Even the little things can make a big difference!

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Even the little things can make a big difference!


When you picture your organisation, what value do you place on the way that people work?Are there some work processes that occupy the spotlight and receive your full attention? Do some dwell in the shade, overlooked and sometimes undervalued or ignored?


Now I know the phrase “every little helps” exudes a bit of cheesiness so please forgive me for leaning on such a cliché, but the truth is, every little really does help – and this applies to processes.


That was exactly the case for one of my clients who arrange over 3000 business trips a year for their employees. You can imagine the ideal approach to look something like this…

Seems reasonable, right? Well in this instance, that was not the case; instead, there was so much pain and anguish from employees after submitting their expense claim. They were confronted with an unclear process, frequent rejections and a TWO MONTH wait before getting their money back….


At any one time there was over £1 million of outstanding expense claims – certainly not business best practice!


I was asked to work with an internal team of subject experts to identify the waste in this process. We visualised the way they were currently working using our simple (but very powerful) visualisation method, and pinpointed the areas causing the most pain. Once the team had crushed down the activity and built it back up again, they were presented with a new and improved way of working. The new process was by no means perfect; it never really is. But every improvement is a step forward in the right direction.


What I love about this company, and all the clients I work with, is their receptiveness to the cycle of improvement. They understand that in order to remain competitive, they have to look at every aspect of the organisation from a bird’s eye view and not shy away from change.


It’s also worth mentioning how focusing on a non-critical process had a long-lasting influence on the organisation – sustainability is very important to us at Calvaria (why implement a change that only lasts a moment?). Once a standardised process was established, we trained the team in our BPM method which gave them the in-house capabilities to sustain the improvements.


So what were the results? Remember when I said every little helps? Well it really did for my client. Within six months, the value of outstanding expense claims was reduced by 80% and the lead time for paying employees was cut in half from 60 to 30 days!


It’s not always about the tangible benefits. Each member of the team now had a better understanding of their role and how to carry out their responsibilities. And the employees? Well for a start, they were noticeably more happy! This showed in the quality of their work and the positive customer feedback.


So I end with a final question…


If you reviewed the processes within your organisation, would you sideline any for being too little to make a difference?


Of course the big wins come from focusing on core processes but let’s not forget about the “little processes” too! These also have the potential to bring meaningful change to your organisation and failing to recognise this could be a costly mistake.

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