Have you ever thought about how easy it is to uncover process opportunities?  Most executives tell me ‘no’ as it seems much harder than it is most of the time yet they are very interested in these opportunities to improve their business.

As interested as they are in these opportunities, they seem to always ask their teams to look specifically for cost savings – although there is much to be said for good cost savings projects, they can miss the boat.

Certainly, when I was a VP of Operations and Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer, the Board of Directors could not get enough cost savings.  It made no sense as growing the business and improving margins is what achieved a significant return on investment yet they always asked about cost savings.  With the CEO’s support, we prevailed and looked at the bigger picture of results vs. cost alone; however, these demands are not uncommon. Our clients, especially those from large multi-national companies talk non-stop about cost savings.  “Corporate demands we find 10% savings.”  Have you ever heard that before?

What would you say?  How would you go about it?  Well, first, let us caution against blind cost savings.  Push back.  If margin improvement is the true objective, the same priorities might not be pursued.  If cash flow is more important, there’s no doubt the same priorities wouldn’t be pursued in most cases.  If growing the business is #1, perhaps priorities related to growth should be pursued which might or might not relate to the same cost savings projects.  Dig into the request so you work on the right priorities.

Next, follow the easy path – don’t wait for some sort of mandate.  Doesn’t it make sense to always be on the lookout for what makes sense for your company?  Whether that is finding ways to support business growth or reducing costs, there is no reason to wait for someone to ask!

The great news is that there are several ways to uncover process opportunities:

  • ASK – simple yet effective.  Of course it is not simple unless you care and are interested in the responses.  The people closest to the processes will know how to improve them.
  • Look around you – it doesn’t have to be complex; merely take a look at what seems to be working around you.  Have you toured facilities like yours?  What did they do?  Find the best of customers, suppliers, facilities from other types of industries.  Undoubtedly, there are more ideas than you can implement at your fingertips.
  • Read – read the newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, trade magazines and the like.  You’re bound to gain ideas.

The best process opportunities come from the easiest of places.  We are frequently called in to resolve issues or raise the bar, and we gain 80%+ of the ideas from the people at the company.  We are yet to go into a company and not see untapped potential…have you asked about process opportunities?  If you’d like help in rattling these cages to shake ideas loose and speeding up the identification and implementation of process opportunities, contact us.