cause of those concerns is crucial for any optimization method to work successfully.
Reconsider: This refers to rethinking the identified process and examining its purpose critically within the overall workflow. Questioning how long the process takes to complete or if there's a better way to perform it are just a few options for reconsidering the designated process.
Implement: This refers to the application of a process in a new and more effective manner. Once the implementation of a new or modified process is complete, you can then analyze the results and make adjustments as needed to ensure it's working as intended.
Automate: This refers to automating the process throughout the entire workflow to evaluate it for the conclusions you were looking for, like cost reductions, production increases or mistake preventions. It's important to make sure that the process actually works before automating it.
Monitor: This refers to monitoring the process after successfully integrating it. This ensures that you can identify new areas for improvement or determine where there are critical issues that need to be addressed for the project or workflow to continue automating properly.
What are the benefits of process optimization methods?
Using process optimization methods has many benefits, such as:
Reducing risks: Implementing a method successfully can reduce the risks of leaving an inefficient process unchanged. This enables you to better identify new potential risks and eliminate them before they become too detrimental to your project or workflow.
Creating more consistency: Improving the consistency of a process ensures that you're able to remove redundancies that don't serve any valuable purpose. This can make it easier for you to move between processes without having to repeat any steps or actions unnecessarily.
Improving quality: An optimization method is really useful when you want to improve the quality of your process, project or workflow. When you're able to produce high-quality results, you benefit from not having to invest in any additional fixes or patchwork corrective measures.
Streamlining operations: Streamlining your operations is one of the primary benefits of using an optimization method, ensuring that you're able to transition throughout an entire operation with little disruptions. This can make it easier for all involved parties to perform in a unified and collective manner.
Improving resource management: When there are valuable resources to use in a process, an optimization method can help you preserve them. You can reduce the number of resources going to waste and reallocate them to better purposes and uses.
Saving money: By optimizing a critical process in your workflow, you're more likely to save money and remain within your designated budget. If implemented successfully, the result of an optimization method can increase your revenue and financial gains.
Increasing productivity: Using a method to remove an inefficient process or alter how it works can increase the overall productivity of your workflow. This might help you increase the execution of your deliverables and meet critical benchmarks and deadlines in a more timely manner.
Minimizing future mistakes: After you better optimize one process in a workflow, mistakes are likely to become less frequent. When there are fewer mistakes being made, you can then focus your efforts on other processes and more important business matters.
Reducing problems: Reducing problems helps you to address critical workflow congestion and resolve it so that a process can continue smoothly. With fewer issues, you can complete your work quickly and have time to address other processes and work that's in the backlog.
8 process optimization methods
Here are eight process optimization methods you can use:
1. PDSA method
The PDSA optimization method is a four-part cyclical system that helps you improve the quality of a process and achieve business optimization. The stages of this method are:
Plan: The first step of this method is to map out and clearly define the accomplishments you want to achieve.
Do: The second step is to test the potential changes on a small and limited scale.
Study: The third step is to study the results of the method and determine if they were useful.
Act: The last step is to implement the changes on a larger scale.
2. Process mining method
The process mining optimization method is a composite of techniques that incorporate elements of data science. In this method, you take data from an event log and then analyze the actions of your team members within the business, reviewing the steps they perform to complete a duty or task. You can then convert the collected data into usable insights, helping other affiliated professionals identify issues and optimize the necessary processes.
3. DMAIC method
The DMAIC method for optimization is a data-driven strategy. This methodology works as a cycle of steps, including:
Define: The first step to is define the processes that require optimization.
Measure: The second step is to measure and identify how the process performs.
Analyze: The third step is to analyze how you can optimize the process.
Improve: The fourth step is to improve the process.
Control: The fifth step is to control the future performance of the new or upgraded performance.
4. BPO project management method
The BPO project management optimization method is a composite of steps, including:
Initiating: The first step is to authorize the phase, process or project as part of the overall initiative.
Planning: The second step is to define and redefine the objectives and then select the best actions to help you achieve them.
Executing: The third step is to coordinate and collaborate with the people who are going to help you execute the plan or strategy.
Controlling: The fourth step is about ensuring that you meet every designated objective by monitoring and measuring the progress and results regularly, taking corrective action as necessary.
Closing: The final step is to formally close the project once the optimization method achieves its purpose.
5. Value stream mapping method
The value stream mapping optimization method is a process that relies on a value stream map. This is a graphic representation of the various materials, data and information that flows throughout a project or initiative. The primary objective of this is to bring the services and products to the customers or end-users. This method is really useful for helping you achieve the following results:
Identifying and eliminating resource waste
Gaining valuable insight into decision-making processes and process flows
Setting measurable and realistic goals for process improvement
Determining the areas that need improvement
6. Kaizen method
The Kaizen optimization method can work in conjunction with the PDCA method. This is a technique that works to improve all business functions regularly. Some benefits of this method include:
Promoting faster deliverables and safety measures
Improving job satisfaction and the productivity of a team
Improving every business process
Enhancing product quality and customer approval ratings
7. DMADV method
The DMADV optimization method focuses on helping you increase your quality levels even after an initial optimization initiative. This method brings out dramatic change by completely replacing an old process with one that's new and improved. Some benefits of this method may include:
Increasing your revenue and profits
Improving the ratings and satisfaction of customers and clients
Reducing the number of errors that occur
Developing complete new products and processes
8. SIPOC analysis method
The SIPOC analysis optimization method is useful for organizing the collected data on customers and products involved in the processes. This method can be useful for several reasons, including:
Identifying any relevant aspects that need improvement
Defining complex projects and giving them purpose
Understanding how a process should work
Tips for completing process optimization
Here are some tips to help you complete process optimization initiatives successfully:
Clearly define your business goals, as these are what you typically refer to when directing your process optimization efforts.
Plan your optimization strategy thoroughly and work toward improving definitive outcomes.
Try to predict the outcomes and results of your chosen optimization method before you begin.
Conduct a controlled study for the new process design before implementing it on a wider scale and then analyze the results.
Implement the enhanced process, including any required changes as needed.
Keep tracking and monitoring the results of your optimization.
Try to automate aspects of the process without reducing the quality of it.
Document your efforts for record-keeping and review purposes.
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