The Power of Business Process Improvement: 10 Simple Steps to Increase Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability


Every business process in every organization can be improved—made better, faster, more efficient, more cost-effective, and more flexible to changing business needs. Business process improvement (BPI) can drive substantial bottom-line increases, ultimately accelerating the revenue cycle.

The Power of Business Process Improvement proves that even sweeping BPI initiatives don’t have to be complex, time-consuming projects. This incredibly practical book, written for the layperson, ...

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The Power of Business Process Improvement: 10 Simple Steps to Increase Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability

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Every business process in every organization can be improved—made better, faster, more efficient, more cost-effective, and more flexible to changing business needs. Business process improvement (BPI) can drive substantial bottom-line increases, ultimately accelerating the revenue cycle.

The Power of Business Process Improvement proves that even sweeping BPI initiatives don’t have to be complex, time-consuming projects. This incredibly practical book, written for the layperson, cuts through lengthy, technical explanations with a 10-step method designed for busy professionals with real-world problems. Starting with simple tools to help the reader develop a process inventory, author Susan Page shows how to:

• Prioritize processes

• Map processes

• Estimate times and costs

• Apply improvement techniques

• Create internal controls

• Develop metrics

• Test new processes and rework them as necessary

• Implement the changes

• Gain recognition

• And more

A far cry from the complicated, theory-laden books on the market, the clear and practical approach in The Power of Business Process Improvement will leave colleagues energized, focused, and well-equipped to take their organization to the next level.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"With The Power of Business Process Improvement to lead the way, business managers will have the power to help their business stay competitive and responsive to customers, as well as nimble and resilient." --The Work Style Magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814414781
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 2/17/2010
  • Pages: 338
  • Sales rank: 481,396
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

SUSAN PAGE is an experienced business process

improvement consultant for the computer, banking, and entertainment

industries.  She has a Master’s degree in Computer Information Systems

and is a graduate of the WOMEN Unlimited LEAD program.  She currently

works for a major entertainment company in Orlando, Florida. 

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Read an Excerpt

C H A P T E R 1

The Roadmap

Learning How to Navigate

Have youu ever had a problem that you know little or nothing

about land on your desk at work? Does the problem make you

feel overwhelmed and uncertain as to where to begin? Challenges

like this usually occur when you already have a full workload,

unrealistic deadlines, and limited resources. What can you

do when you feel lost, like Hansel or Gretel trying to find your

way out of the forest?

Learning to navigate through unfamiliar territory goes a

long way toward easing the burden and can help you feel comfortable

dealing with the unknown. Business process improvement

(BPI) work, the systematic examination and improvement

of administrative processes, can seem scary and overwhelming

because no one teaches this navigation skill in school. But once

you give it some thought, everything is a process, from making

breakfast for yourself in the morning to building the space shuttle.

In both cases, you follow a series of actions or steps to bring

about a result. Making breakfast, no matter how informal, is still

a process. You brew the coffee, cook the eggs, and toast the

bread. If Vince Lombardi had run a business instead of a football

team, we might remember him today for saying that process

isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

The techniques covered in this book help smooth the

path to successful BPI by clearing away the unknowns and delivering

the power of process improvement directly into your

hands. Whether you consider yourself an expert on the subject

or do not see yourself as a process person, you will appreciate

learning how to tackle process improvement work in a bottomline,

straightforward approach. For the inexperienced, The

Power of Business Process Improvement guides you along a

proven, step-by-step approach to a successful result; for the expert,

it becomes a handy A-to-Z reference guide to help you engage

an organization in a process improvement effort.

This guide cuts through the long, confusing, and difficult-

to-comprehend explanations regarding BPI and takes you

directly to the core of what you, the business professional, want

to understand. It describes a pragmatic approach to business

process improvement that I developed over the years and that

anyone can use in real time to solve real problems. The ten simple

steps to increasing the effectiveness, efficiency, and adaptability

of your business processes start with the creation of a

process inventory and end with how to keep a business process

continually delivering value to the business.

If you want to evaluate how your company hires employees,

secures sales, or manufactures a product, examining the underlying

processes helps you better understand how the

business works. Every day we experience challenges with inefficient

or ineffective processes and, after you start thinking of

business processes as the foundation to the business, you begin

to see the power of having a process focus and wonder why you

waited so long to change your perspective.

Bill Gates wrote in his book Business @ the Speed of

Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy (Business Plus,

2000) that ‘‘A rule of thumb is that a lousy process will consume

ten times as many hours as the work itself requires.’’ We have all

seen bureaucracy and red tape continually added to a business

process. Bureaucracy happens not all at once, but incrementally

over time. A business process can easily become bloated, leading

to an ineffective, inefficient, and inflexible process.

Improving business processes enables you to stay competitive

and to increase your responsiveness to your customers,

the productivity of your employees doing the work, and your

company’s return on investment. The expertise to examine and

understand how business processes work sets you apart from

the rest because you have the power to demonstrate the value

that the process delivers, its importance to your company, and

the effect that a single change can produce.

People become interested in process improvement for

any number of reasons. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

• Your customers, clients, or suppliers complain about the

business process.

• You find that your department makes numerous errors and/

or makes the same one again and again.

• You want to understand how your department can improve

its efficiency so that your employees can spend their limited

time on more valuable work.

• You have accepted responsibility for a new business or

department, and you want to understand the work.

• You discovered challenges with the handoffs between


• You want to increase your department’s productivity.

• You noticed duplication of data or tasks in multiple departments.

• You started a new job and want to understand how the

department works.

If you encountered one or more of these experiences,

then BPI can help. It improves your ability to meet your customer’s

needs, helps you eliminate errors, identifies opportunities to

yield a more effective and efficient process, assists you in learning

the end-to-end process for a new part of the business, makes

clear the relationship between departments and the roles and

responsibilities of each, improves your department’s productivity,

and eliminates redundancy.

Working on business processes helps demystify the process

and makes a seemingly complex process less intimidating.

Process improvement work also gives you the chance to engage

a cross-functional team in the work so that everyone can learn

the end-to-end business process, instead of simply focusing on

his or her own piece of the process. You will find that, as you

do the work, few employees understand the end-to-end process.

Employees may understand their own piece, but not how the

entire process works from beginning to end. When a team works

together on improving business processes, the work itself provides

a means for colleagues to talk about common topics, and

the team effort promotes an understanding of the interconnectivity

of their work.

When you focus on a business process, it appears less

threatening to colleagues than focusing on the employees who

do the work. The process of finding challenges and linking those

challenges to the process instead of to a particular employee

leads to easier, less threatening solutions. No one employee or

group of employees has to worry about repercussions.

On the other hand, BPI does affect the entire business

system, including the employees who do the work; the information

technology systems that support the process; the measurements

established to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, and

adaptability of the process; and reward and recognition programs

that exist in a company.

If you still find yourself wondering whether you should

undertake a process improvement effort on one of your processes,

ask yourself four questions. If you answer no to any of

these questions, you should start examining your business processes:

1. Does your process include a high level of customer/client


2. Does every step in your process add value for the customer/


3. Have you established customer- or client-focused metrics

for the business process?

4. Are your employees evaluated on their contribution to the

business process?

Throughout this book, the term customer refers to someone

external to a company who pays money for a product or

service. The term client denotes an internal customer within a


If you work as an internal consultant in your company,

then you probably work with clients. The client’s business processes

should support the company’s business goals, which in

turn should support the paying customer. Remember, in business

process work, the customer is king, and you should always

focus on the customer.

Can You Do It?

Many of the process improvement books on the market

support the myth that business process improvement must be

time-consuming and complex. The Power of Business Process

Improvement shows that nothing is further from the truth. It

presents you with numerous tools and examples that you can

use to make the work simple and yet maintain high standards.

Perhaps you have shied away from process improvement

because it looks like something that only an expert can do. In

reality, you can do this work without having to learn the ins and

outs of quality management or reengineering. This book shares

my own unique approach to BPI, an approach influenced by

both quality and reengineering, that works for me every time. I

have successfully used the approach outlined with every employee

level in different and complex situations. It works. It

works even with people who start out as skeptics.

As you apply the ten simple steps introduced in this chapter0

and covered in depth in the chapters that follow, you will

find yourself adopting several of the quality and reengineering

philosophies because the focus on the customer is at their core,

but you use them in a seamless way that makes the work palatable

to the business.

I geared each step toward ease of use. This book answers

basic questions and elaborates on how to perform each step by

demonstrating its application. It explains topics that no one ever

bothers to tell you about, either because book authors, consultants,

or colleagues assume that you already know about them

or because they do not want you to know the full story, believing

that knowledge is power and wanting to hold onto that power.

The various BPI books on the market remind me of getting a

favorite recipe from a restaurant, but with some key ingredient

missing. This book tells you the whole story and gives you the

power of knowledge.

You will feel comfortable with the formulas that I use

throughout the book because they are the ones commonly used

in business. You do not have to understand complicated statistical

measurements of process capability or know how to use Six

Sigma, Lean, Kaizen, or other quality methods. You have everything

you need right now, so let us begin the journey.

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Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1: The Roadmap: Learning How to Navigate Can You Do It?

The Journey

The Ten Simple Steps to Business Process Improvement

Step 1: Develop the Process Inventory

Step 2: Establish the Foundation

Step 3: Draw the Process Map

Step 4: Estimate Time and Cost

Step 5: Verify the Process Map

Step 6: Apply Improvement Techniques

Step 7: Create Internal Controls, Tools, and Metrics

Step 8: Test and Rework

Step 9: Implement the Change

Step 10: Drive Continuous Improvement

The Executive Summary

Case Study

Chapter Summary

CHAPTER 2: Step 1: Develop the Process Inventory: Identifying and Prioritizing the Process List

The Process Inventory

Process Prioritization

Developing Criteria


Applying Weighting

Chapter Summary: Step 1

Time Estimate

Build the Business Process Inventory

Sponsor Meeting

Establish Categories, Criteria, Scale, Weighting

Complete the Process Prioritization Table

A Second Sponsor Meeting

What You Have Achieved

CHAPTER 3: Step 2: Establish the Foundation: Avoiding Scope Creep

The Eight Sections of the Scope Definition Document

Section 1: Process Name

Section 2: Process Owner

Section 3: Description

Section 4: Scope

Section 5: Process Responsibilities

Section 6: Client and Client Needs

Section 7: Key Stakeholders and Interests

Section 8: Measurements of Success

Chapter Summary: Step 2

Time Estimate

First Project Team Meeting

Sponsor Meeting

What You Have Achieve

CHAPTER 4: Step 3: Draw the Process Map: Flowcharting and Documenting

Process Map Overview

Drawing the Process Map

Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

The Cross-Functional Process Map

Continuing the Work from Meeting to Meeting

Documenting the Process

Chapter Summary: Step 3

Time Estimate

Second Project Team Meeting

Postmeeting Work

Follow-on Project Team Meetings

What You have Achieved

CHAPTER 5: Steps 4–5: Estimate Time and Cost and Verify the Process Map: Introducing the Process and Cycle Time and Gaining Buy-In

Business Process Timing

Process Cost

People Costs

Tool Costs

Overhead Costs

Putting It All Together

Alternative Cuts of the Data

Analyzing the Cost Estimate Columns

Verify the Process Map

Process Workers



Chapter Summary: Steps 4–5

Time Estimate

Project Team Meeting

Postmeeting Work

Sponsor Meeting

Verify the Process Map

Postvalidation Work

What You Have Achieved

CHAPTER 6: Step 6: Apply Improvement Techniques: Challenging Everything

Eliminate Bureaucracy

Value Added

Eliminate Duplication


Reduce Cycle Time


Chapter Summary: Step 6

Time Estimate

Project Team Meeting

Postmeeting Work

What You Have Achieved

CHAPTER 7: Step 7: Create Internal Controls, Tools, and Metrics: Making It Real

Internal Controls


Job Aids

Custom Email Forms

Excel Tools


Chapter Summary: Step 7

Time Estimate

Project Team Meeting

Postmeeting Work

Project Team Meeting

What You Have Achieved


Step 8: Test and Rework: Making Sure It Works

The Five Steps to Testing the Business Process

Step 1: Create the Test Plan

Step 2: Develop the Scenarios

Step 3: Implement the Test Plan

Step 4: Summarize Feedback and Rework

Step 5: Retest

Chapter Summary: Step 8

Time Estimate

Create the Test Plan

Write Test Scenarios

Implement the Test Plan and Rework

What You Have Achieved


Step 9: Implement the Change: Preparing the Organization

The Implementation Plan

Overview of the Three Phases of the Implementation Plan

The Design Phase

The Development Phase

The Implementation Phase

The Four Tracks in the Implementation Phase

Change Management Track (Impact Analysis)

Communications Track (Communication Plan)

Training Track (Training Plan)

Chapter Summary: Step 9

Time Estimate

Develop the Implementation Plan

Develop the Impact Analysis

Develop the Communication Plan

Develop the Training Plan

Gain Sponsor Buy-in

What You Have Achieved

CHAPTER 10: Step 10: Drive Continuous Improvement: Embracing the New Mindset

The Continuous Improvement Cycle





Continuous Improvement Plan

Chapter Summary: Step 10

Time Estimate

Develop the Continuous Improvement Plan and Schedule

Gain Sponsor Buy-in

Test, Assess, Execute

What You Have Achieved

CHAPTER 11: Create the Executive Summary: Getting the Recognition

The Six Sections of the Executive Summary

Section 1: Project Focus

Section 2: Goals

Section 3: Summary

Section 4: Key Findings

Section 5: Deliverables

What You Have Achieved

CHAPTER 12: Case Study: Sharing a Real-World Example


Step 1: Develop the Process Inventory

Step 2: Establish the Foundation

Step 3: Draw the Process Map

Step 4: Estimate Time and Cost

Process Activities and Process Time

Annual Volume

FTE Formula

Employee Cost

Step 5: Verify the Process Map

Step 6: Apply Improvement Techniques


A New Approach

Step 7: Create Internal Controls, Tools, and Metrics

Internal Controls



Step 8: Test and Rework

Step 9: Implement Change

Communication Track

Training Track

Change Management Track

Step 10: Drive Continuous Improvement

Chapter Summary

What You Have Achieved


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  • Posted September 27, 2010

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out

    Finally someone has wrote a book that is very easy to understand and will enhance or develop an individuals skill set as Analyst, Implementation , HR Consultant. Great read very informed. I hope this author comes out with more books and audio books.
    Great work. This is a must for anyone in HR. Thanks

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  • Posted August 16, 2010

    A valuable read for novices and experts!

    Susan Page has done an excellent job in organizing a very complex subject, taking the reader through a step-by-step process to help them master the requisite skills required to efficiently improve a business process. The information contained in this book will not only benefit newcomers to process improvement, but as I have found, those of us intimately familiar with the subject.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2010

    5 Stars!

    If you want a clear, easy-to-understand book on business process improvement, then this is the book for you. The author's approach is very well organized and she tells you the whole story, instead of leaving you adrift as some books do. Her writing style turns a subject that can be viewed as dull into something interesting.

    I highly recommend adding The Power of Business Process Improvement to your book shelf. It is the type of book that you will find yourself referring to again and again.

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  • Posted April 28, 2010

    When you nned to get BPI project started and do not know where to start Pick this!

    I strongly recommend `The Power of Business Process Improvement (10 steps in increase Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability!!

    When you have to get a BPI project underway and you need an easy to comprehend and comprehensive methodology, this is the tool to guide you throughout the journey. Susan Page has a real world in her approach and gives you tools and practical application scenarios to support to drive home the intent of the tool/idea.
    The book is effective enough to pick up and start on a BPI initiative and use this as a step by step tutorial as you work through the process you are targeting.
    Finally, the greatest value may be the post-implementation steps that prepare the process and enterprise to retain the initial investment by guiding the reader/organization on how to maintain the process and for it to remain effective, efficient and adaptable post implementation.

    Doug Lawrence PMP, MSM

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    Posted March 15, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2010

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