5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Process Improvement Projects

Shot of businesspeople having a meeting in a boardroom

Process improvement means change to any organization and tends to be met with some level of resistance. Because change is not necessarily easy, process improvement projects don’t always move forward like they should. With the constant change in the banking landscape, particularly with technology, it is critical that process improvement projects remain a priority and gain momentum.

Jen Megee, PRI Director of Process Improvement, says there are five common pitfalls to watch out for in process improvement projects.

Failing to leverage your people.

Successful process improvement projects start at the top, Megee said. Executive management must lead through the changes and be vocally supportive of process improvement initiatives. Leadership should allow the team at the level below to have a voice in the process and take opportunities to lead others.

In addition, a common mistake when making changes throughout an organization is failing to engage all key stakeholders. When stakeholders who have valuable knowledge about how things really work at the FI are absent in the process, they often don’t buy in and do not readily adopt the recommended changes. As an example, if you’re driving change in the new deposit account opening process, don’t forget to include input from CSRs, universal bankers, and deposit operations.

“Gaining insight from people close to the process helps everyone understand the problem and the process accurately. This makes the root cause more easily identifiable and ensures the right solutions are implemented.” – Forbes

Lack of focus in the strategic/business plans.

Times are changing and keeping up with the technological advancements taking place in the industry is a must. To help ensure this happens, process improvement must be part of the strategic and business plans for financial institutions. They should include the latest trends in the industry, such as automation and artificial intelligence.

 “In the past, the strategic and business plans were heavily focused on income and expenses but failed to address the value of more efficient processes and the employee and customer experience,” Megee said. “These guiding documents must keep the customer top of mind, and leadership should drive this idea throughout the organization.”

Failure to communicate. 

Having a solid communication plan in place is critical to the success of every process improvement project. Remember that complaints are nearly always about under-communication, not over-communication!

“Lack of communication is a topic that comes up in nearly every project PRI completes,” Megee said. “When employees don’t feel like they know what’s going on, why changes are taking place, the timelines for changes or progress being made, they are more disengaged. This can lead to process improvement projects stalling out.”

Topics that may be addressed in communication channels include: 

  • What are the changes?
  •  Why are we making the changes?
  • What is the progress?
    • No key driver for accountability
    • Milestone recognition
  •  What are the timelines?
  • What are the results from the changes (how does it impact me, when do we have to get this done?) 

Poor data/research to support the process change. 

Data is king, and financial institutions need greater ability to analyze the data at their fingertips to make better decisions, Megee said. 

According to the article What are Some of the Common Challenges and Pitfalls of Business Process Improvement Initiatives, “Data is essential for any BPI initiative as it helps to understand the current state of the processes, identify root causes of problems, measure the performance and impact of improvement actions, and monitor results and feedback. Data collection and analysis should be done properly to avoid inaccurate, incomplete, or irrelevant information that could damage the validity and credibility of the BPI project.”

Data should be used to make educated decisions whether in client interactions or how to enhance a process. Using client data and industry best practices, PRI provides concrete reasons for change.

Ignoring technology advancements.

The technological landscape in banking is changing at a rapid pace. Automation tools and artificial intelligence are redefining how financial institutions interact with their clients and handle back-office operations. The use of technology and its effect on the FI should be considered in the following areas:

  • Current system utilization
  • Automation tools
  • Artificial intelligence 

“Staying current on the trends, developing a plan based on those trends and taking action are imperative or your FI will be left behind,” Megee said.  

Avoiding these five major pitfalls when tackling organizational process improvement will give your initiatives a better chance of success and make implementation smoother and more effective. A smoother process means the FI can begin enjoying the benefits of improved profits as soon as possible.  


What are Some of the Common Challenges and Pitfalls of Business Process Improvement Initiatives? – LinkedIn.com 

Three Critical Reasons Process Improvement Fails – Forbes  

Room for Improvement: Analyzing Banking Data and Putting it to Good Use – bai.org 

Profit Resources specializes in identifying profitability improvement areas for financial institutions through revenue growth, cost control, streamlining processes, and effective use of technology. Contact us to learn more about our personalized approach to propel growth and improve profitability.

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