Business Optimization Consulting

A 3 Step Model for Operational Excellence

Executives know that business optimization consulting is needed to lower operational costs, improve staff productivity, streamline business processes, increase customer satisfaction, and expand company value.

But knowing this doesn't make it easy. Few companies are well versed in applying proven methods and best practices that drive the most significant and sustained company benefits.

Fortunately, Johnny Grow research and over three decades of management consulting experience share a prescriptive approach to deliver the highest impact performance improvements in the shortest time.

So, if you are considering business optimization consulting at your company, consider an approach that includes the three transformational processes below.

The Big 3 Transformational Drivers

Most companies will find the biggest uplift opportunities can be achieved by focusing on the three areas of process optimization, technology automation and business intelligence.

1

Process Optimization

Labor is the biggest expense for most businesses. Improving productivity can simultaneously lower that expense and yield more output. It also allows the company to scale operations without scaling resources.

There are three ways to improve staff productivity. You can redesign processes to be more streamlined and effective, apply technology to automate activities, and develop analytics to work smarter.

Begin with business process redesign. It's a precursor to the other two. There's no sense in automating inefficient processes.

Business Process Design

When evaluating which company processes will most benefit from improvements, focus your attention on the most significant cost levers (i.e., people, time, cycles). Within those levers, seek out pain points, activities, errors, deviations, and rework.

Also review use cases that include the following conditions:

  • Heavy email collaboration
  • Reliance on spreadsheets
  • Shared local documents
  • Shadow systems
  • Time-intensive, repetitive manual steps
  • Frequent customer engagement

When doing business process redesign with clients we inevitably discover two things. The first is activities that can be performed more effectively and in less time. The second is activities that can be eliminated. The latter provides an immediate reallocation of time.

We often use Agile Value Stream Mapping as a process redesign method because it quickly identifies idle periods which extend process durations. It also measures work stream steps by value or non-value. That makes it very well suited to eliminating non-value-added steps and activities.

Agile Value Stream Mapping

When done right, your improved processes will root out excess cost, create consistency, improve quality, facilitate guided execution, and support continuous incremental improvements.

They will also create confidence and trust among employees. Highly efficient and repeatable processes become your intellectual property.

2

Technology Automation

Technology is needed to make business improvements consistent, automated, and scalable.

But processes must first be defined for sequence and outcomes. To achieve this quickly, we often use the Universal Process Notation (UPN) method.

Universal Process Notation

A UPN diagram is a process map that facilitates automation. It's essentially a flowchart of steps and conditions. Each step allows drill down to details if needed.

UPN Step

Once the process is defined you can apply Business Process Management (BPM) or workflow tools to automate the steps and make those processes fast, consistent, and repeatable.

There are several types of technology automation. They include things like on-screen interactions which prompt staff for responses, triggered actions which alert or request employees to complete an action, or behind the scenes workflows which automatically take action.

Salesforce Flow

Many times, these workflow tools are part of your ERP, CRM or other business application platform. But if not, there are many standalone tools that are simple to use and very effective.

Other technologies that can drive operational transformation include AI and process mining.

Generative AI can produce content for processes which are delayed because they are waiting for human content creation. Predictive AI can show how to achieve output or outcomes in the least time and cost.

Process mining software analyzes work streams and performance results based on event data, normally event logs. It uses this data to visually display the company's end-to-end company flows. It then makes recommendations to remap those journeys to accelerate throughput, reduce deviations, save time, and improve effectiveness.

Business Process Mining

In our experience with this technology, we often find that visually displaying a company's enterprise-wide work streams is a wake-up call because it looks like a spaghetti diagram. This can be an unpleasant realization but it's the trigger to drive change.

3

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence tools such as dashboards bring instrumentation to operational performance. They deliver real-time measurements, show improvements in financial terms, and display variances in need of swift course corrections.

However, business intelligence is not an event, it's a journey. The tool we use to illustrate the progressive steps in this journey is what we call the Analytics Continuum.

Analytics Continuum

This model shows how different types of information deliver increasingly more business value.

It defines information value based on business outcomes using a four-tier model. Higher value analytics deliver insights that yield more powerful decisions and financial results.

When considering this journey keep in mind that making your way up the pyramid does not start by evaluating tools or technologies. It starts by defining what information will drive the biggest results.

The Point is This

The goal of business optimization consulting is to improve company performance and business outcomes.

Company operations are built on people performing processes. You can drive quantum leap improvements by making those processes simplified, streamlined and automated; in that order. That then results in achieving outcomes that are efficient, effective and predictable.

Here's the final thing to remember. You cannot refine a process before it is consistent. You cannot improve it until it's measurable. And you cannot automate it before it is streamlined. Otherwise, you automate inefficient processes which just incur inefficiencies faster.

Instead, apply a framework that includes the three performance improvements listed above. This approach will root out excess cost, accelerate execution, enable scalability, create new value, and facilitate continuous incremental improvements.

"85% of the reasons for staff failure are deficiencies in the systems and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better." —W. Edwards Deming