Business process improvement (BPI) can be defined in many ways, including as:

  • A strategic planning methodology aimed at identifying the operations or employee skills that could be improved to encourage smoother procedures, more efficient workflow and overall business growth.
  • An approach designed to help organizations redesign their existing business operations to accomplish significant production improvement.
  • The improvement of the performance of the organisation by continuously improving the processes in an incremental manner.
  • The proactive task of identifying, analyzing and improving upon existing business processes within an organization for optimization and to meet new standards of quality.
  • A systematic approach to help any organisation make significant advances in the way in which its business processes operate (Harrington).

In the current economic climate, business process flexibility is key to organisational survival.

Business process improvement:

  • Refers to making a process more effective, efficient, or transparent. Work can be completed more cost effectively, quickly, and easily.
  • Focuses on increasing customer value through improving quality, enhancing service, reducing costs, and/or increasing productivity of an activity or business process.
  • Aims to reduce waste and/or variation in processes to achieve the desired outcome by using existing resources in a better way.

The purpose of business process improvement is to meet customer demands and business goals more effectively. Successful organizations improve their efficiency, generally measured in profits, through the use of process improvement.

It can be the case that incremental change can result in a dramatic change over a period of time.

Business process improvement is an ongoing practice and should always be followed up by the analysis of tangible areas of improvement. When implemented successfully, the results can be measured in the improvement of product quality, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, increased productivity, development skills of employees, efficiency and increased profit resulting in higher and faster return on investment.

Because BPI implementation is a project, all project management principles apply.

Reasons why you should consider Business process improvement:

  • To deliver better business results.
  • To improve customer service.
  • To reduce business costs.
  • To reduce process cycle time.
  • To reduce mistakes and re-works .

Effective Business process improvement will typically generate positive results in the following two major areas:

  • Increased Operational Efficiency
  • Increased Customer Focus

BPI, when implemented by means of a structured methodology, helps companies to reduce their operational costs and cycle time, enhance customer service and improve the quality of their products or services.

Improving the quality of processes are critical factors in the success of any organization.

Company can waste precious resources such as money, time and opportunities when they  fail to examine the processes they use to conduct their business.

The problem with process improvement is that organisations don’t focus on what the paying customer wants. Usually focus is on what managers or owners want, so they optimize around the wrong persons. All process improvement does is refocus the processes back on giving the customer what they pay for.

Business process improvement is a fundamental to business management.  If you run an operation (and all businesses do, one way or another) you rely on two things:

For a company to be productive and profitable, its processes must be effective.

  • The people you employ, their skills and capabilities.
  • The processes that you use, the way you do things.

So, the only ways an operation can perform better are to improve its processes or its people.