Business Process Improvement: Tell-Tale Signs Your Processes Need Work

There are some major tell-tale signs to look out for when improving processes. These trouble spots exist to varying extents in most poorly-performing business processes. The objective of any improvement effort is therefore to minimize these as much as possible to ensure that affected processes perform as efficiently as possible and deliver value to the business.


This occurs when similar inputs or outputs are used in multiple steps within a process. Examine the process to see if it is possible to combine some steps, execute some in parallel or eliminate duplicate steps. An example is a process that involves multiple layers of approval. Are all these approvals necessary?

Overloaded processes

These processes have multiple inputs and outputs throughout the business process diagram. Overloading is a sign that a process is complex and in need of simplification.

Processes with multiple interfaces

Inputs and outputs being passed across different external systems, customers and processes can also give rise to complexity within a process and multiple failure points. Controls should be put in place to monitor the integrity of data as information is passed within the system. There's also a need to assess how these interfaces may be minimised or reduced.

Incomplete processes

Processes should be completely mapped from end to end so that participants fully understand the context in which their work is performed. With incomplete processes, some steps, inputs or outputs are missing. Improvements can only truly begin when you have fully identified what inputs and outputs are needed to fulfill the objectives of a process.

What other trouble spots do you look out for when improving business processes?