Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Fix a Process One Link at a Time

A process is only as strong as your weakest link

So you have a process with various inputs. And at the end of the process is a deliverable. On paper the process looks great, but when executed, you are either cutting it too close to the deadline or missing the deadline altogether. This kind of defeats the process, right? Well, not exactly. You've heard the saying - your process is only as strong as your weakest link? It’s time to identify the weakest link and make it much stronger if you are going to improve on the timeliness of your deliverables.

Let’s say you have a marketing campaign to launch. The steps in order to launch include:

  1. Campaign outline
  2. Copy creation
  3. Copy approval
  4. Images
  5. Development in your marketing automation platform
  6. Final approval
  7. Deploy

For each simple campaign you've designated two weeks for launch. You've calculated a time frame for each step and are ready to execute. But because you know something isn't working properly--this time you are watching the process carefully to see where the problems are. In monitoring everything, you notice that the approval process is where the bottleneck lies.

To address this you adjust the process timeline to take the approvals into consideration. In the example there are two places for approvals, once the copy is developed, and finally, once the campaign is ready for activation.

After you've adjusted your timeline for approvals, it’s time to take a look at the approval process itself with the team. Is there anything that can be done to make the process easier? Is it even necessary at both of these places?  You make your adjustments and measure this particular link the next campaign you launch to see if there were any improvements.

Focusing on a singular weak link in a process chain might seem like a slow approach to fixing throughput compared to other approaches you might take. But in order to improve the process you must improve the rate of the constraint. This will make lasting improvements to the process.

But when you fixed the first weak link, don’t be shocked if you notice another bottleneck in the process. Often times when you fix one link, another link will become the weakest link and will need to be addressed in a similar way.

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