Embracing process improvement and problem-solving

Process improvement and problem-solving are two interconnected aspects that drive your organisation’s success forward and will help Assistants add a huge amount of value in their role.

In this article, we will delve into process improvement principles, practical tips for creative problem-solving, process mapping, and documenting processes. We will also discuss utilising digital tools for process mapping and checklists.

Why process improvement is essential

Whether it’s understanding why a specific mistake is recurring or finding a new software app to replace an unfit one, so many scenarios for Assistants call for a distinctive problem-solving approach. Utilising well-established process improvement techniques can provide structure to these approaches. A simple and highly effective technique used in various projects is the continuous improvement cycle, an adaptable technique useful for constant process review.

The continuous improvement cycle comprises four stages:

  • Identify
  • Plan
  • Execute
  • Review

Using these stages, let’s explore how to improve a digital process, such as finding a new email marketing tool for your organisation.

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1. Identify

Identification is a critical stage, involving investigations to understand the problem and information gathering for requirement collection. It’s crucial to get top-level requirements from management, such as budget, timescales, constraints, and the overall goal. Once you assemble your project team, break down the process into steps and engage in brainstorming sessions to understand better the process and its issues.

An effective tool for information gathering is The 5W1H Method, asking who is involved, what is involved, why the step is important, when it needs to occur, where it occurs, and how the task is accomplished.

2. Plan

In the planning stage, research an appropriate solution, test its suitability, and prepare for implementation. For instance, if you need to find a new app, shortlist potential options and try them out. Consider factors like budget for subscription fees, level of support provided, and integration opportunities with other apps.

Several resources, such as the GetApp Directory or App Sumo, offer app comparisons and reviews that can help with this process. Once you’ve shortlisted a few options, create a comparison chart and present your findings to the stakeholders for approval.

3. Execute

Execution involves implementing the new process and training users. Develop and approve process documentation before training any users and rolling out the new process. Companies can use digital tools such as Notion, Process Street, and BeSlick for documenting processes and creating digital training manuals and SOPs.

4. Review

During the review stage, test, tweak, and measure the success of the newly implemented processes. Continually review and adapt your processes to stay ahead of the competition. Remember, businesses evolve, and so should their processes.

Utilising Digital Tools

Tools like Miro are excellent for process mapping. They allow for visualizing the entire process, indicating automation and manual steps. You can use different templates, shapes, and sticky notes for better clarity and organisation.

For creating digital checklists, you can use Process Street. The tool allows you to create interactive checklists for efficient workflow management.

In conclusion, businesses should foster a culture that embraces process improvement and problem-solving. By incorporating these principles into their organisational strategy, they can encourage continuous growth, promote innovation, and achieve long-term success.