By Bronach Branan, CPA, ACMA, CLSSGB

Process optimization is a journey rather than a destination. But this journey can vary when it comes to the quality of the experience and what level of progress is made toward important objectives.

To ensure the journey is a positive experience for all involved and produces the best possible outcomes, planning is essential. Asking the right questions will boost the effectiveness of the plan and the results

Beginning with the right questions means the project is more likely to:

  • Focus on processes with the highest potential for visible improvement
  • Make the most significant impact for clients
  • Create the greatest financial impact for the organization

In this article, the Operational Excellence team from PBMares shares 5 questions that organizations can use to focus the journey of optimizing critical processes to drive growth, minimize costs, and enhance employee and customer satisfaction.

Target-State Questions Reveal Where to Begin

Although the leadership team of an organization might think they know which process to attack first, asking a few questions about the ideal target state will help:

  • What does the target state of customer satisfaction look like?
  • What is the biggest challenge in terms of exceeding customer expectations?

Process  Optimization in the Construction Industry:

For a number of reasons, a construction business may think the collections process should be optimized first. But upon further investigation into why  collections are a challenge, the real problem emerges.

Consistent progress necessary to justify billings (e.g. inspections moving forward, subs showing up, etc.) isn’t reliably happening on most job sites. So the project’s focus really needs to begin with defining accountability, establishing metrics to measure how jobs are running, and effectively communicating and tracking those metrics.

By digging into the question “What could we be doing to ensure customers are happy?” everyone from workers in the field to the management team can easily answer that question.

The answer: Eliminate unnecessary steps and accelerate project completion.

Target-State Questions Reveal Opportunities to Gain Competitive Advantage

What sets successful transformation initiatives apart is the ability to step back and find small changes that will drive revolutionary results.

  • Are there any areas where increased efficiency could give the business a competitive edge?
  • If we could wave a magic wand, what one process would we change and what would it look like?

Identifying opportunities for increased efficiency often reveals strategic areas where optimization can drive competitive advantage. By focusing on this type of change, organizations can differentiate themselves in the market and better satisfy the needs of their customers.

Process Optimization in the Construction Industry:

Residential construction businesses that recognize the importance of qualifying their leads are more efficient with their time and their resources. And they typically outperform the competition.

When a construction business takes the time to map out how much goes into assembling an accurate estimate, they stop trying to “win the job” and instead reframe the experience as a demonstration of the value they bring to the project.

Less time is spent chasing leads that aren’t going to convert and more time goes back into building up the business and properly managing projects. Suddenly, a competitive edge begins to materialize as the business sets itself apart from those offering “free estimates” and then managing endless change orders and overages.

Plus, teams stop operating in silos and start to embrace collaboration.

Target-State Questions Help Motivate Employees

  • Where can we streamline workflows to make work less stressful and more enjoyable?

This one is often a hard self-reflection pill to swallow for process owners.

Before key processes are optimized, business leaders and process owners often find themselves constantly putting out fires and navigating crash landings as projects come to a close. This happens for a number of reasons. One common reason includes lack of trust in the employees.

It’s understandable that many process owners step in and step on the toes of the employees managing a certain task. This often ends up in a cycle of frustration that saps employee morale.

Process Optimization in the Construction Industry:

Let’s say an email comes in from a customer. It’s the job of the relationship lead to answer the email. But without a clearly-defined process in place, the owner of the construction business — used to putting out fires in a reactive way — sees the email and jumps in to respond. Going forward, the relationship lead feels less ownership of the process and is left wondering if the owner is about to jump in at any given time.

Implementing strategies to create a culture of accountability is easier than you think.

When the team gains a clear understanding of individual roles and specific responsibilities, everyone tends to perform tasks more efficiently and effectively. This kind of clarity boosts job satisfaction and morale, minimizes the duplication of efforts, and eliminates conflicts that often arise from overlapping or undefined roles.

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By talking with people in the field and asking the right questions, opportunities to improve these and other processes will begin to emerge.

Contact us today to learn more about Operational Excellence and the dramatic results you can unlock for your business