The APQC Blog

Five Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Process Improvement

Many organizations wonder how they can use social media to assist with process improvement initiatives. This article by Adi Gaskell, courtesy of the Process Excellence Network (PEX), offers five suggestions for how to implement these tools.

Many people believe that mobile computing and social media are two technologies that will fundamentally change how organizations operate. These tools will change how employees do their jobs, and they will change how customers interact with businesses. As such, they are technologies that can’t be ignored if we’re going to ensure that our processes are as good as they need to be.

Suffice to say, the list of companies successfully using these technologies to drive process improvement is relatively small. Here are five tips for how to ensure that process improvement makes full use of available technologies.

  1. Make it cultural. Most products or services aren’t contained within a silo; they reach across departments and heavily involve customers and other outside stakeholders. Therefore, for process improvements to work, it must involve employees and other stakeholders.
  2. This isn’t an IT project. Of course, IT will need to be involved as they’re a key part of securing needed information. Good process improvement goes deeper than that, though. By involving everyone inside and outside of the company a robust picture of how processes really work emerges, and this illuminates ways for improvement.
  3. Carpe diem. As Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of the good”. Holding off on making changes until they’re perfect will often result in not getting anything done. Create a flexible system that lets employees and customers constantly improve things—prospects will be much rosier.
  4. Understand informal data. Social media allows a level of interaction with customers not previously seen before, but the stream of unstructured data offers a challenge to IT. Find a way of understanding this data to gain tremendous insight into how to better improve processes.
  5. Work on the ROI. These are tough times and many projects are fighting for funding. For process improvement to be taken seriously, it needs return on investment (ROI) that can be clearly measured. Don’t forget to include the soft benefits: increased customer satisfaction and more efficient employees who need less training.

How are you using social media and new technology to help implement process change? We'd love to hear your insights.