Once you have identified the root cause of a bottleneck (see our Part 1 post on this topic), the next and most important step is to resolve it. But you don't want to jump right to hiring a new employee or purchasing a brand new software – instead, it's worth taking the time to fully assess the options before selecting the solution that will remove the bottleneck (without causing a new one).
Some strategies for fixing bottlenecks in your renewal quotes process are to:
Increase Quality of Input
Make sure that everything fed into the bottlenecked system (customer data, leads, templates, etc.) is free from defects. This may include data that resides in spreadsheets, ERP, or CRM, or may relate to employee training and expertise. If faulty input enters into a system, it requires time and resources to track it down and fix it.
Another method to improve the quality of input – and therefore increase speed of the process – is to more fully prepare the materials to be fed through the limited resource. Perhaps your data entry process at the point of a net new sale needs to include a greater number of standardized information requirements from the customer in order to streamline the renewal quotes process.
Improved input quality will help speed the flow of work through the bottleneck.
Remove Activities from the Bottleneck Process
Use automation or other resources to simplify the processes that are causing the bottleneck. Is it truly necessary for the renewals team to download a current version of the vendor's product guide from a portal every time they need to verify data for renewal quotes? Is there a more efficient means to make that information available, such as a software or tool that automatically inputs updated product guides whenever they become available, making them searchable by the entire renewal team?
Sometimes a simple adjustment in the flow of work can dramatically boost productivity. This is where the workflow diagrams we mentioned in the first "bottleneck" post can come in handy.
Assign Your "A" Team
Assign the most productive team members and best technology to critical bottlenecked processes to ensure a process keeps moving.
Purchase more equipment, hire additional staff, or implement a new tool or technology solution to increase throughput. This may be an additional upfront cost, but do the calculations to determine whether the end ROI will be worth it for improved efficiency.
Temporarily Decrease Input
If one part of a process has the potential to produce more output than you ultimately need or can manage, consider whether decreasing the quantity of input could be the right solution. Then, once the bottleneck is removed, input can be increased again as needed.
Accept Partial Delivery
If you're waiting on external sources to deliver something in full before you can begin a bottlenecked process, you may want to encourage them to provide their output in smaller (if incomplete) pieces. Decide the minimum amount needed to take the next step in the workflow process, and create a plan for accepting partial delivery.
When changing any existing process, it's important to consider how the changes may impact the individual team members. Consider the workflow and habits of your team before making drastic changes to business processes. Forcing employees to change an optimal solution can throw them off their game. People are often uncomfortable with change, and some degree of change management processes may be helpful in guiding the team to a successful outcome.
Get more ideas for shaking up your renewal quotes process and to make it more efficient and boost revenues with our newest downloadable eBook, "Shockingly Easy and Successful Renewal Quoting."