Business Process Improvement in 6 Actionable Steps - Toggl Blog
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Business Process Improvement in 6 Actionable Steps

Kat Boogaard Kat Boogaard Last Updated:
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What is business process improvement and why should you care? We’re breaking it all down for you right here.

Imagine this: You have a client who just made a request that you need to fulfill—and quickly.

You remember doing something similar for a previous client, but you can’t remember exactly how you went about it.

So, you search through all of your old emails for any helpful clues. There’s nothing there.

You reference an old process that you remember your team has in place, but quickly realize it’s outdated and irrelevant.

You have no choice but to start from scratch and try to find the best way to accommodate that client’s ask.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Not only did you waste a bunch of precious time searching for the best way forward, but you’re also left feeling uncertain about whether or not you actually did the right thing.

Unfortunately, this happens far too often in all sorts of different businesses. Rather than getting standardized processes in place that can easily be referred to, people continue to reinvent the wheel—or, let their well-intentioned processes collect cobwebs.

No more! Business process improvement is here to save you time and headaches. Let’s dig in.

What Exactly is Business Process Improvement?

You’ve probably heard that “We’ve always done it this way” are some of the most expensive words in business. And, that’s true—it’s easy, but ultimately counterproductive, to fall into the trap of doing things just because they’re predictable or comfortable.

This is where business process improvement comes into play. It involves taking a cold, hard look at the current way you’re doing things and seeing if you could remove inefficiencies or roadblocks.

Business Process Improvement (BPI) is an approach designed to help organizations redesign their existing business operations to accomplish significant improvement in production,

-explains Techopedia.

While streamlining the incremental steps of business processes is a crucial part of this approach, it’s important to note that the goal of business process improvement is to improve the overall outcome—rather than just the process itself.

Why Does Business Process Improvement Matter?

Many companies make the mistake of writing off their processes as inconsequential—they’re getting things done anyway, so how important can the be?

Make no mistake, business process improvement matters, as evidenced by the numerous benefits you’ll experience by focusing on building and refining effective processes.

1. Save Time

Here’s a scary statistic: 44% of workers say that the primary cause of their wasted time during the workday is inefficient processes.

Employees waste hours each week searching for the information they need, jumping through hoops, and navigating roadblocks that crop up time and time again.

Just imagine how much time you could save employees with effective processes in place—and, even further, what amazing things they could accomplish with that extra time.

2. Improve Results

As mentioned, the primary goal of business process improvement is to improve the result of the process, and not just the process itself.

In addition to empowering you to increase quality while decreasing time, processes also help to ensure consistency. Since everybody is following the same standardized way of doing things, you can feel confident that every single thing that’s produced meets expectations.

3. Onboard New Team Members

There’s a lot of knowledge transfer that needs to happen when you add a new member to your team. You need to get them up to speed on tasks and routines they’ll do time and time again.

That’s far easier with a documented process in place. Your new hires will have something to refer back to when they get stuck or have questions, without having to feel like a pest for asking you or another team member for help.

4. Boost Morale

Employees understandably become frustrated when they feel like their voices aren’t heard and their opinions aren’t valued.

Focusing on process improvement requires you to listen closely to your team to figure out what processes just aren’t working.

Not only does that inclusion alone give them a boost, but needing to spend way less time on frustrating hurdles and inefficient processes will improve their spirits too.

6 Key Steps to Improve Your Own Processes

Alright, so the effort to establish new processes or improve your existing ones is well worth it. But, how do you go about it?

Here are six steps to take to make sure your processes are as streamlined and effective as possible.

1. Spend Plenty of Time Observing

You can’t fix a problem unless you know it exists, so the first step here is to observe the way your team works.

Think of this as the identification stage. What are the repeated tasks and workflows your team follows?

A lot can get lost or forgotten when the workday gets busy. One of the best ways to get an accurate look at what processes your team relies on is by keeping a simple log of the big things you accomplish during a workday—and asking your team to do the same.

After a month—or sometimes even a week—you’ll be able to look back at those activity logs and see that your marketing team needs to look at and refine your processes for:

  • Responding to media requests
  • Creating ebooks
  • Hosting webinars

Now, with those focus areas in place, you’re able to get started in a way that will immediately serve your team.

2. Map the Current Process

Ok, so you know where you need to be refining your processes. But, how? Start by mapping the process exactly as it exists right now.

Let’s say you’re starting by looking at your process for hosting webinars. Maybe your existing process looks like this:

  1. Host a team meeting to determine topic and date for webinar
  2. Design team gets started on the presentation slides
  3. Tech team sets up the landing page for people to sign up for the webinar
  4. Content team finishes copy for the presentation and landing page
  5. Tons of tweaks are made to the slides and landing page based on what the content team came up with
  6. Another review stage
  7. Even more tweaks and changes
  8. Webinar goes live


This is a pretty straightforward example. But, it shows how writing out your existing processes in this way allows you to immediately spot where time is being wasted or the process is falling short.

Be aware that—since your team is far more involved in these processes—you’re going to need plenty of buy-in from them at this stage. They should be the ones walking you through how the current process works, so you aren’t mapping out an idealized version.

3. Identify Pain Points and Solutions

Remember, your goal here isn’t just to document your existing process—it’s to find ways to improve it.

So, now you need to tear things down. Look back at the process you just outlined and ask yourself (and your team!):

  • Where are things getting stuck?
  • Where are we wasting time?
  • How could things be running smoother?

In our webinar example, it seems like a lot of hours are wasted on revisions and tweaks that probably could’ve been avoided altogether had the content team created the copy before the slides or landing page was created.

That means that the bulk of the webinar is already pulled together, and the tech and design teams can complete their elements with that necessary foundation already in place.

Put simply, the pain point here is that too many revisions cause the team to be working down to the wire. And, a simple way to address that would be to start the entire process with the copy—rather than the design.

4. Map a New Process

You’ve uncovered a solution to the problem. Now you need to take what you’ve identified and use it to sketch out what your ideal workflow would look like.

Let’s stick with the webinar example. We know that the content team being the kickoff point (after the team-wide meeting) will remove a lot of hassle. So, with that in mind, we adjust the process to look like:


  1. Host a team meeting to determine topic and date for webinar
  2. Content team creates copy for the presentation slides and landing page
  3. Design team creates the presentation slides based on the copy
  4. Tech team sets up the landing page for people to sign up for the webinar
  5. Team-wide review of all assets
  6. Make necessary tweaks and changes
  7. Webinar goes live


You’ll see that just by changing the order in which things get done, we actually removed one entire step from the process.

Additionally, now things move in a way that makes sense and leads to a far better product—since people aren’t in a time crunch to get their portions of the project churned out and you aren’t running the risk of important revisions being missed.

5. Gather Feedback and Questions

You think this new process looks pretty good. But, it’s important to remember that it’s your team members who are in the weeds with your workflows, so you need to get their thoughts and opinions.

Do they think this new process would work well? Even more importantly, do they spot any places where you could run into issues or bottlenecks?

Getting their insights before making this new process formal will not only include them in something that directly pertains to their workdays, but also allow you to foresee any process-related problems and take proactive, preventative action to correct them.

6. Document Your Finalized Process

Getting everybody to agree on this new way of doing things isn’t enough—you need to document your process. In fact, make this your golden rule: Anything you’ve done more than three times deserves to be documented.

While most people agree on the importance of proper documentation for keeping things organized and standardized, this is still an area where many companies fall short. In fact, one study indicates that only 4% of companies “always” document their processes.

Don’t be part of that statistic and take the time to write down important processes for your team—so that you can all easily refer back to them (and update them!) whenever it’s necessary.

Moving Forward (For Now)

You can breathe a sigh of relief. You just drastically improved one of the staple processes for your business, and you can repeat those same steps for any other process you need to revamp.

But, remember, you can’t just stop there.

Even when they’re documented, processes aren’t set in stone—and, they shouldn’t be. Your processes need the wiggle room to change and evolve with you, your team, and your business goals.

So, while standardizing and refining is great, don’t get too committed to that one way of doing things. Chances are, you’ll find another way to improve it in the near future.

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a freelance writer specializing in career, self-development, and productivity topics. She's passionate about being as efficient and effective as possible—much of which she owes to her 114 words per minute average typing speed. When her fingers aren't flying on the keyboard, she loves to bake, read, hike, or tackle yet another DIY project around her home.

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