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Interview with Judith Boers on process optimization at Alumio

Written by
Carla Hetherington
Published on
August 31, 2023

What was your first job?

My first ever job was behind a cash register and in the fitting rooms in Primark, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I guess you could say it’s pretty different from what I am doing at the moment, but I believe it is important to have a job when you are a student as it prepares you for your future in several ways, and it is always nice to earn some money on the side!

What do you do at Alumio?

Well, I am now a Process Optimization Associate, but I was first an Executive Assistant. Being an Executive Assistant helped me get a very good grasp of the company and all the internal processes running through it, as I was present in many meetings and got a first-hand look into crucial business operations. Once I got to know and understand the ins and outs of Alumio, I became interested in process optimization since I thought I could contribute my knowledge to improve the company's internal functioning…And the rest is history!

What are your main job responsibilities?

As my current title suggests, my main goal is to optimize processes, both organizational and department-wide. Although this may seem trivial to some, making sure your operations are functioning correctly is crucial to ensure the company’s overall success. If there is a disconnect between departments or even within a department itself, chances are the operations are not adding any value and are the main cause of wasted time and resources. In other words, I am the “efficiency police” and strive to identify and improve all those inefficient or wasteful internal processes.

What is an inefficient process?

An inefficient process can take on many different shapes and forms, but it is basically a workflow filled with unnecessary actions that waste employees' time and, as a result, company resources. My goal is to identify these patterns and turn them into efficient, well-functioning workflows that have a positive impact throughout the entire organization.

How do you optimize an inefficient process?

Well, I first have to identify which process or processes are in need of improvement. I do this by collecting data through various methods, such as behavior analysis, employee surveys, interviews, process mapping, and overall observation of practices to find patterns and potential bottlenecks. As such, a good part of my daily activities involves documenting all of my research to present it to the relevant parties.

Once I have identified areas for improvement, I analyze them carefully and develop a streamlined process that does not have any of the previous gaps, redundancies, or time-consuming tasks that were hindering efficiency. Afterward, I discuss my findings with department heads and implement them, making sure to keep an eye on them to ensure they continue to run smoothly.

I think it’s important to realize that the task of optimizing processes is not a once-off thing but a continual effort, and as the organization evolves, it is vital to keep tracking and improving processes since efficient processes can become inefficient with time.

Additionally, while some processes may work well on their own, they may not be working properly in the bigger picture, so it is always useful to consider the chain of actions they are linked to and the effects changing one process will have on a larger scale, i.e., on other departments.

What processes have you optimized so far within the company?

When I took on the role of Process Optimization Associate, I was mainly concerned with sales processes and seeing how I could improve them. As it happens in many departments, each individual has their own way of doing things and achieving success. This is linked to the fact that different Account Executives are catering to different regions and markets, so their strategies and methodology will likely be tailored to their own lead base. However, each salesperson followed very different steps at different stages of the sales process, and this stood out as a potentially inefficient way of working.

In view of this, I came up with a clearer structure that could be somewhat modified at each salesperson’s discretion but that would remain efficient to its core and would unify our sales strategy across the entire department. Regardless of whether you have your own way of doing things, process automation is always the key to working more efficiently!

What other processes do you think need to be optimized?

As is the case with any company, I believe there is still much work to be done in regard to process optimization. As mentioned earlier, processes evolve hand-in-hand with a company and must be regularly adjusted to suit the organization’s level of maturity and complexity. As a company grows, more processes are formed, which automatically increases the risk of having redundant and outdated ones.

Being a small company, it is relatively easy to have a clear overview of our processes and document them. However, if we keep growing at the rate we have been growing for the past couple of years, there are many emerging processes on the horizon that will need to be streamlined and many existing ones that will need to be updated. Transitioning from a start-up to a scale-up is very exciting, but we must keep our processes in check if we want to continue operating smoothly. The main focus now is to prepare for what the future holds and to make sure we don’t stand in the way of our own growth.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I believe the most rewarding aspect of my job is knowing that I can make a difference and contribute to our company’s optimal functioning. Finding those processes that can be improved is very rewarding, and it keeps me motivated every day. Even the smallest adjustments in our processes can have a big impact on our operations, so we should take every chance we get to enhance our performance.

What advice would you give to someone interested in the process optimization field?

Although mapping out processes in a company may seem like a huge undertaking, especially in a big company, you should always keep in mind that it is a question of trial and error. The important thing is to establish a strong foundation for the organization’s main processes and take it step-by-step from there. You may not get everything right the first time, but as the motto of process optimization goes, “There is always room for improvement!”

How do you feel about your journey at Alumio so far?

I think my journey at Alumio has been very interesting, and I really appreciate being able to familiarize myself with different departments and responsibilities. I think smaller companies like ours have this great advantage that employees can grow with the company and discover the perfect role for them. I really like the flexibility of Alumio when it comes to job roles, and I feel very lucky to have been granted the freedom and trust of being able to grow into my ideal role and bring the maximum value to the company together with my colleagues.

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