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Seizing the Moment: Leveraging Digital Modernization for Process Improvement

Updated: Feb 28

We are all familiar with the phrases “tunnel vision” or “getting lost in the weeds”:  the idea that we get so engrossed in our day-to-day activities that we miss opportunities to think strategically or consider alternatives. Maybe worse, we realize those opportunities exist, but we deprioritize acting on them in preference to completing the immediate task at hand.

It seems there is never a convenient time for process improvement. Dedicating time and effort to any process can be daunting, especially to a business process reengineering (BPR) project. BPR efforts tend to be thought of as large efforts, utilizing experts with specialized knowledge and skills, and focusing on the radical redesign and improvement of core business processes to achieve dramatic performance enhancements. Granted there are some organizations which will find themselves needing to take on such an effort, but for most others this sounds intimidating.  However, opportunities do exist to make lean process improvements without undertaking a large project. The key is in the timing.

When I started my IT career, it still wasn’t uncommon to find IT projects which aimed to digitize a manual or paper-based process. These days most of those manual processes have already been converted.  And development efforts are spent on much more innovative solutions. However, some technologies do fall out of favor, tech stacks change, and products sunset. These scenarios can bring forward an opportunity or need to re-write existing solutions with a new technology.  Undertaking an upgrade or re-write project provides an excellent opportunity for organizations to consider lean process improvement.  These approaches can significantly enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and overall success of the upgrade project:

Identifying Inefficiencies: Lean process improvement involves analyzing and mapping existing processes to identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement. When embarking on an upgrade project, take the time to evaluate the current processes to understand their strengths and weaknesses. This assessment helps identify areas that can be streamlined, optimized, or eliminated to achieve greater efficiency in the upgraded system.

Optimizing Workflows: Lean process improvement enables organizations to optimize workflows by removing unnecessary steps, reducing duplication of effort, and improving communication and coordination between teams. Upgrading a system often provides an opportunity to rethink and redesign workflows to align with industry best practices and leverage new functionalities of the upgraded software. This can lead to improved productivity, faster turnaround times, and reduced waste.

Enhancing User Experience: User experience is a critical aspect of any upgrade project. Lean process improvement allows organizations to focus on user-centric design principles, ensuring that the upgraded system meets the needs of end-users effectively. By involving end-users in the process improvement efforts, organizations can gather valuable feedback, address pain points, and design workflows that are intuitive, user-friendly, and tailored to specific user roles and responsibilities.  Those who operate within or are affected by business processes are often those best suited to provide ideas on how to improve those processes.

Leveraging Automation and Integration: Upgrades often bring new features, capabilities, and integration possibilities. Lean process improvement enables organizations to evaluate how automation and integration can be leveraged to streamline processes and eliminate manual, time-consuming tasks. By identifying opportunities to automate repetitive or low-value activities, organizations can free up resources, reduce errors, and improve overall process efficiency.

Continuous Improvement Culture: By embracing opportunities for Lean process improvement, an organization can instill a culture of continuous improvement. By adopting these approaches during an upgrade project, organizations establish a mindset of regularly evaluating and optimizing processes. This culture of continuous improvement can extend beyond the upgrade project, enabling organizations to continually enhance their operations, adapt to evolving business needs, and stay ahead of the competition.

Cost and Time Efficiency: Lean process improvement contributes to cost and time efficiency. By eliminating waste, optimizing workflows, and automating processes, organizations can reduce project timelines, minimize rework, and achieve cost savings. These efficiency gains can be further amplified by leveraging the expertise of process improvement professionals who bring specialized knowledge and methodologies to drive impactful change.

Integrating lean process improvement into an upgrade project provides numerous benefits, and the great news is, these don’t have to be large scale overhauls of the business.  By embracing these approaches when the opportunity presents itself, organizations can ensure that their upgrade projects result in streamlined, effective processes that deliver long-term value and contribute to the organization’s overall success.  And to level up any process improvement effort, consider incorporating Human-Centered Design  practices to ensure that derived solutions meet the needs of the customers and employees that use them.


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