Debunking Process Improvement Myths

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Debunking Process Improvement Myths

As a process improvement devotee, I have heard all the myths surrounding the need for improving unproductive business processes. These false beliefs have led management down a path of ineffective, broken, bureaucratic, out of date, overly complicated, labor intensive, time consuming, and irritating processes. Let’s discuss the five most common myths.

Myth #1: The monetary cost of ineffective business processes has very little impact on the organization.

I beg to differ. Ineffective processes cost American businesses billions of dollars every year. Between 40% and 70% of white-collar effort adds no value. Eliminating white-collar errors and complexity can reduce overheads costs by as much as 50 percent.

Myth #2: There isn’t much to gain by improving business processes

Categorically untrue. Beside the dollars saved by reducing waste (Non-value-added activities) and improved customer relationships, business process improvement can have the largest single positive impact on the culture of your organization. Your people are tired of fighting the roadblocks placed in your business processes. They do not like to feel their efforts and hard work is wasted. As you remove the roadblocks morale will improve. Work will become fun and the response time to internal and external customers will be drastically reduced.

Myth #3: Our organization can work around business processes

Sure, your organization can work around your current business processes. You have probably already proven that. But it is a terrible business decision. There is no need for the processes if you continually work around them. Workarounds create a harried environment. Your people are so busy trying to find ways to work around the process, that they do not have time to do their jobs.

Myth #4: We can’t control business processes

False. Not only can business processes be controlled, but they must be controlled. If you are going to stop missing schedules, upsetting customers, and fumbling business opportunities. You need to control business processes just like you control manufacturing processes to ensure high quality results that will guarantee success.

Myth #5: Production processes are more important than business processes

Not true. You are apt to lose customers to the competition because of poor business processes than poor products. Without a good interface between you and your customers, even the very best product will not attract them.

Now that we have blown holes through these myths I hope it has become a little clearer that business processes constitute a significant portion of your organization’s costs. Business process improvement helps to improve and control your operations; improves production flow and enables you to do more with less.

Willie L. Carter is the president of Quantum Associates, Inc, a process improvement consultancy. He helps managers unlock the full promise, speed, and energy of their processes. Carter certifications include, Lean Sensei, ISO 9000 Lead Assessor, Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence. He is an experienced facilitator, coach, and author of the book “Process Improvement for Administrative Departments, The Key to Achieving Internal Customer Satisfaction.” His company helps executives optimize their business processes to minimize their costs, accelerate their cycle time while simultaneously enabling them to do more with less. He can be reached at

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