How to set process improvement goals

Is your organization struggling to be productive and efficient? If your customers aren’t getting results and your employees are frustrated because they can’t achieve their targets, something may be wrong with your company’s processes. 

Process improvement is the practice of optimizing performance in an organization. It helps a business achieve its strategic objectives. The first step to effective performance improvement is to set clear process-improvement goals.

Set SMART process-improvement goals

Many organizations use process-improvement methodologies to optimize their operations. However, those that set SMART goals as part of their chosen methodology are more likely to succeed. The goals are what focuses and drives a team in its process-improvement efforts.

The SMART acronym stands for

  • Specific. One of the biggest mistakes organizations make with goal setting is choosing goals that are generic or vague, such as “improve profitability” or “increase revenue.” A specific goal is detailed and clear, making it more actionable and tactical. The smaller and more specific a goal, the more effective it will be for process improvement. 
  • Measurable. Process-improvement goals must have measurable attributes that can be tracked. These can be quantitative metrics like percentages, time spent, or dollar amounts. Some measurable goals, like customer sentiment, have qualitative attributes as well.
  • Actionable. If a goal isn’t realistic, it won’t be attainable. Employees may lose interest in achieving the goal because it will seem like a far-away fantasy. Ensure that your process-improvement goals are ones your organization can act on. Once you’ve achieved them, you can set incrementally more challenging goals.
  • Relevant. The goals for your process-improvement team must be strategically aligned with the goals of the organization. If the goals aren’t relevant to the business, they likely don’t need to be completed at this point, and your team can focus on other, more important goals.
  • Time-bound. When should your organization achieve its goals? Having a timeline makes the goals more specific and actionable. It also enables your team to create a clear schedule as part of the plan.

Align process-improvement goals with the goals of the business

When setting process-improvement goals, first figure out how you can help the company achieve its overall objectives. 

For example, if one of the organization’s main goals is to improve customer satisfaction scores in the current fiscal year, then your organization may need to focus on customer-facing or quality-related processes. 

If your organization lacks specific processes in those areas or has difficulty staying on track with specific steps, then those processes can use some improvement.

When larger, organization-wide initiatives aren’t in sync with the process-improvement goals, you may run into problems. 

Business leaders may not back your initiatives because you could be pulling resources away from their priorities. In addition, employees may have difficulty focusing on your activities because their role-based targets may align more with the organization’s goals than with the process-improvement goals.

Common process-improvement goals for organizations

Not sure what kind of goals you need to set for your process-improvement initiatives? Here are a few common categories to consider. Regardless of which area you’re trying to improve, make sure your goals are focused and iterative, so you can make small, sequential changes and measure your results along the way.

  • Productivity and efficiency. When you’re trying to improve a process, you’re looking to do more in less time.
  • Customer satisfaction. If the people you serve are pleased, your team will spend less time putting out fires or dealing with irate customers.
  • Employee satisfaction. When employees have the processes, systems, and resources they need to excel in their roles, they will be happier and more productive.
  • Compliance. Many processes are in place to reduce risk and noncompliance. Focusing on this area may reduce fines and penalties.
  • Agility. An organization that can pivot to meet changing demands will be able to respond to market needs faster than competitors.

Process-improvement goals help your organization work more effectively toward positive outcomes. Be sure to set SMART goals and align them with larger organizational objectives. This will ensure that everyone in the organization is on board and on target.

This article is originally published on Jul 05, 2021, and updated on Aug 06, 2021.
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Helping executives and business owners from every industry to keep them on their path to success. You can reach Kenneth through his contact form.

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