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Business Process Template

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How is a business process different from other processes? 

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. 


Moving luggage between planes is an example of a business process that has a direct impact on the customers. (Source)

How are business processes structured? 

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. 

  • Finite and Definable: A business process needs to have clear boundaries with a starting and ending point. There should not be any ambiguity about the tasks or operations of a process. You should be able to map out the workflow and distinguish it from other processes. 
  • Embedded in a Larger Structure: A business-process does not stand alone. You cannot describe the entire business as a ‘process’ for example. A process needs to be one part of many processes and systems that form a greater entity. 
  • Productive: A business process needs to produce an outcome that is intended for a recipient. The recipient is often called a customer, but this does not always mean that they are purchasing the product. The product could be a report and the customer is a senior executive.
  • Repeatable: A process should have an organized flow such that it can be repeated many times during the life of the business. 
  • Valuable: The output or product of a process should add value to the business. If it does not, it should be eliminated. If the process is so inefficient that its use of resources negates the value of its product, it needs to be analyzed and improved at a minimum.
  • Flexible: A process should be flexible enough to support changes when needed. It should function in whatever way is most valuable to the business. 

 

How is a business process developed?

There are a few routine steps involved in the creation of a business process. 

  1. Identify and define your needs. What need is this process going to fulfill? How will you evaluate success? Who is the process owner?  
  1. Create a team. You want to include as many different perspectives as possible when creating the details of your process. Include decision-makers and stakeholders, but also the actual people who will need to use or work on the process, including engineers and customers. 
  1. Brainstorm the workflow. With your team, begin to build the individual components and tasks of the process. What steps will be taken? What are the decision-points during the process?  
  1. Map it out. It is helpful to use a visual process when organizing a new process. Usually, this will take the form of a flowchart. 
  1. Test it. Come up with case study scenarios and run them through the process. Use these to revise and improve until the process runs smoothly in all predictable scenarios. 
  1. Implement it. Begin building and implementing the process according to the specifics of your business. 
  1. Monitor it. A very important part of business operations is monitoring the effectiveness of your processes. You can try to do this yourself or potentially hire a process analyst. 

The importance of documentation for business processes

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). 

You should also try to have documented feedback from customers in whatever way possible. This includes evaluations, surveys, but even delivery and usage reports. 

 

It is important to know who was involved in each step of the process in case something goes wrong. (Source)

Activities closely related to business processes

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.

Business Process Reengineering Will Directly Impact Business Performance 

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. 

Business Process Improvement and What Your Business Should Know 

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: 

  • The process improvements have to add value to the company, quality of work, or productivity of staff. Changes that add no value should be eliminated after a test period
  • Human error occurs on a daily basis, elimination of risk is a core principle of process improvement and reengineering. 
  • Customer experience is more important than ever before. The process of adding to the satisfaction/experience of a customer is imperative. A process that leads to an unhappy customer needs a huge modification or total elimination. 

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. 


Process Optimization when Reengineering Strategies/Processes

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:

  • Control optimization helps tune processes where there are control loops. These loops control one aspect of the overall process. Control optimization works to reduce overall waste by a company by making sure control loops are designed appropriately. 
  • Operating procedures usually incorporate technology to automate a specific process. Not only does this eliminate human error, but it also saves time and money. Automation is not required though as a process can be optimized without the use of technology.
  • Equipment optimization is very simple as it helps clarify which pieces of equipment can improve efficiency and which are hitting maximum production levels. 

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.

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