Partners in Business Excellence, LLC

Improving efficiency in business processes

How Most Businesses Handle Process Management and Why it Fails

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process management Frankenstein

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I recently helped a company who was struggling with inventory management. The General Manager had a white board full of problems, each representing a hole, and she didn’t know how to fill those holes. She kept trying different processes, but each attempt led to a new leak in the pipeline. Employees were becoming confused and frustrated because it seemed that things kept changing. 

Does this sound familiar? Sadly, this is how most businesses handle process management.

This trial-and-error approach to fixing a problem is something I see all the time. It is what I call a “Frankenstein” process. This activity consists of holding parts of a process together with temporary fixes (Band-Aids) that really only stop the heaviest bleeding. Eventually, all the bandages fall off and I get a phone call to help. 

What do I do in regards to process management that is so different than what management has already done? A few things. 

First, I’m objective. I see situations from the outside and can ask the questions that those internally can’t or won’t. For example, if a company is having space constraints and the owner has his yacht parked in the warehouse that would better be used as a production floor, I can point that out without fear of losing my job. 

Second, I’m specialized. Those working in their respective fields are knowledgeable about their job. Whether that’s operations, HR, sales, or whatever. My specialty and training is in Lean process management. I have unique skills, training and tools that help me hone in on the specific task at hand. This means that I am focused on solving any issues of inefficiency. 

Third, I have the time. Just as these workers have skills in their own area of expertise, they also have the bulk of their working hours full with, well, work. As a consultant and Lean Sensei, I am able to devote specific hours to work on solving a problem at a deeper level. I don’t look for areas to smack on a fix, but rather I do diagnostics for the underlying cause of the problem symptom. 

A doctor would never do a surgery without knowing what they were going in for, but in business I see this happen very often. I slow things down and get to the root. From there, we build a process with buy-in so it sticks, build feedback loops to ensure they are working, and put in place strategies for continuous improvement to prevent the process from coming out of remission. 


If you are ready to tackle the Frankensteins in your business, we can help. As a lean sensei and lean management consultant, we provide a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them. If you are ready for true process management, let’s talk.

Contact me today to learn more. Together, we will create a continuous improvement culture and healthier bottom line. 

Business Process Modeling for Improved Results

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business process modeling

Psychologist Howard Gardener wrote in his book “Frames of Mind” about 9 types of intelligence. The theory showed us that people can excel in certain areas more than others, and that intelligence isn’t limited to just ‘book smarts’, science, or math. 

This is exciting news because it frees those of us who may not have been good in a particular subject in school from feeling generally stupid. We can now focus on the areas of intelligence where we do excel, and find others to support us in those we aren’t as strong. 

For some, processes come easily, while others over generalize them and then wonder what isn’t working. Often what I find is that people become blind to challenges or problems because they lack perspective. 

How Business Process Modeling Improves Results 

Business Process Modeling helps to overcome this blindness and can further utilize a variety of intelligence in order to improve outcomes. Let me offer an example: 

ABC Manufacturing wants to hire workers who will perform one of five tasks. They need to know their own roles, but also how it fits into the bigger picture. They also need to perform it to a required standard and consistency. 

Using a Business Process Modeling strategy, each position can be mapped in a way to allow every worker to be trained to meet the performance goals and expectations, breaking it down in ways that every person can understand to be set up for success. It also allows each worker to see how the flow of work matters to the whole. 

Furthermore, it helps everyone see how or why bottlenecks can occur and how to adjust for these possibilities if they arise. It gives management to front line the opportunity to discover holes that can lead to waste in time, talent, and materials, and make proactive changes towards greater efficiency. 

My Intelligence is Business Process Improvement

My intelligence, as a business consulting firm specializing in Lean, is in logical-mathematical and spatial understanding. I use tools such as business process modeling to help unearth areas of waste and inefficiency and adjust them for long-lasting and continuous improvement. 

We implement change that positively impacts the bottom line of companies that hire and train, provide a consistent product or service, and who are looking to improve efficiency, production and outcomes. We do this with a number of tools, including business process modeling. 


PBEX, LLC provides a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them. Contact us today to learn more about how a lean consultant can help you, and to schedule your organizational audit with a business process improvement expert. 

Too Much Redundancy and Still Finding Holes? Here’s Why. 

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Today we have so much technology that redundancy seems unnecessary. Scanners, tablets, internet-based forms, automation, applications, integration – these are all designed to streamline systems and reduce redundancy, and yet some companies are still finding they have holes in information, resulting in dead inventory, failed customer service, disorganization, and usually frustration. 

How is this possible when technology is in place? How can things still fall through the cracks?

Often the answer is that the technology didn’t solve the root problem – it only created a temporary “band-aid” fix. Let me tell you a story. 

The Manufacturing Company with Bottlenecks 

I was called into a manufacturing company as a Lean Consultant to help with a problem in Accounts Receivable. They weren’t collecting money fast enough, and it was causing delays with purchasing, cash flow and on-time delivery. A fresh and objective set of eyes is usually able to ask the hard questions, as well as the obvious ones no one else is asking. 

In this particular company, there was a lot of finger pointing, and solutions were elusive because the more they searched, they just did more finger pointing elsewhere. In this game of “not me”, things weren’t getting done. Everyone was entering information, and because of this, the company didn’t understand how things were still bottlenecking and being delayed. Surely with their redundancy and technology, this shouldn’t be happening – right? 

The Broken Process – Redundancy and Technology

Sales people made sales, entered in the customer information, and passed them off to the Design department. Sales would then go find the next sale. 

As part of their process, A/R would bill 50% up front, many times missing the proper information to send and invoice, in which case they would call the customer and gather the information and enter it. This delay would bottleneck the process and hurt cash flow. Sometimes this bottleneck impacted design, installation, fabrication and purchasing. 

Once Design received the work order, they would review the sale and start the design process. Sometimes, the Design team needed more information that nobody had, so they would stop the process until they could gather the required information from the customer, delaying the process yet again. Once the design was created, Purchasing took over. 

Purchasing would then take the work order information and procure the materials needed for the end product. Sometimes, purchasing needed to swap out materials, and this would cause a delay due to needed customer approvals and changes to billing. Once everything was ok, Fabrication could begin. 

Fabrication created the product… as long as they had everything they needed. When they didn’t, someone, somewhere was put in charge of making adjustments and finding answers. 

Installation would take the end product and get it to the customer, mostly on time, but not always. When they didn’t, their reputation suffered. It sometimes created cancelled orders, resulting in scrap and wasted labor.  

This happened for a long time. 

Technology Didn’t Fail, the Process Did

The technology that was put into place created redundancy (everyone entering information) rather than solutions. The more people who “touch” the project, the more possibility there will be errors. In this company, everyone touched the same information, and built on it, wasting time. 

When I was able to see the entire process, from start to finish, and get feedback from every department, we were able to create a process that included a client checklist the salesperson could complete at step one that would collect all the information every department needed in order to be successful. 

We also looked at other potential and actual bottlenecks in the production process and created solutions that would keep things moving forward. This reduced frustration to employees and improved customer satisfaction levels. It also allowed the company to revamp some of their automated systems to better support the overall process, rather than just chunks of the process. Technology now has reduced redundancy to create a more streamlined and efficient process that yields higher production, increased revenue, and more profitability. 


As Lean Consultants, PBEX, LLC provides a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them – including ineffective technology and redundancy. Contact us today to learn more about lean business management and to schedule your review with a process improvement expert. 


Why Automation and Business Process Improvement Must Go Hand in Hand

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Automation is a hot topic in today’s business world. Computerized solutions, mechanized systems, automated processes, auto-generated responses… these are the ways many industries, from banks to fast food to manufacturers, are looking to create a more consistent and efficient customer experience. Many companies are turning to BPM or Business Process Management programs, coaches, software and more to help them implement these automation practices. Some have done so, only to find the solution actually created more problems. Why did this happen?

In my experience, automation is put into place almost in a knee-jerk way for management to try to solve a problem they don’t quite understand. It becomes a ‘band-aid’ fix rather than the holistic approach it should be. The truth is that business process improvement and automation need to be like a hand in a glove, otherwise, it becomes just another failed attempt at efficiency and a short lived “Frankenstein” process.

The Goal of Automation

The main goal of automation is to produce better outcomes through a consistent, reliable end product. Often, this is for the benefit of the end user, or client. When a process works for the company, but not the customer, it ultimately will negatively impact the organization. Automation should enhance the customer experience, not only serve the organization. Here’s an example:

Bob finds the website of a widget he is interested in. He sends an email to the company asking a question about specs to make sure it fits his needs. He gets an auto response that the company has received his email. Within 4 hours, the company chat-bot responds to his email with an automated drip campaign that tells him to buy the widget, yet his original question remains unanswered.

This process appears to be customer responsive, but it really just buys the company time and doesn’t offer value to Bob. Meanwhile, Bob is likely to have shopped around, and maybe even make a purchase with a company who responded more promptly to his question.

Automation should be customer-focused and create real value.

The Role of an Automation Consultant

As a Lean Consultant, I work with companies who want to implement strategies that create true efficiency and add value to their clients, staff and/or vendors. By looking for trouble spots, holes and current processes, we can determine where efficiency is working well and where it could be tightened up. From there, we look at how automation can be implemented and the steps required to achieve the end results in a long lasting and effective way.

It is slowing down and taking a comprehensive look at all the steps and processes to make sure everything is a smooth and logical fit with the business and clients it is designed to serve. Not a one-and-done or quick fix, automation should be a robust tool that works with all the cogs of business to make it a truly holistic fix rather than a band-aid one.


PBEX, LLC provides a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them. Contact us today to learn more about lean business management and to schedule your review with a process improvement and automation expert.

Good Leaders Don’t Fix Problems, They Solve Them

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problem solving solution

One morning, while leaving the house for work I noticed that the driver’s side front tire on my car was low and unsafe to drive. So, I turned on the air compressor in the garage and waited for it to fill up with air, then proceeded to go to work. To my surprise the next morning the tire was once again low on air. I followed the same process and went to work.

The following morning, while again waiting for the air compressor to fill with air, I used Lean principles to analyze the situation. That evening I put the air compressor on a timer so I didn’t have to wait the next morning while filling the tire. I improved the process, making it more efficient by saving myself time. Or had I?

Problem Solving with Lean Methodology

There is a quote by Peter Drucker that says:

Nothing is more useless as doing something efficient which should not be done at all

I think that everyone knows what I should have done – figure out why the tire was losing air and get it fixed. It may seem obvious, and yet we do this all the time in business. Instead of spending the time to dive into problem solving, we just keep putting a band-aid on it. We believe it just takes too much time to find the root cause and develop a solution that prevents the problem from resurfacing. So, we keep ourselves stuck in a cycle where the problem keeps happening again and again while we overlook it, or create an inefficient work-around.

How many times would I fill the tire before it became greater than the time it would take to have the tire fixed? Truly it is clear to the objective observer that the solution was temporary. Very temporary.

If you were to ask your employees what their biggest issues in their workplace is, they will likely tell you that it’s the same problems not being dealt with, over, and over, and over again. I could bring up several quotes here, like this definition of insanity, but it comes down to doing what is right, not what is easy.

We as leaders have to provide those we work with the best opportunity for success, and that requires us to not just fix problems, but to solve them so that they never come back.

Don’t improve a process which shouldn’t be done in the first place.

PBEX, LLC can provide training on root cause analysis and problem solving to provide the means to prevent problems from reoccurring. Contact us today to learn more about lean business management and to schedule your review with a process improvement expert.

Dealing with a Frankenstein Business Process? What It Is and How to Fix It

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I have the privilege of working with forward thinking businesses. These businesses know something isn’t quite right, but they can’t always put their finger on it. I’m called in and using a variety of techniques, discover and correct workflow holes and implement process improvement.

Birth of a Process

The first time that a series of steps are performed to complete a task, a process has been born. I use the word “born”, instead of developed, as rarely are processes designed. A business process exists because someone saw the need for something to get done. All of our daily activities are conducted through processes, some are good and some are poor. We recognize the poor processes typically through things that frustrate us. For example, standing in line for hours waiting for a representative to take five minutes of their time to explain the many pages of forms required to fill out. Poor processes can be the state they are in due to something I call a Frankenstein Business Process.

Typical Development of a Business Process

Most processes change many times. They may change in response to changes in technology, changes in products or services and/or changes in customer requirements.  Most often, however, a business process changes for various other reasons, not always in a way best for a business.

One of my responsibilities when working with a business is to ask why they do things the way they do. The typical response is that no one knows why and that it is how they have always done it. One business I was called into found themselves in a state of panic and urgency because the company they relied on for their envelopes had gone out of business. It was an important part of their workflow and they weren’t sure how to manage the change.

It turned out that the specialty envelopes were ordered once because the standard ones were not available, and they continued to order believing there was a requirement for them when there really wasn’t. On the surface, this may seem to be a small issue, but it really created a great deal of problems as a new vendor couldn’t be identified and it was effecting their production to not have this particular and critical supply.

In this case it was envelopes, but in another scenario, it could be a change in adhesive, for example, that effects the final product output. This, in turn could also affect price, skills needed, equipment changes and more.

The Frankenstein Process

Over time, business processes will naturally change. We hire new employees with a mix of education and experiences who change the processes to try to make them better, or in response to poor performance of the business. These changes become a “Frankenstein” process, that is, steps have been added or removed without really looking at how the process works overall. Processes like these are ingrained with wasteful, frustrating and unproductive steps that end up costing a business money, or worse yet, employees or customers.

I believe it doesn’t matter how great your product or service is, your business is only as good as its processes.

Innovation’s Opposite

The biggest curse to innovation is that of “We’ve always done it that way”. When we really look at the need, regardless of how things were done before and independent of the fixes that were put into place, we can discover waste and inefficiencies and replace them with new, improved processes that are long-lasting, rather than quick, Frankenstein fixes that eventually fail.

Contact me today to learn more about how I help businesses to simplify and improve their business process making them easier to understand, perform and manage. Together, we will create a continuous improvement culture and healthier bottom line.