Business process optimization
Our Student Affairs Strategic Initiatives division works to optimize business processes across the organization. Review our guidelines and resources for more information.
Problem-solving solutions and process improvements
Before deciding to change or improve a “broken” process, you must first identify and evaluate the inefficient elements. Spending time fixing a symptom of a process instead of the actual cause is costly and doesn’t always solve the problem.
Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC)
DMAIC is a set of steps that can be used as a problem-solving tool for any process improvement project.
- Define problems, goals, resources, scope, and timeline for improvement projects.
- Measure the problem(s) using data, determine success measures, and conduct a cost-benefit analysis.
- Analyze the problem to determine the root cause by mapping processes, engaging subject matter experts, and verifying why each step of the process exists.
- Improve your plan by determining all potential solutions, identifying risks, and prioritizing focus based on available resources.
- Control the defined solution(s) to ensure original problems do not resurface, measure new processes against metrics defined in the “measure” phase, communicate documentation, and conduct trainings as needed.
The eight wastes of processes
LEAN methodology focuses on the elimination of waste in operations. Waste is defined as any step in a process that does not add value to the customer or increase efficiency.
As a best practice, identify the eight process wastes and eliminate them during improvement projects:
- errors: failure to meet expectations of a customer or providing a defective product
- overproduction: producing more of something than is needed for the current process (which usually leads to inventory wastes)
- delays: time spent waiting for something to happen before acting on the next step
- non-utilized talent: not utilizing the right person for the job or task
- transportation: movement of items from one location to another to complete a process
- inventory: excessive items that take up space and need to be stored until later use
- motion: unnecessary movement of people between steps in a process
- extra processing: steps taken to ensure a higher level of quality than deemed valuable
Process design 101
If you have determined that a process needs to be created, begin with defining the “what, why, who, and when.”
Best practice recommendations:
- Try to avoid defining a new project process until the other steps, current process, and all known requirements are completed.
- Don’t refer to brainstormed ideas until all other steps are completed.
- Inserting work-arounds and temporary fixes may get the project done on time, but at the cost of additional labor hours and money.
- Following a model for designing processes will reduce or eliminate these setbacks from the start. You do not need to be an expert process designer to be successful—just follow best practices.