According to Bill Gates, the fundamental business concept of this decade is speed. However, many modern entrepreneurs don’t know how to adjust their workflows at a fast pace due to the overwhelming volume of tasks and continuously changing market conditions. This is where such crucial problems such as inefficient budgeting, poor customer satisfaction, and incompetent staff management, arise.
Effective business process management is vital for keeping your company up with the times and maintaining it afloat. How to come up with a universal management formula and apply it properly? Let’s figure it out.
Business Process Essence
To put it simply, the business process is a systematically recurring cycle of actions. It helps you create a product or provide a service valuable to the clients based on the existing company's resources. Typically, these are several large-scale directions that form definite workflows. For example, HR direction with a custom workflow, bookkeeping, production, etc.
A business process includes a series of steps that help to achieve the desired outcome. The main advantage of establishing a stable process is that it can be repeated to obtain consistent results.
The main parts of any business process are checks and balances. For example, when you develop new features of your software, you need to review and test them before they become part of the released product. In case you miss even a single operation, for example, at the planning stage, the quality of your product will be drastically decreased.
The goal of top managers is to analyze each of these workflows; to evaluate the effectiveness of the company's staff, improve strategic planning, streamline and optimize the work of every department, and, finally, reveal the economic potential of a business.
This approach gives you the following benefits:
- clear and transparent data on all internal and external processes
- definition of tasks and objectives allowing for competent prioritization
- effective coordination and systematization of processes within all departments
- the possibility of regular work operations management and analysis of the results
- stable success and growth of the entire business
Setting Up a Business Process: Where to Start?
Let’s circle around three major directions of business setup: vertical, horizontal, and a full range of services.
1. Horizontal is a broad concept. It means the creation and implementation of new processes by using the latest technologies.
2. Vertical starts with template solutions and changes for different purposes.
3. The full range of services includes several steps - design, monitoring, modeling, optimization, etc., which depend on what the company does.
Typically, these steps are:
Step 1. Design
It’s the planning phase that begins with the definition of existing processes or the creation of a new one. For this, you can use a flowchart or mind map approach.
Step 2. Execution
Running the developed process itself.
Step 3. Monitoring
After you launch the process, you need to monitor its functioning to see whether it helps you to achieve the primary objectives. Also, create some artificial business cases to test how well your new process will cope with them.
This function shows you the detected flaws of a process that you need to improve. For example, if it doesn’t allow you to perform the tasks fast, you have to find new ways to accelerate the process.
When you set up business processes in accordance with this sequence, your company gets the possibility to increase the economic level and boost the speed of development. By distributing the workflows to important and secondary ones, you can quickly discover areas that need improvements immediately.
Four-factor Business Process Model: Check For Viability
Make sure that your business process management system covers each of the following levels of company activity.
- Interaction of the goals and processes as a whole
- High-quality execution of implemented processes
- Monitoring the performance of operations and tracking results
- Improving the professional level of staff and ensuring their high motivation
This four-factor model contributes to smooth and proper work.
Practice: As an example, let's consider the app development process within an outsourcing IT firm.
1. At first, you need to set clear goals with a client, discussing the business value of the app, desired functionality, customer’s vision, and some other important aspects. That is how you’ll connect the goals with processes and establish fine-tune workflows according to the order.
Ideally, at the end of this stage, the client has precise requirements for future products. It allows developers to estimate the amount of work and build an accurate development plan.
2. To ensure high-quality execution of development processes, the company should take care of testing. Before the release, the dev team should test and fix detected errors, check texts, images, compatibility, power consumption, and speed.
3. To monitor the performance of operations, a client can ask for access to the project and constant communication with a responsible manager. Typically, communication workflows include daily meetings, reports, video chats, and team building to track the project issues, the budget spent, and the work progress. The possibility of 24/7 customer service can be a great advantage for the client.
4. The last but not the least factor, accompanying the entire development process, is motivation. This value is essential for high productivity and low employee turnover. You should provide your team members with a good working environment, reward and recognize their achievements, increase engagement level, contribute to the development of their professional skills, and regularly assess their job satisfaction. To encourage workers to achieve the goals of the company, create a transparent system of motivation with precisely specified KPIs and prospects.
Customize this four-factor model according to your business specifics to ensure high results on every front.
Things to Avoid During BPM Implementation
Not Getting an Executive Endorsement
You need to have an endorsement before you start to implement your approach. An explicit confirmation from the top managers makes it possible to set the project and choose the parties who will be involved in the project. For example, will the CEO, COO, CMO, IT director, managers and others be involved? If you don't have executive support, it will be hard for you to see the financial justification for a return on investment.
Lack of a Business Case
If you want to start a business without a deep understanding of benefits, expenses and a scheme to measure success, then most likely you will fail. You need to clearly set your goal before introducing a BPM tool and building the infrastructure. If you don't have an accurate business case at the initial stage, you’re not likely to achieve the primary goal.
If you don't have a competent team or you don't want to invest in employees on the whole, such an attitude can lead to failure. Specialists who can forecast and prevent mistakes and implement cost-effective improvements is a crucial part of investing in your future staff.
Lack of Communication
Communication is the foundation of the project and company success. It allows you to attract stakeholders and establish a positive working environment. Your communication materials can be reports, project updates, overview of issues, risks, performance metrics, etc.
The employees who will take the top management positions and manage the internal processes through BPM approaches should be highly responsible people. Make sure that your C-level specialists don't act irresponsibly because any error can severely affect the project outcome.
Apply Different Practices
Consider BPM as teamwork since each person has an opinion on how things should be done. During the implementation, both managers and executive employees should brainstorm, suggest different points of view and never stop experimenting.
As you can see, without a clear strategy, workflow, communication and, most importantly, people, you won't be able to reveal the full potential of your organization.
- Hire competent employees and distribute responsibility for each business process among them. It’s not a good idea to bring up “universal soldiers” who take on diversified tasks from different areas.
- Automate every possible micro process by using the BPA software. Statista concluded that by the end of 2019, the business process automation market is expected to reach 9.7 billion U.S. dollars globally, including both external services and software and internal operational spend. Keep in mind that BPA tools cover not only the sales and marketing part (mailing, adding clients to CRM, content planning, etc.) but also can help you in strategic planning, forming reports, tracking KPIs, invoicing, task management, and managing other workflows.
- Determine the volume of work. The overwhelming number of tasks is the leading issue for modern business owners. That’s why you should clearly define the boundaries (when and how the process begins and ends) at the start. Such an approach will help you create a detailed plan for each stage with no risk of disrupting deadlines.
- Create official documentation with a list of all company processes and thoroughly describe them, up to the step-by-step tutorials. Visualization will help you arrange tasks and not miss important steps.
- Constantly experiment until you’re fully satisfied with the system. The first version will show you if everything works well. After testing, you’ll see the gaps and shortcomings, and understand how to set up a business process to make it work perfectly.
Business Process Management Tools
Business process automation is the present and future of every successful business. The market changes, and, luckily, hundreds of modern software solutions designed to adjust business operations to dynamically changing conditions are at the disposal of entrepreneurs. A fundamentally new class of IT systems, Business Process Management (BPM) tools, are the indispensable element of any company’s infrastructure.
The BPM tools serve to establish an efficient approach to company management and allow managers to automate end-to-end business processes and make changes to them. By using them, companies can eliminate functional barriers and coordinate the work of different departments or corporate applications.
Using the best business process management tools can help you place your business ahead of your competitors. GoodFirms has listed the best business process management software including Flokzu, KiSSFLOW, Accelo, and more.
And here are the features of some of the most prominent BPM solutions.
Visual Paradigm supports a large number of notations, flowcharts, and models, starting from standard IDEF, EPC and BPMN notations to database schemas, interaction diagrams, and matrices.
It allows users to manage item attributes in detail, which in turn automatically generates precise process descriptions. Since the program was initially designed for developers, you can upload the resulting models in the format of the program code.
Nintex software has been an on-premise tool, but over time, it introduced some cloud options. Now it's a leader in Workflow Automation and Intelligent Process Automation (IPA).
The Nintex allows you to optimize complex processes, which are the core of your business. It offers the quickest and easiest way to improve workflows more straightforwardly, integrates content, and provides a batch of other essential management features.
Process Street is a simple platform allowing users to manage their team workflows and business processes. By using it, you can create workflows, checklists, and stand operating procedures(SOP’s).
PegaSystems is a comprehensive Business Process Management tool based on Java and OOP concepts. It provides users with the opportunity to assemble the business app using visual tools. The in-built support management system allows the company owner to create a process flow to combine people and technology for automation and improve efficiency in case of some unexpected events.
Manage Your Business Wisely
The wisely built and applied business process management system helps entrepreneurs improve productivity, reduce costs, avoid risks, maintain company flexibility, and quickly adapt to rapid market changes.
Transparency, which is a basis of the BPM concept, directly affects the effectiveness of the whole team. That’s how CEOs assess the state and potential of the business; managers see the areas of responsibilities and decision-making space; employees understand their tasks and goals.
A custom approach to setting and maintaining business processes provides companies with a competitive advantage and wide management opportunities.
Dave Roberts is CEO & Founder of the international creative agency, ReVerb, which provides more than 550 tech businesses with SEO, PR, ICO marketing, content marketing and proofreading services. Due to his rich expertise in management, writing, media production, social media marketing, graphic design, and advertisement development, Dave helps clients direct all facets of business and product marketing initiatives and strategies across the global sector.
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