This guide helps co-op staff improve the efficiency of their operations by making use of a business process improvement methodology. The self-assessment test can help determine which of their business processes can be improved easily and which may require more effort.


Business Process Improvement (BPI) is a systematic approach an organization can use to make significant changes in the way it does business. Cooperatives are beginning to apply this methodology to improve their processes and reduce costs.

Experience has shown that a great deal can be done to improve these processes. One example is the new service order process, which touches virtually every department within a co-op. One co-op BPI expert observed: "It is very common that each functional area lacks understanding of the complete process. As a result, there are too many handoffs and often an attitude of 'it's not my responsibility.' There is usually no clear metric for performance success."

BPI is an entire discipline with a considerable body of literature and numerous software tools available. Co-ops need just the right amount of BPI information carefully focused on their special needs and situations. This information needs to be structured in such a way that co-ops can deploy the BPI methodology themselves or know how and when to seek assistance from a consultant.


This project is designed to provide co-ops with a kit of focused tools and information that they can use to assess and improve the efficiency of their processes. Some of the items that could be included are:

  • Definition of BPI

  • Concise explanation of the steps and principles involved in BPI

  • Discussion of what other parts of the utility industry and other industries are doing with BPI

  • Estimate of the amount of savings and/or efficiency improvements that can be realized via BPI

  • Overall assessment of how efficient co-op processes really are, what can be done to improve them, and which processes should be looked at first

  • Self-assessment test for co-ops to gauge the efficiency of the co-op's processes

  • Discussion of metrics for measuring process efficiency

  • Model process of the new service order process


Readers can use this report to understand the basic methods to begin a process improvement project. The self assessment test will give staff the initial information to help determine if a process improvement project can be done internally or will require the help of a consultant. Co-op staff can transfer the knowledge gained from the examples contained within the tool kit to any process within the co-op.

Audiences Served

CEOs, senior staff, engineering, operations, member services, accounting


Engineering, operations, Business process improvement, BPI, new service orders, work orders, self-assessment