What is Process Improvement? Definitions and Best Practices

How is your business doing? Could you do better? If your answer is no, think again.

All companies, from start-up to enterprise level have the potential to do better. Even if your metrics are booming, you’re operating smoothly and your sales pipeline is healthy, there is always room to improve.

Going the extra mile and fostering a culture of continuous improvement will empower you to gain a competitive edge, save costs, and increase employee and customer satisfaction.

What is Process Improvement? 

Forbes defines process improvement as a methodology that helps you take in and evaluate feedback about your business processes to ensure continual improvement. The concept is to always improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business strategy, to help identify potential issues so you can rectify them. 

In short, continual process improvement is a key strategy to highlight inefficiencies and unlock the potential for your organization to do better and achieve more.

What is Process Improvement in Business? 

Many organizations have digitalized their processes using no code or low code Digital Process Automation (DPA) tools. This alone leads to significant savings and rapid ROI, but business process improvement will take your outcomes to the next level. As its name implies, it is the idea of improving and optimizing existing business processes to achieve operational efficiency.

The Importance of Process Improvement 

Process improvement is integral to business success. It’s the foundation that your organization operates on, and it is essential to harness it to continuously improve, build, and achieve competitive advantage. For your organization to achieve operational efficiency, it is vital for business leaders to accurately, and frequently assess areas for improvement and drive widespread Business Process Automation (BPA). 

Benefits of Process Improvement 

There are a number of benefits of prioritizing strategic process improvement in your business plan. Forrester highlights a rise in the adoption of process technologies for process intelligence strategies.

They identify that 46% of organizations are proactive in their process improvements, frequent process assessments, and optimization initiatives. Improvements can be made in all industries, whether it's construction, healthcare, finance, or another, there are always benefits to be seen.

Some of the Benefits of Process Improvement Are… 

What is Process Improvement Definitions and Best Practices1. Productivity

FlowForma Customer Downer New Zealand recently automated their manual business processes with FlowForma Process Automation. With wide adoption throughout the organization, Downers employees have boosted productivity levels and time-savings.

To date, Downer has streamlined processes and saved over 3,350 hours. Cameron Hyndman, National Digital Engineering Lead at Downer highlights this, by saying: “Everyone is working smarter consistently, so the quality of documentation has been enhanced considerably, which was much needed.” 

What is Process Improvement Definitions and Best Practices

2. Employee and Customer Satisfaction

Improving your processes can be beneficial to both employee and customer satisfaction. Employees can focus on their jobs rather than searching endlessly for documents and manually entering data.

Similarly, a customer-focused approach will position your organization ahead of the curve if you are continuously asking how to identify continuous improvement opportunities.

To date, Downer has streamlined processes and saved over 3,350 hours. Cameron Hyndman, National Digital Engineering Lead at Downer highlights this, by saying: “Everyone is working smarter consistently, so the quality of documentation has been enhanced considerably, which was much needed.” 

What is Process Improvement Definitions and Best Practices

3. Agility

Automated processes are delivered far quicker than manual processes. There are features to monitor and refine the processes when resource changes or external factors necessitate change. 


What is Process Improvement Definitions and Best Practices

4. Visibility

When a user is presented with a full view of the process, its current status, future steps, and history, process performance can be compared to benchmarks, with bottlenecks easily identified and investigated. 

What is Process Improvement? Definitions and Best Practices

5. Collaborative and Informed Decision-Making

Businesses are harnessing the power of process automation to capture information throughout the process, measuring progress and reporting on the findings. Business leaders can use these analytics to make informed, and faster decisions – backed by the data, of course. 

Process Improvement Best Practices 

At FlowForma, the best approach we recommend for Process Improvement is to make sure you have the right tool for your organization. Selecting a Digital Process Automation (DPA) tool can be difficult, there are many choices. There are certain things you must bear in mind while identifying the best fit for your company and team members. 

  • List your objectives and desired outcomes.

  • Use a checklist to identify your ideal Digital Process Automation tool – here’s a free checklist crafted by our Experts.
  • Identify what process(es) you wish to improve... Ask yourself: what are the process improvements my organization can make now to maximize operational efficiency? Typically there will be at least one constraint for efficiency in all processes.

  • Get expert guidance to ensure business success. 

Process Improvement Methodologies

There are many process improvement methods and methodologies for assessing your processes for areas of improvement. The most common process improvement methodologies are the DMAIC Methodology and the Kaizen Methodology.

The DMAIC Methodology: 

PMI recommends this process improvement methodology using the acronym DMAIC. The DMAIC steps are as follows: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. 

1. Define

Identify why it is relevant for the Customer and the Business to improve this process. Set up a meeting with all stakeholders and analyze the current process in detail. 

2. Measure

Determine the metrics by which you will assess the process's success. This will give you a clear and concise area to focus on. 

3. Analyze

Pinpoint the root cause of the problem within your existing processes. At FlowForma, our Customers use FlowForma Analytics to access real-time dashboards that highlight bottlenecks, productivity lags, and any gaps in the process. 

What is Process Improvement? Definitions and Best Practices
A Screenshot from a FlowForma Analytics Dashboard.

4. Improve

It’s time to identify what needs to be changed and the actions you recommend your organization take to ensure that the process is operating in an optimized manner.

5. Control

Set up a plan for success and cover how can the organization maintain the continuous improvement of your processes. This might entail closer monitoring of analytics and dashboards by the process owners.

The Kaizen Methodology: 

Another one of the most popular business improvement methodologies is the Kaizen Methodology, a Japanese business that translates to ‘change for the better’. Its core objective is to make the work environment more efficient across all business units. The Kaizen methodology, in short, promotes the idea of continuous improvement - that a small change now can have a huge impact in the future.

Kaizen is a process improvement methodology that highlights the impact of all employees in ensuring operational efficiencies. Kaizen encourages employees to strive to improve the overall business model – no matter how small the change.

Many leading companies have employed the Kaizen methodology, perhaps most notably Toyota, a leading car manufacturer that employs Kaizen as one of its key values. In their company culture and process improvement strategy, Toyota encourages higher employee engagement in identifying areas of potential continuous improvement and actively making changes in their business plan. 

There are 5 Key Steps Involved in the Kaizen Methodology: 

1. Know Your Customer

Understanding the main users of a process can aid the organization in optimizing your current processes to enhance customer experience. 

2. Let it Flow

This is the idea of improving processes by eliminating waste, whether it is in paper processes, time wasted, or financial waste, it is the concept that everyone in the organization should be thinking about how to reduce waste when completing a task – if something is not efficient, ask yourself ‘why is this? And how can we make it better?’ 

3. Go to Gemba

Gemba literally translates to ‘the real place’. It promotes the idea that the Leadership Team should have visibility over all areas of an organization to achieve total quality management.  

4. Empower People

With the visibility highlighted in step 3 of the Kaizen methodology, the Leadership Team of an organization should set goals for the entire team and help them to achieve these targets.

5. Be Transparent

Data is the strongest way of measuring process success. Performance improvements must be transparent and tracked to determine if the performance initiative was successful. 

Whether your organization employs the DMAIC, the Kaizen methodology, or other improvement methodologies. The principles for creating a process improvement plan and making continuous improvements remain the same: 

  • Assess the Improvement Methodologies and find what works for your organization

  • Evaluate your existing processes, and highlight any process problems

  • Identify areas for continuous improvement in a simple process to begin with

  • Make impactful changes 

  • Review the results and performance metrics

  • Ensure operational efficiency within your organization 

With a no code DPA tool like FlowForma Process Automation, all employees (not just IT) will be able to make an impact on your business processes. Start your 14-day free trial to kick-start process improvement initiatives throughout your entire company. 

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Examples of Process Improvement 

Every day our customers amaze us with their stories of continuous process improvement initiatives. I’ve picked out two examples below to highlight their successes and get your mind reeling on how to identify business process management improvement opportunities in your organization. 

Success Story Spotlight: AcruxKC 

What is Process Improvement? Definitions and Best PracticesA US non-profit organization in Kansas, AcruxKC helps people on low income access basic health services, like emergency dental care and prescriptions.

Registered clients collect their vouchers from 52 sites and choose where to redeem them from 120 vendor locations… you can imagine the complications they had before making these vouchers digital.

Before implementing improvement initiatives, 20% of the vouchers went unused - “That’s thousands of dollars of care and hundreds of people who aren’t getting what they need, so we wanted to automate some reminders to them, and also streamline workflows where we can follow up and get them to use their vouchers,” says Beth Radtke, Executive Director.

Digitalizing the vouchers and creating efficient workflows using FlowForma Process Automation, AcruxKC improved the voucher scheme process to be more accessible to people who might not have money for transportation to pick up and redeem the vouchers or struggle to get time off work. 
Read the full Case Study here 

Success Story Spotlight: Morgan Construction 

What is Process Improvement? Definitions and Best PracticesMorgan Construction’s team relied on a shared Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to manage and track the onboarding progress of employees.

This method was time-consuming, susceptible to human error, and was no longer an efficient tool considering the volume of individuals that were being onboarded at a time.

Morgan Construction improved the onboarding process by using FlowForma Process Automation as a workflow solution that organized the onboarding process, reduced the likelihood of human errors, and allowed for automated, accurate progress reporting - achieving total quality management of the process.

“The digital workflow built with FlowForma has helped bring automation into the recruitment onboarding process, taking what was a giant excel spreadsheet with endless data entry that had outgrown its capabilities and combined it into a process flow that is very intuitive to use.

The business logic built into FlowForma will save time and increase data integrity because the information is only touched once. My team is very excited to have this digital workflow solution in place!” says Carolynne Herron, Director of Corporate at Morgan Construction. 
Read the full Case Study here 

Get inspired with more examples of our customers improving business processes in our case study library here

What is Continuous Process Improvement and its Importance?

Of course, process improvement is advantageous for organizations dealing with issues like an abundance of manual processes, paper trails, decreased productivity, and beyond.

However, it is important to understand that business process improvement is not a one-time fix. It should be an ongoing practice of continuous improvement that reflects the state of the business, its employees, and its customers. 

You may be reading this and thinking ‘All my processes are already automated, is improvement different from automation?’ The answer is yes.

Much like the weather, your processes, and your business goals will change. The purpose and importance of continuous process improvement is to ensure good housekeeping and consistent operational excellence. 

Companies that regularly assess their existing processes for areas of continuous process improvement are better equipped to deal with changes in market demands than those that do not – giving them an instant competitive advantage.

Even if no flaws are identified in your evaluation, you can rest easy knowing your organization is operating on up-to-date requirements for its processes. 

Identifying the Process Improvement Opportunities 

There are many ways to implement continuous improvement of your processes and deliver quick wins to your organization.  

1. Removing Manual Tasks

Removing paper, excel, and emails to streamline processes and ensure productivity and efficiency throughout the organization. 

2. Getting Feedback from Process Users (Internal or External)

Identify the immediate changes required to make your particular process run smoothly. 

3. Monitor Reports and Analytics

Ensure that you catch any issues, or bottlenecks so that you can make the required changes. 

4. Engrain Continuous Improvement into your Business Strategy

Encourage employees to highlight areas of continuous improvement and make the necessary updates to identify opportunities for process improvements to ensure your processes are giving you the best ROI. 


By now, I hope you’re convinced that business process improvements are essential for business success. No matter what stage you are in the digitalization of your processes, there’s always room for improvement.

If your mind is swirling with ideas for improvement, why not chat to an expert to discuss your business needs and flesh out your strategy into an actionable plan. 

What is Process Improvement? Definitions and Best PracticesFlowForma Process Automation is an award-winning, enterprise-class, no code business process automation tool used by over 300,000 businesspeople to rapidly digitalize a wide range of processes. It is an all-in-one tool for forms, workflows, analytics, and document generation.

Increase efficiency and drive business process management in new processes and improved processes in your organization with a free 14-day trial – No Card – No Commitment – No Code. 

Gerard’s recommended reading: Digital Process Automation eBook – A Six Step Guide

Gerard Newman, CTO

Gerard has over 20 years of experience designing and delivering process automation solutions that have allowed businesses to integrate and automate their operations to deliver better customer experiences and improve efficiency. Gerard is focused on ideating new concepts for our product’s roadmap helping businesses to make the complex simple.

Gerard Newman, CTO

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