The importance of business performance improvement

- April 2022

It doesn’t matter what type of business you run, implementing even one business performance improvement will benefit you and your business.

When I say I help people document and improve their processes, people often don’t understand what that means. At Parbery, we’ve just launched a new service line, Business Performance Improvement Services, and I’d like to show you how business performance management can help any workplace.

When I say any workplace, I really mean any. Let’s use a circus as an example – after all, sometimes the workplace can feel like a circus. We juggle a multitude of plates in the air, while the element of surprise often appears like a pie in the face and we must figure out how to wipe it off while the show continues. A well-staged circus show requires many parts and if something goes wrong, it can have an immense outcome for all.

With good business performance management, we can ensure the tent is up, the tickets are sold and audience are seated before we razzle and dazzle with our circus acts. A clear process allows our double trapeze act to know when it’s safe to climb the ladder and take that leap towards the bar.

But it can still be a disastrous circus show if those good processes aren’t documented and kept up to date. If our ticket sales attendant suddenly falls ill, we could find ourselves with no one knowing how to sell tickets and no audience to see our circus. Documenting our current processes is important because it:

Helps us identify any gaps with what we do.
Where do we file the receipts once we’ve taken a ticket sale so we can later reconcile the sales?

Confirms the roles and responsibilities for anyone involved in the process
Our operations manager needs to know who to contact when our sales attendant is away.

Ensures all knowledge is written down, specifically in a central, accessible location multiple people can access.
When someone steps in to cover our sales attendant, there are documented processes which will help them be trained up more efficiently.

As processes are documented, we can more clearly see and analyse risks, identify controls that mitigate risk, and assure alignment with legislation, regulations, policy and strategy. We can also more easily identify ways to improve our circus operations, including new additions or changes…like introducing a wheel of death act!

Documenting process

Clear documentation of a processes, targeted at the right level, ensures everyone knows the order of activity, who does what and when the actions need to occur. It also clearly identifies the gaps in a process. Lighting the wheel would be impossible unless we added the right accelerant and the right amount.

Governance and assurance

Ownership, accountability, roles and responsibilities, policies. What is the maximum diameter for a wheel of death? The wheel of death policy needs to be developed with all relevant safety requirements and the person accountable for the process will need to be across the change. It’s wheely important!

Having a good governance model can make the journey less daunting. A governance model will give some guidance on policies or legal requirements we need to follow and the roles and responsibilities of those whom we will engage.

Change, adoption and communication

We’re adding the wheel of death! Eck! How do we add this and create new processes for something we don’t do?! Introducing new circus acts can be a daunting task and writing processes for things we don’t yet do can seem challenging. When we have a change, we need to ensure everyone’s across it, document what’s changed with new processes and update anything that may be affected by the new addition.

Say we previously took payment for tickets via barter transactions in addition to cash and card, but now we’ve decided to stop accepting barter. Our process needs to reflect this change. The change may seem small, but when you have someone new in the role, it can make a big difference if they accept 10 homemade ceramic turtles as payment, compared to receiving payment in cash or card.

We also need to ensure everyone involved with the circus is informed with clear communication about the changes and accessible training for relevant people.

Risk management

Identifying the risks involved with putting on a circus gives you the ability to mitigate them. For example, a trapeze artist needs a team to complete their act but putting the trapeze over the new wheel of death would be a recipe for disaster. The equipment needs to be installed and safety checked. If this isn’t completed, there is a greater risk of injury to the artist.

Risk management is essential for an organisation and risks should be identified, analysed, and evaluated before any mitigation. Let’s go back to our wheel of death. Because we have the process documented to set up the equipment, that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved. Our risks may be safety, reputational or financial. By conducting a risk assessment, we can identify any risks which may be involved within the process.

BPM tool & mapping

Documenting our processes and any other relevant information centrally means everyone can be on the same page and the safety director doesn’t have a different version of documentation for the set up process than the set designer.

For our circus friends, carrying around a heavy set of processes to ensure correct set up and alignment with risk mitigation would be inefficient, so modelling their processes in a system that can be accessed easily on their phone ensures the right amount of accelerant for the duration of the event!

Continuous Improvement

Reviewing and updating the process regularly ensures users are up to date with any changes in regulation or improvements to the process.

If we switch brands of accelerant and only need half as much of the new brand, we need to ensure that is clear in the process so we don’t chargrill the wheel artist.

If legislation changes whereby the wheel of death must be 10m away from the audience, the process needs to be updated to be clear about that requirement.

Regular reviews of our processes ensure they are up to date and any improvements are implemented. This is a vital step to ensure our circus is running as well as it can.

Today we’ve talked about a circus, but the same components of business performance can be used in any business and the Parbery Business Performance Improvement Services team can help make sure your show goes off without a hitch.

Alissa Addicks is a Parbery Senior Consultant with deep experience in business process and customer service improvement. While she’s never been in a circus, Alissa is amazing at juggling competing priorities to help clients improve business outcomes.