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What is process optimization?

Lari Numminen

February 15, 2023

In this article we explore the different types of process optimization, the steps for optimizing a process, and the challenges associated with process optimization.

What is process optimization?

Process optimization is the practice of making a process more efficient or effective. It helps organizations reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and increase efficiency and productivity.

The goals of process optimization vary from business to business, but some common goals can include:

  • Eliminating redundancies and overlapping work between teams.
  • Streamlining workflows to increase lead time and customer experience.
  • Improving alignment and communications between teams and business units.
  • Redesigning core processes to improve overall productivity or lower costs

Types and methds of process optimization

There are several different types of process optimization techniques.

  • Process mapping. Process mapping is a method used to visually document an entire process from start to finish. It helps identify areas of improvement and optimize the process.
  • Process mining. Process mining is a technique used to discover, analyze and improve business processes using data mining methods. It can accelerate and automate the data gathering phase of process analysis.
  • DMAIC.The DMAIC method is a way of data-driven optimization flowing from the acronyms (D) define, (M) measure, (A) analyze, (I) improve and (C) control.
  • Value stream mapping. Value stream mapping is the method of creating a graphic representation of the materials, data or information valuable to a project or initative.
  • Kaizen. A method of continuous improvement developed in Japan highlighting how small incremental changes can have a cumulative improvement in performance.
    PDSA. Another optimization method comprising of four stages (P) plan, (D) do, (S) study and (A) act.
  • Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology for improving processes. It helps identify and reduce errors, leading to more efficient processes.
  • Sipoc. A diagram technique outlining the (S) suppliers, (I) inputs, (P) processes, (O) outputs and (C) customers of key processes.
six steps to business process optimization
Six steps to business process optimization

Steps for Optimizing a Process

When optimizing a process in an enterprise organization, there are several steps to follow.

1. Identify goals. The first step is to identify the goals of the process optimization. This will help determine the best way to optimize the process.

2. Analyze current processes. Next, analyze the current processes to identify areas of improvement. This can be done through process mapping or through data analysis.

3. Develop an optimized process. After identifying areas of improvement, create an optimized process based on the goals of the optimization. Make sure to include the necessary automation and technology needed to optimize the process.

4. Test the optimized process. Once the optimized process is developed, test it to ensure that it meets the goals of the process optimization. This will help identify any issues or areas that need to be improved.

5. Implement process optimization. Once you have your desired process improvement validated, it's time to implement the process across your organization. In this phase it may require additional monitoring and measuring to ensure that the optimization maintains desired results.

6. Evaluate and continuously improve. Rarely are process improvements a one-off exercise. In many organizations, you'll expect to see a continous analysis and refinement of core processes to achieve incremental improvement.

Challenges to Process Optimization

While process optimization can lead to improved efficiency and productivity, there are several challenges associated with it.

  • Limited Resources. Process optimization requires resources, such as time and money. If resources are limited, it can be difficult to optimize a process.
  • Reluctance to change. Change management is another challenge when optimizing a process. People are resistant to change, so it’s important to manage the process of change effectively.
  • Leadership. In organizations process optimization requires a dedicated position of leadership to take charge of optimizing business processes.
  • Inadequate training. Process optimization rarely works when the workflows and habits of key employes are changed without sufficient trainining.
  • Unrealistic expectations. With process optimizations, it is not uncommon to have very lofty goals to achieve efficiency but many complex processes can not be improved in one big change.


Process optimization is a set of methods and tools used to make processes more efficient and effective. There are several types of process optimization techniques, including process mapping, process mining, and Six Sigma.

When optimizing a process, it’s important to identify goals, analyze current processes, develop an optimized process, and test the optimized process. Challenges associated with process optimization include limited resources and change management.

Key Takeaways

• Process optimization is a practice used to make processes more efficient and effective.

• There are several types of process optimization techniques, such as process mapping, automation, and Six Sigma.

• Steps for optimizing a process include identifying goals, analyzing current processes, developing an optimized process, and testing the optimized process.

• Challenges to process optimization include limited resources and change management.

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Written by

Lari Numminen

Chief Marketing Fellow