Business Enterprise Mapping is in the business of studying and improving organizational performance. In our work with clients, we consistently see the same underlying problems and opportunities preventing them from achieving their goals and objectives. Shown below are 7 common business problems that we see in virtually every company.
The 7 Common Business Problems
1. Undefined business processes
On average, about 50% of all organizational problems are caused by undefined business processes. The work in any organization should be clearly defined through business systems, business processes, tasks, and knowledge. The improvement of any organization begins by first understanding what work is being done and how that work contributes to serving customers.
2. Organization silos
We find that another 20% of all business problems come from organizational silos. Because most organizations are structured along vertical and functional lines, responsibilities are vague and departmental goals are often in conflict with one another. To address this opportunity, leadership should completely rethink organization structures and align them directly along business systems and business process workflows. Every business process should have a single position responsible and accountable for its successful performance. Leaders often neglect to match work with accountability.
3. Incomplete performance measures
The measurement of meaningful performance, while very straightforward conceptually, is typically missed in most organizations. KPIs are useful but not sufficient to measure organization performance. Successful measurement involves understanding purpose, expressing a goal, and determining what measure will tell you whether that goal is achieved or not. Rather than getting hung up on which KPIs are best, leaders would be better served by understanding the purpose of every business system and business process, and measuring the extent to which that system or process achieved its purpose.
4. Unmanaged data
Data input typically starts a value stream and accumulates additional information as it moves along, connecting business processes to deliver the purpose of the value stream. We frequently find the accumulation of inaccurate and insufficient data from the very beginning that continues to be pushed along a value stream causing significant rework, wasted time and effort. In addition, we often find data storage and ownership to be distributed and uncontrolled throughout an organization.
5. Unclear deliverables
At its simplest form, work is the execution of tasks that together deliver specified products and services (deliverables) to a customer (external or internal). We generally find deliverables to be undefined, significantly lacking in clarity, completeness and understanding. The lack of definition in process deliverables is a significant root cause of many workflow problems.
6. Unknown internal customers
Organizations that clearly define customers and understand the value proposition of their products and services to those customers are more likely to create meaningful loyalty. A strong end customer value proposition is delivered through a series of strong internal value propositions delivered by business processes to internal customers that align meet important needs. Identifying internal customers and their needs forms the base for strong business processes, which power the organization toward successful outcomes.
7. Missing performance feedback and review
While some form of monthly review is common in most businesses, it does not typically address performance management beyond the financial statements and a few KPIs. Regular review must take place in every performance improvement effort through daily, weekly, and monthly monitoring. This does not need to be overly complicated, just focused and purposeful. Feedback should be given to every business process within an organization, beginning with external customer feedback and moving back through every business process delivering work within the organization.
Business improvement requires the implementation of new and better ways to yield successful outcomes. Finding what’s wrong in most organizations isn’t that hard to do. Just ask those who do the work what problems they have in executing their assignments. By addressing these 7 common business problems, any business can deliver substantial performance improvements that are sustainable.
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