As a QA engineer at Selleo, my responsibilities include quality check, writing testing scenarios as well as monitoring the workflow. I support kick-off meetings in order to discover ambiguities and potential inconsistencies. I also try to help speed-up the communication by updating the flow and introducing improvements within templates and standards.
The goal of this article is to present an algorithm that can aid in pointing out and fixing issues with the current process or workflow. However, sometimes, the hardest part is to recognize that there is a problem at all. And even more, that it can be solved. I aim to propose a solution that could help you in the long-term perspective to reach your goals and improve your process in 6 steps.
Why is process improvement important?
Process improvement helps organizations identify and evaluate the existing problems on a proactive basis. If an organization is not constantly improving, it will likely fall behind in the market since at least some of its competitors will introduce such improvements.
Processes that do not work may lead to unhappy customers, stressed team members, cost increase and wasted resources. On the other hand, process improvement can bring benefits like:
- increased productivity and efficiency - an improvement process can help remove inefficiencies and improve productivity
- better product quality - apart from faster development, process improvements can lead to higher product quality
- improved employee morale - inefficient processes can be discouraging for workers
- competitive advantage - continuous process improvements can help set companies apart. It allows creating a uniqueness that, in return, positively influences the competitive advantage.
6 steps to improving the process
Any type of business process can be further improved. Generally speaking, we can divide processes into formal and informal. The first ones involve anything related to employee or customer safety, finance or legal issues. The latter, are more likely created by individuals or groups within organizations and they might not involve any written instructions. All in all, no matter the process type, they all are designed to streamline the work of individuals and teams, but can have some weaknesses. In order to find out if your project’s workflow has flaws, follow those simple 6 steps:
1. Determine the issue
In order to find the issue, you can answer questions like ‘Is there something driving me crazy in the current workflow?’, ‘Does someone else think the same way?’. Ask around, determine bottlenecks and possible causes of those problems. Once you determine the issues, write them down and move on to the next step
Tip: there is no need to find all of the problems at once. It is easier to focus on one at a time anyway.
2. Recognize possible solutions
Think about how to solve the problem or are there several ways to do so? ‘Is it even possible to fix the issue?’. Take everything into consideration when exploring the possibilities. You can also involve the people in your organization and ask for their input.
3. Classify the solutions
The next step is to classify all the recognized solutions taking into consideration how difficult or costly they might be to implement. You should also think about how time-consuming they are, what are the benefits they will bring to the organization or what are the external and internal limitations to implementing them.
4. If possible, fix the problem yourself
Obviously, refactoring a bad quality code in a 2-year old project may be out of your hands, but adding a step to the already existing workflow sounds doable. Do not hesitate to ask for help, gather all the required resources or necessary guidance.
5. Document it
A great way to document your journey is to write a case study, even if it is super-short. It can prove itself to be useful in the future. Do not forget to add the final outcome - did the solution work?
6. Store and reuse it
Consider building a repository of the case studies collected and make sure to continuously extend it and make it easily accessible to everybody in your organization - only this way it will truly be helpful.
How to implement your idea in the company?
If you want to add something entirely new to your company (such as the abovementioned repository of case studies) you should keep in mind it may not be super easy. However, there are a few steps you can follow to help you along the way.
Note: try not to start from the beginning, but rather from the end, by answering the following questions:
- What is the value I want to achieve in the end? (eg. I want common process problems to be solved efficiently)
- What needs to happen in order to achieve it? (eg. if your idea is to build a repository of case studies your answer can be connected to improving the process on projects so that people can easily access it and find the answer)
- How to convince people to use such a repository? (eg. it needs to be very easy to find a problem in the repo AND the case studies need to be easy to update).
But the biggest question of all is HOW to achieve the recognized requirements? Let me propose two solutions:
- The documentation has to be SUPER ACCESSIBLE (I cannot stress that enough) or it will never be used (and the circle is complete as there is no point in creating documentation that will not be used)
How to make documentation accessible? Make a habit of using it. For a creator, it is an easy task, but how to convince others to do the same? Consider adding a pop-up in your intranet or dashboard saying eg. ‘Struggling with a process-related problem lately? Want to quickly check if there is something in the Case Study repo?’ Such pop-up should not be displayed every day, as you will trigger another, rather unwanted, habit of closing the popup without much thought. Maybe once or twice a month?
- And the second part - updating the repo. It could also be solved in the same way. Just change the text in the popup to eg. ‘Encountered any process-related problems lately? Want to quickly share a 3-sentence case study?’. The word ‘quickly’ may be an essential attention-drawer in both popups.
Process improvements are crucial to the long-term success of an organisation. However, it is important to remember that it is an ongoing action. After you go through the steps of determining its issues and figuring out the solution, remember to document your journey and store it for future reference.
In my experience, it is easier to find flaws in the process with a QA engineer onboard, so if you are looking for one, do not hesitate to contact us. Our skilled QA team is growing and I am sure we can help your business reach its potential.