Organizations are comprised of systems that are comprised of processes that are comprised of tasks. Each part is an important component of the whole. The processes themselves dictate how we assemble teams, how we design projects, and how we measure effectiveness. They determine the success or failure of the systems. While the processes themselves will differ for each industry or business, the importance of the processes remains the same.
You must have structure and accountability in all processes for your business. That’s the only way to ensure that things are running as you intend, and it’s the best way to figure out what’s going wrong if things are running poorly.
Routinely analyzing and improving your processes is the best way to stay relevant as an organization and deliver the best possible product to your consumers. This is true for Fortune 500 companies as well as small start-ups or one-man operations.
Process analysis is simply the mapping of a business’s processes. It is used to clearly and definitively represent all of the specific tasks and elements that go into a process so that it can be improved or monitored. It involves taking a close look at all of the elements that makes a system tick and evaluating how well those elements are performing.
Process analysis is a foundational part of any successful business and can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the line. =
Why do you need a formal analysis to improve your processes? If you have an extremely small operation with very few moving parts, maybe you don’t need process analysis. But for most organizations, the fault lines may not be so clear.
Process analysis enables you to identify exactly how your processes work so that you can identify any roadblocks that may arise. If a process breaks down but you don’t fully understand how it works in the first place, how do you expect to correct it? Trial and error? That approach is costly, time-consuming, and often ineffective.
Process analysis also provides a guide for any member of your team. Each new member of the team should not be responsible for learning the intricacies of each process individually; a comprehensive process analysis provides an objective and standard assessment of this information.
A company will likely need to utilize process analysis if it is experiencing loss of some kind. They can review each part and task of a process to find the flaw. But many organizations will use process analysis proactively or as a way to stay ahead of the game. You may wish to incorporate new technology and need to design new processes around it.
If your organization is interested in process analysis, here are some general guidelines to get you started.
You need process analysis for each individual process in your organization. Make sure you have fully operationalized and distinguished each process from the others so that your analysis has a clean structure.
To begin, identify the process that you are looking to work on. You may be aiming to improve a particular system, or you might just be looking to map all processes. Prioritize the ones that you suspect need improvement or the ones that contribute the most to the success of your project.
Next, outline all of the components of your process. What tasks and activities power this process? Who is involved? What supplies are required? Make sure you have all variables clearly defined.
Now start to review the process. What have users been saying? What sources of information do you already have about this process? Are there ways to get more information?
You will want to be very thorough at this stage so that you can collect as much background information as possible. You will be using the information gathered in this step as the basis for your analysis. You may find yourself needing to interview users or other individuals involved in the process in any way.
During this step, you will start to identify all the possible improvements that could be made to the process.
Once you have gathered as much information as you can about the process, you will need to organize it. Review the details and filter for the most important parts. You can now begin mapping the process.
Mapping can be done with a pencil and paper, basic word processing products, or higher-tech software specifically for this activity. Whatever route you take, make sure you have an end-product that makes sense to your team and is easy to understand.
Your map should identify the workflow as well as the key players and resources. It should be a clear visualization of your process. Looking at the process in this way can help you identify areas prone to risk or misstep.
Start by describing how the process works currently. This information will come from the interviews you may have conducted in an earlier step. Know who is responsible for what part of the process, what the purpose of the process is, how it is evaluated, and how issues are addressed.
The analysis doesn’t need to be complicated. You might be able to tell at this point where the best opportunities for improvement are. You may be able to see where the process is designed poorly and how it might be fixed.
You and your team can begin to discuss whether you have identified enough improvement opportunities to meet your intended goal or if you still need more information. You may need to repeat the steps of this multiple times to get the full picture.
Now you and your team need to start designing a new process. Here are some of the elements you may want to consider for optimizing your ideal process design:
Once you have settled on the areas you would like to improve, it’s time to get started. Document everything you have found and your plan for correction.
If this is the first time you are engaging in analysis for a particular process, make sure you are also implementing a long-term monitoring plan. You will want to make sure that the process improvements are working as intended and keep an eye out for any unintended consequences. It is recommended to formally review the process monthly at least.
Process analysis should be an ongoing part of your business. You cannot have a successful operation without a thorough and complete understanding of what makes it run. You will be able to make the most accurate and effective decisions about your business if you have engaged in thorough process analyses. These steps should help motivate you to do the work at your organization and become as successful as you can be.
A business that is looking to improve incrementally is going to have to take a look at their current workflow and processes. Process analysis can allow a company to see areas where drastic improvement is needed. Identification of processes to work on can provide clarity and help create an actionable plan. The importance of monitoring changes that came from an analysis is imperative.
Expense reimbursement is nothing short of a nightmare for businesses to organize. With so many departments, employees, and categories of expenses it can create a disaster for even the most efficient accounting department.
The following are ways process analysis can improve expense reimbursement:
Expense reimbursement is a tough part of a business but it should be a priority to improve. Employees should not be out of pocket for very long for expenses related to the company whether it is a hotel room or a software subscription. By breaking down processes it becomes far easier to view where a slowdown is occurring or errors are frequently being made. In the expense reimbursement process of a business, automation can help in a huge way.
FMEA is a project management tool that is used to help point out potential issues with a current or proposed idea. This should be used during the infancy of changes being made to identify areas where issues could arise. Changing the expense reimbursement process in a company can be quite an extensive process. Expenses come in a variety of forms with all departments incurring different costs.
Expense reimbursement forms need to be filled out thoroughly. Not all employees will remember what a specific charge was months later so doing this immediately is imperative. The creation of an accurate budget also needs to keep expense reimbursement in mind. Failure to include this into a budget can lead to company cash flow issues in the future.
Below are tips to use FMEA when finding proper solutions for expense reimbursement.
Changing processes can be tough but identifying risks and monitoring progress can provide clarity to whether a solution is long-term or a quick fix.