Business Process Improvement - A Perspective

Development of Global Business Organizations, Multi National Corporations and the Corporate has always found a lot of academicians as well as the think tanks and Management Experts taking interest in analyzing the past, the present trends and prophesying the future trends. The study of growth of trade, the industries and the Organizations and the various phases of improvement and evolution that they go through prove to be important subject of study by every Management graduate and professional.

It was in the early times after the Second World War that we saw the evolution in terms of industrialization that brought about systems and methods aiding mass production. Next few decades saw the emergence of various systems and methods of manufacturing being practiced and the best being benchmarked in the industries.

In 1980s we saw a major movement with reference to Quality Management and the various systems including Just In Time, TQC, Statistical Process Control, Quality Policy, Quality function deployment as well as Continuous Process Improvement, the various Quality processes such as Taguchi Method, Poka yoke system, quality processes defined by D.Jurang etc helped shape the industries and manufacturing methods.

Later on the ISO standards as well as six sigma quality systems etc came into being and are being followed currently globally. At this stage we saw the shift of focus from producing in bulk to producing quality, controlling the defect and finally went on to realize the need for controlling the process. It was also realized that controlling the process included focusing on people and investing into people’s process too.

By 1990s the world saw the introduction and faster evolution of Computers that slowly and steadily took over all of the manual tasks, resulting in development of MRP and ERP systems that streamlined and controlled processes across all functions and changing the way the Organizations function, the production takes place and the entire supply chain functions associated with the Organization.

At the same time, the power began to shift from the Organizations and Marketers to the Customers. Customer satisfaction and Customer Loyalty began to be the benchmarks around which the Organizations began to build their businesses that included their manufacturing, planning and delivery processes. Computerization and Service Orientation managed to re-build all the models of Organizational function and business practices across all fields.

As we have entered the globalization era, the functioning of Organizations and businesses have become increasingly competitive and dynamic. The nature of competition, the nature of production, the market features and technology coupled with focus on R&D are redefining the way Organizations function and think.

On the financial front too, Organizations have become responsible for and answerable to the share holders. As the challenges for Organizations in the new world characterized by intense competition and competitiveness and fast changing scenarios on all fronts increase, survival, growth and profits demand continuous involvement in redefining management thought and business processes.

When we talk of processes, we are not only referring to manufacturing processes but overall business processes that contain the manufacturing and other functional processes as a part of the whole. In the fast evolving world, no Organization can continue to operate with old and antiquated processes and no amount of investments into the old processes will help. Similarly automating an old process is not going to be of much help.

Today a customer walking into an airport, hotel or a cafe expects a complete experience that involves not only the physical service or the product but the ambience, the process as well as the way he or she perceives the Organization through the experience. Just the pricing of the product or service no more holds good and it is the Customer’s perception of the Company, the service and total value of his experience that drives his buying habit.

In current times, organizations have had to rethink on the human resource management and bring in best practices in HR management too. Only by creating a culture and environment that boosts employee morale, involvement and output by providing employee welfare and satisfaction, Organizations are able to attract and hold on to the right human resources and this plays an important part in making the organization achieve a competitive edge.

Technology, Globalization and evolving markets as well as changing scenarios with effect to product development and resource availability etc are pushing managements to think differently. The question of survival or the Organization is connected with many dynamic factors and the only way that Organizations can survive and grow is by continually working on their business processes.

As the Organizations focus on improving their business processes, they find everything including functional processes, resources, finances, systems as well as the culture, thinking pattern, values and vision changing. Like a living organism that keeps growing with continuous changes as a part of evolution, the same is true in case of Organizations too.

Today it is the business processes that define the way Organizations exist, function and obtain the competitive edge to compete and finally to be sought after by the Customers. Only those who are able to continually work on improving the business processes find their path for survival and growth in the future times.

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