Agile Business Process Improvement

In the world of business, the aim is to stay above the waters of competition and maximize shareholders’ returns as with a host of other endeavors.

In a bid to achieve these and many more business goals, several ideas have been thrown around and implemented including process improvement and re-engineering.

The aim of this article is to provide insight into the perspectives of traditional and Agile business process improvement.

Business Processes

Business processes are the set of activities, tasks, and workflows that are used by an organization to achieve a specific goal or objective.

These processes can be both formal and informal and can be used in a wide range of business areas, including operations, marketing, finance, human resources, and more.

Business processes can be broken down into several categories, including:

  • Management processes: These processes are used to manage the overall direction and strategy of an organization, including processes such as strategic planning, budgeting, and performance management.
  • Operational processes: These processes are used to deliver products or services to customers, including processes such as production, delivery, and customer service.
  • Supporting processes: These processes are used to support the operations and management processes, including human resources, IT, and accounting.

Business processes can be documented in a variety of ways, including flowcharts, diagrams, and written procedures.

Once documented, these processes can be analyzed, optimized, and continuously improved to increase efficiency, quality, and overall performance.

Business Process Improvement

Business processes are an important part of any organization and can have a significant impact on its success or failure.

By identifying, analyzing, and continuously improving its processes, an organization can become more efficient, productive, and competitive, which can help it to achieve its goals and objectives.

Business process improvement is the act of analyzing, identifying, and improving business processes to make them more efficient, effective, and/or streamlined.

The goal of business process improvement is to eliminate waste, reduce errors, improve quality, increase productivity, and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.

The steps in Traditional Business Process Improvement involve:

  • Identify the process: Start by identifying the process you want to improve. This could be a specific task, a department, or the entire organization.
  • Map the process: Once you have identified the process, map it out to gain an understanding of how it works. This includes identifying the inputs, outputs, and steps involved in the process.
  • Analyze the process: Analyze the process to identify any inefficiencies, bottlenecks, or areas for improvement. This could include analyzing data, identifying areas of waste, or soliciting feedback from employees or customers.
  • Develop a process improvement plan: Develop a plan for improving the process, including specific goals, timelines, and metrics for measuring success.
  • • Implement the plan: Implement the plan and monitor progress to ensure that it is meeting the established goals.
  • • Evaluate the process: Evaluate the process regularly to identify any new areas for improvement, and adjust the plan as needed.

Benefits of Business Process Improvement

Business process improvement is an ongoing effort and requires commitment and collaboration from all levels of the organization.

It can involve making changes to technology, systems, policies, and procedures, as well as the way that employees work and interact with each other.

As rigorous as the process may seem, the result is well worth the effort for the following reasons:

1. Improved Efficiency

Improving processes can increase efficiency, reduce waste, and lower costs.

By streamlining processes and eliminating unnecessary steps, businesses can complete tasks more quickly and with fewer resources, which can result in higher productivity and profitability.

2. Improved Quality

Improving processes can lead to better quality products or services, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

By identifying and eliminating errors or defects in a process, businesses can provide higher-quality products or services, which can improve their reputation and competitiveness.

3. Better Collaboration

Improved business processes can help to promote better collaboration between teams and departments, and help to break down silos that may exist within an organization.

4. Increased Customer Satisfaction

Improving processes can help businesses to better meet the needs and expectations of their customers.

By identifying and addressing pain points in a process, businesses can provide a better customer experience, leading to increased customer loyalty and retention.

5. Innovation

Improving processes can create more time and resources for businesses to focus on innovation and new ideas.

By streamlining processes, businesses can free up time and resources to explore new opportunities, create new products or services, or enter new markets.

6. Competitive Advantage

Improving processes can help businesses to stay competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.

By continually refining and improving their processes, businesses can become more agile and better able to respond to changes in the market, industry trends, or customer needs, which can help them to stay ahead of the competition.

From the foregoing, we can conclude that Traditional process improvement typically involves a structured, step-by-step approach to improving a process.

It takes on a linear sequential approach to process improvement where each step is completed before moving on to the next.

It involves mapping the current process, identifying bottlenecks, brainstorming solutions, and testing and implementing changes.

The focus is often on achieving efficiency, reducing waste, and improving quality.

Agile Business Process Improvement

The word Agile seems to connote a different and non-traditional way of doing things.

While this may be true, Agile is much more than a buzzword. It is an umbrella word for methodologies that adopt an iterative, value-driven, responsiveness-to-change mindset.

It’s therefore safe to say that Agile is a way of life, with its values and principles transcending much more than business or project management, to actual day-to-day activities.

All Agile methodologies are based on 4 core principles as outlined below:

  1. Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools.
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  4. Responding to change over following a plan.

Does this then mean that Agile frowns against any form of process?

The answer is given by the concluding part of the Agile Manifesto “while we value the items on the right; more value is given to the items on the left”.

This means that Agile values processes and since the core of Agile is responsiveness to change and value delivery, Agile processes are constantly improved upon.

Agile methodologies have their own set of processes that are used to manage the project’s activities and workflows.

Scrum Framework

Scrum is an Agile methodology that uses a set of predefined events including sprint planning, daily stand-up meetings, sprint reviews, and retrospectives.

Each of these events has its sub-processes. Take the sprint retrospective as an example. The sub-processes include setting the stage, gathering data, generating insight, deciding what to do, and closing the retrospective.

These events and their sub-processes help to ensure that the project team is working together efficiently, progress is being tracked and monitored, and any issues or roadblocks are addressed in a timely manner.


Kanban is an Agile methodology that uses a process of visualizing work, limiting work in progress, and managing workflow to optimize the project’s performance.

The Kanban process involves creating a visual board that displays the project’s tasks and progress and using a set of rules to manage the flow of work through the project’s stages.

Lean Methodology

Lean is an Agile methodology that aims to eliminate waste and increase efficiency. It involves identifying and removing non-value-added steps in a process and continuously improving the process to make it more streamlined and efficient.


Kaizen which is an Agile Methodology is a Japanese term that means continuous improvement.

It involves making small, incremental improvements to a process on an ongoing basis, with the goal of achieving continuous improvement over time.

Overall, Agile methodologies use processes to help manage the project’s activities and workflows and to ensure that the project team is working together effectively and efficiently.

These processes are designed to be flexible and adaptable, allowing the project team to respond quickly to changing requirements and priorities, and to continuously improve the project’s performance over time.

Characteristics of Agile Business Process Improvement

Some key characteristics of Agile business process improvement include:

  • Iterative and incremental approach: The methodology involves breaking down the improvement process into small, iterative steps, with each iteration building on the previous one.
  • Collaboration: Agile business process improvement emphasizes collaboration between team members, stakeholders, and customers to ensure that everyone is working toward a common goal.
  • Flexibility: The methodology recognizes that requirements and priorities can change over time, and allows for flexibility in adapting to these changes.
  • Customer focus: The methodology puts the customer at the center of the process, with a focus on delivering value to them.
  • Continuous improvement: Agile business process improvement is an ongoing process focusing on continuous improvement and refinement.

How to Implement Agile Business Process Improvement

To implement Agile business process improvement, a team typically starts by defining a clear goal and identifying the key stakeholders involved in the process.

They then break down the process into smaller, iterative steps, and work collaboratively to improve each step. T

he team continuously evaluates the process and adapts as needed to ensure that the customer is receiving value and that the process is continuously improving.

Agile process improvement is often more adaptable and responsive to change. The iterative approach allows for continuous feedback and improvement, which can be particularly useful in rapidly changing industries or markets.

However, Agile can sometimes lack structure and may not be as effective for complex or large-scale process improvement efforts as Traditional process improvement.


Overall, both traditional and Agile approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between the two will depend on the specific needs and goals of the business.

It’s also possible to combine elements of both approaches, using traditional methods for some aspects of the improvement effort and Agile methods for others.

Gift Ezeafulukwe (CBAP® PMI-ACP® )
Gift Ezeafulukwe (CBAP® PMI-ACP® )

Business Analyst and Agile delivery professional with a proven track record of facilitating change and process improvement through initiatives and projects of value to stakeholders.

Deeply passionate about identifying opportunities and crafting strategies, business priorities, and objectives to solve business needs, positively impact ROI, and provide future growth opportunities.

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