How process underpins business growth

By Andy Skinner, AMS Business Consultants
Process sounds boring. Clunky and untrendy in a world full of buzzwords. But why is a word so crucial to business success and often an afterthought until disaster strikes?
Published in Suffolk Director Magazine Summer | Autumn 2023
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Implementing Continuous Improvement: AMS Business Consultants

I work with businesses to explain its importance. The size of the clients ranges from single person  businesses to those with 100-plus employees.

People think about processes as being system related or automation. Most businesses I see start with a system solution and define their processes around IT. They would be far better placed to define the processes required and ensure the IT supports those processes.

I often refer to a business as a house of quality. The foundations being the core business behaviours, the pillars or walls are the functional departments, and the roof being supported is the customer output. Everything is underpinned by solid processes – the inputs needed to deliver the required outcome across all functional areas.

If you have 50 staff members all doing their own thing, it’s no surprise if all components produced the output is different. Everyone needs a clear understanding of the processes, standard operating procedures, and, equally importantly, visibility of process performance.

Understand your audience

Whether visual management is graphical, or a traffic light system, depends on the appropriate audience and the process or nature of the business, but what is important is that it’s clearly visible and understood.

If you see differences in process performance, isn’t it crucial to understand why and analyse it so that the business benefits from increased productivity?  Having the correct governance and process in place enables a business to truly see the power continuous improvement can bring.

That’s how businesses utilising Lean (the elimination of waste) and the Six Sigma methodologies of process management, improvement and design can harness benefits.

Not many companies combine the two, but eliminating waste and ensuring your processes perform consistently and optimally is a business utopia. It’s important to measure outputs against customer-centric benchmarks. It is too easy for companies to focus just on what they can easily measure, such as turnover, and not on measures which enable them to truly understand their process performance and how they are meeting customer needs and expectations. Both should be understood.

I would encourage any business to continually review and assess their processes. This will inform the business and identify areas for improvement. Moreover, it will save you money in the long term, and avoid those pillars crashing down.

How process underpins business growth 1

Andy Skinner is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and founder of AMS Business Consultants

T: 07547 489448
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