In many ways, business processes are no different than other processes. All processes are essentially sets of tasks or activities organized in such a way that they produce a predetermined output. In relation to business, this means that the process is particular to the needs of a business and its customers.
A non-business process might be the process involved in brushing your teeth, for example. In that process, you engage in a set of smaller interrelated activities to accomplish the goal. You get your toothbrush, put toothpaste on it, get it wet, brush your teeth using small circles for 2 minutes. You then rinse your mouth out and put your toothbrush away. That process is not business-related.
An example of a business process is when a shoe company begins selling its products online. There will be many sales processes that they need to revise, and some that they need to create entirely. For instance, there will now be a process by which a customer uses a website to search for, view, and ultimately purchase shoes. Automating processes like this can be a huge overhaul in a company.
Not all business processes are that customer-facing though. In fact, it can be argued that most business processes occur well out of view of customers and contribute to day-to-day operations. These might be processes related to a business’s employees (Human Resources, hiring, payroll, benefits), shipping and receiving, or communication. Ultimately though, all business processes share the overarching goal of improving customer satisfaction and increasing revenue.
Business processes are often categorized by type: core/operational, secondary/supporting, and management. The core/operational processes are the heart of the business and deal most directly with product creation and delivery. The secondary/supporting processes are some of the ones we mentioned earlier, like Human Resources and legal departments. These serve to support the core processes. Management processes are responsible for oversight of business operations.
There is no standard format for a business process. Their complexity depends on how many different pieces are involved, such as employees, or how automated the tasks are. Business processes may also be further divided into subprocesses that together form the larger process. Identification of a process and/or its subprocesses requires careful thought and precision.
Many processes have similar attributes and there is a lot of potential for overlap of tasks. Before modeling, analyzing, or improving a business process you need to have clearly identified the boundaries of that process in relation to other processes. This helps avoid an error.
Identifying a process owner for each process is also helpful and gives responsibility for the process to one specific individual. These individuals can work together to see if any of their processes were inadvertently overlapped during the mapping process.
There are some essential characteristics that must be included in a business process. A business process must be finite and definable, embedded in a larger structure, productive, repeatable, valuable, and flexible. Let’s break down what each of those terms means.
There are a few routine steps involved in the creation of a business process.
We mentioned earlier that regular monitoring and evaluation are critical for the success of a business process. Part of this evaluation relies on reviewing documentation of the process. This might be reports automatically generated or the revision history notes on a certain report.
Whatever the specific documentation that can be involved in a process, make sure it is kept accessible and relevant. Thorough documentation procedures and reporting instruments can make a huge impact on your ability to measure the effectiveness of each of your business processes. It also helps identify any waste, process overlap, or errors (especially computer errors).
When considering a business process, you need to know more than just how to create it. Process creation involves a few steps that warrant additional explanation.
When a business process is mapped out in a visual way, it can be referred to as business process modeling, because a visual model has been created. There are some standard techniques for process modeling, including the use of specific symbols for a workflow or flow chart diagram.
Business process modeling is also used during the business process analysis. If you are experiencing a problem in your business, you may need to analyze certain processes to identify the issue. To do so, you engage in business process analysis and carefully recreate the process model for analysis.
One of the outcomes of process analysis is process improvement. Identifying areas for improvement and then finding and implementing solutions is how a business stays relevant and successful over time.
A well-run business will pay close attention to its business processes. These processes are what power the business and keep customers happy. The processes need to be well-defined, efficient, and clearly documented. If an issue occurs or you wish to make upgrades, the better you understand and can access your process, the easier it will be to improve. Putting in the time upfront to carefully detail these elements will save you a lot of time in the end.
A business rarely will have all of their processes perfected on the first try. Businesses that have been around for decades are constantly looking for ways to improve processes. Business process reengineering is a staple of both thriving and struggling companies attempting to improve. Technology leads to reengineering by automation of processes and improved communication methods across an organization.
Change will come with the resistance of certain employees which requires a steadfast approach to embracing the new process. The goals of the reengineering need to be clear in order to create an actionable plan. Monitoring how the changes impact overall production and quality of work produced is important. The new process should not decrease the overall quality of the product/service delivered to the customer.
Being able to track increased production will be quite easy when reengineering a business process model. Costs decreasing in the process will also increase the overall profitability of the company. Allow for time to pass to gather appropriate data as a process change is not going to produce results in a day or two.
After a thorough process analysis, it comes time to put improvement plans into action. Process improvement can be extremely complicated or a simple fix depending on the issue faced. Even for companies that are excelling the consistent improvement will further their success. Process improvement could incorporate new equipment, improve technology, or eliminate processes/steps totally.
The principles that drive process improvement in business are as follows:
Once the processes to be changed have been identified the monitoring process begins. Keep original goals in mind and make changes to further improve areas that require a modified approach.
Business process optimization is one of the last steps in business process management. The strategies for change have already worked for a business and now it is time to put the finishing touches on the process. A streamlined platform to consolidate communication or a new intuitive project management system being used can optimize various processes. The 3 aspects of process optimization are the following:
Rethinking an entire process could be the answer for certain companies. Enforcing these changes will allow for data to be gathered and allowing processes to be further optimized.