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March, 2012
Page: 16 Section: Supplements Region: National Circulation: 25,000 Type: Magazines Science / Technology Size: 147.82 sq.cms. Frequency: Monthly Brief: CBA_MAJOR1

IN PRACTICE: PROCESS EFFICIENCY


The importance of effective and efficient process is often underestimated. Many firms - large and small are unintentionally wedded to the way things are done' and carry out tasks without assessing whether its the best way to carry them out. However, taking a fresh look at your business processes can be hugely beneficial. Commonwealth Bank's Kaizen program focuses on helping brokers improve their business processes, creating efficiencies and improving staff morale. Two brokerages that have seen benefits by using the scheme to refine their processes are the Australian Lending and Investment Centre and Smartmove. We mapped out our loan application process, from the point where we first receive the lead right through to post-settlement on a process map," explains Smartmove principal Simon Orbell. "We identified inconsistencies in how each of our five brokers operated, and we worked towards systemising and closing up those inconsistencies." Smartmove also rationalised the role of the support team, so that it would only take care of file from unconditional approval onwards rather than supporting the broker throughout. The firm has seen business efficiency improve markedly; it's recently taken on a sixth broker, and lost two of its support team - and is still able to write the same volumes as before with no difficulty - and has seen an increase in customer satisfaction levels and client referrals. "We've removed inefficiencies that previously we would have solved by just hiring somebody," adds

Orbell. The single biggest benefit is that it's improved the morale of the team. They feel part of a bigger picture without us having to drive it: everyone's engaged and wanting to move towards a common goal." A process innovation that Australian Lending and Investment Centre has introduced is a 'visual management board' - a simple whiteboard showing the progress of active files, colour coded as to status of application. A green file is proceeding well, whereas a red file is a problem file, and blue is approved or settled.
"I can walk out the back and see where every file is from a status point of view. We combine that with a huddle every morning, where we discuss how to move on the 'red dot' files," adds Agent. "It's had a positive impact: our guys are working smarter than they used to; we can track files better. "It's also reduced 'Fat Controller Syndrome': previously, the directors felt like they had to control and check everything, whereas now employees are empowered to take the initiative and do their job."

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