We are about to start the new financial year in next two weeks, with the new financial year comes a set of targets and plans to be implemented. Whilst the numbers move northwards, the resources are at best constant or get shaved off by a few percentage points. The front line managers are expected to identify areas of improvement and get the plan delivered. Here are few pointers, which will guide you in selecting action projects.

Use the popular voting

Multi-voting is the least formal way to select an improvement project because the results are based on the members opinion rather than on hard data. The term multi-voting is derived from the process of taking multiple votes to determine what problem is most important to the team members. You can use brainstorming or some other method to generate a list of possible projects. The team member’s vote for the ones they consider the most important. At the end of the first round of voting, drop the items with the fewest votes from the list, and them again vote on the remaining items. Continue the process, till only when or two items are left on the list. The result of multiple voting reflects a consensus among the team members on what’s important to the group. The final project therefore garners support from the team, as they had a say in its selection. This is one of the fastest way to identify a working area.

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Listen to the customer

Your company’s goal is to satisfy and delight customers with its product or a service, asking the customers on what’s missing in your service delivery chain is a time tested and effective way to zero down on areas of improvement. Appoint a committee and interview your customers on what can be done better. This strategy is highly effective in areas or departments that have not been in close contact with their end customers, support functions like Human Resources and Finance can use this to get feedback from their internal customers on service delivery and expected improvements. This strategy is a great way to engage with your customers, they feel honored if you design your service delivery processes with input from them. This is about aligning your products to the customer’s needs and wants.

Study how time is used

Most of the departments spend a great deal of time working on problems or doing rework, knowing how employees use their time can expose hidden problems and time wasters. A simple time study will unearth areas where resources are spent or inefficiencies galore. Further study will help you identify root causes and solution to these inefficiencies. You will encounter resistance, if you propose this mechanism to identify areas of improvement, particularly for the first few times when this tool is used. People have grown used to the idea that someone keeps track of their time only to catch their mistakes, if the employees fear that the results will be used against them, the team will never collect accurate data. Assure all the people affected, that you are only looking for faults in the system, not judging individual performance and live this pledge to build an atmosphere of trust.

By using these tools for identifying the low hanging fruit for enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of the business process, you will help you company and team in building a product that your customers love.

Jappreet Sethi

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