published Nov 15, 2023
What Is Your Business Process?
The goal of every business process is to achieve results. So, suppose your current business process is not leading to the benchmarks you imagined for your business or doesn’t seem to have promising results so far. In that case, it’s time to evaluate what the missing link in your current process is through an intentional process improvement.
A business process improvement is the approach you use to refine your current process so that you can identify opportunities to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and value of your business. The right business process mitigates errors, increases employee and customer satisfaction, and maximizes profit. Indeed, a well-optimized business process can save your business about 10% in expenses annually.
These tips should help you improve and manage your business process effectively.
Tip #1: Identify Your Current Process
Your current business process is simply every step you’re taking right now to achieve your business goals. So, the first step to ensuring you’re getting it right is to have a second or umpteenth look at your procedures from the ground up. This will give you a full understanding of how the process is (or isn’t) working for you.
For instance, if you’re trying to understand the current process for running your retail store, you may want to start from the basics of:
How do you determine what goods to stock your store with?
How do you contact the suppliers?
How do you place the order?
How do you receive the goods?
What happens next? Do you keep the goods in a warehouse first, or do you move them straight to the store?
How do you sell to customers, and what is the payment method?
What role do your employees play throughout this process?
How long does the entire cycle take?
To identify your current process effectively, you have to revert to the original idea—where it all began—ensuring you’re still in tune with your business objectives or looking out for any conflict of interest in your roadmap. For clarity, you might want to answer other questions, like:
What is the business process like in terms of efficiency and simplicity/complexity?
Is your current process still in tune with your business objectives?
Has automation or will automation work for your business?
What has worked and what hasn’t worked?
Was the initial analysis and mapping right?
While answering these important questions with your team or business process managers, make sure to document everything. Apart from accountability, documentation opens your eyes to the gaps you could be missing in your current process. That’s why over 96% of successful businesses document their business processes.
Tip #2: Analyze Your Process
After identifying your current process, the next step is to analyze your findings. You should look for redundancies or inefficiencies that could be eliminated by simplifying the process. In one study involving over 2,500 business leaders around the world, 28% of respondents considered unclear business processes to be the root cause of their organizational inefficiency. An additional 32% considered redundancy to be a cause, and 41% said a complex business structure caused it. As such, not dealing with the weak links in your process can cost your business a lot.
Here are some tips to help you analyze your business processes effectively:
Get feedback from your team or staff: Your team or staff directly implements your business process. Most times, as an executive, your job is to ensure they follow the pattern set from the top as-is. So when it’s time to analyze your process, they are your best bet. Going to them for feedback also lets you understand their performance when implementing your current process and if it’s working for them. If your current process doesn’t work for them, you’re likely not getting the expected results.
Measure how long each step takes and what it costs to achieve: Here, try to analyze the tasks and subtasks in your current process. Now is the time to look at your key performance indicators and your process map. While doing so, check how long it takes and what it costs to achieve each step of the process. This will help you adjust and remove repetition, which could be roadblocks or incur extra costs in your current process. Moreover, you can confirm if business process automation is right for you or not. Surprisingly, more than 50% of businesses don’t use business process automation because of the high cost of integrating and maintaining it. However, the same business process automation could save your business about $46,000 yearly.
Tip 3: Determine What's Missing
By now, you should have clarity on your current business process, including the areas that need improvement or more grease. From the previous tip, you saw different ways to analyze your current processes and spot missing links.
Ask yourself which pieces of information, tools, or resources could make the process better if they were included. Then, start preparing these resources as you outline your new process map, filling up the gaps in your current process.
It’s also important to determine the kind of result you might be expecting in your new process. You already know what worked and what did not in your current process—improvement means you expect something better after implementation. So, it’s good to update your objective as you implement your new process. Let your objective be as straightforward and clear as possible so your team can understand it effectively.
Tip 4: Outline a New Process That Includes These Missing Links
Everything you’ve learned in your current process, plus your advanced research while preparing your business process improvement scheme, can be applied to form a new process that complements the gaps sabotaging your current pathway.
To begin, create a plan of action outlining how to incorporate the missing elements into your current process. A productive way to do that is to create a new process map using a flowchart or infographics. Mark out areas in your former business processes that need improvement, then create a newly defined process map featuring these updates.
Tip 5: Implement and Test
You now have everything at your disposal to implement your new business process featuring the missing links in your former process. Run the new business process and evaluate its effectiveness. By assessing its effectiveness, we mean you should check the following:
Whether it’s compatible with your business model.
If it aligns with your business goals.
If there are still things that conflict with your business philosophy.
That your team understands it.
Here are a few ways to implement and test your new process design:
Communicate changes effectively with your team or staff: Sometimes, change is hard to adapt to. However, effective communication acts as grease to ease such friction. Inform your team about the changes you’re making. Also, let them know how these changes apply to your business and how they help you achieve your goals. Remember, it’s your team that implements these new business processes. If they don’t understand things properly, the business won’t run smoothly, or it might take some time to run efficiently, which means more time wastage and expenses for hiring new staff.
Get feedback from your customers: Another area to test your current process is to request feedback from your loyal customers on your new business process changes. Either way, your customer will feel these recent changes, which could affect their ideology about your business. So, request feedback by running surveys, integrating quick pop-up questions, or pitching some questions via email to your customers. Their response will help you implement and test your new business process effectively.
Tip 6: Refine and Adjust Your Proces as Needed
This task doesn’t end with designing a new business process model—you must closely monitor it for potential adaptability problems. The quest for business success is an ongoing journey. So, as the industry changes, you’ll need to adjust your business process.
Aside from that, your newly designed process may not work as well in practice as you thought in theory—leading to more refinement and adjustment until it achieves optimal results. Where possible, you may apply business process automation to help improve your current process.
Document every procedure employed from the start of this list of tips to the end. The more you document the steps, the more clarity and understanding you gain from your business, product market, team/staff, business processes, etc. Consider, for example, that lack of proper documentation was why NASA lost the Mars Climate Orbiter along with $125 million in 1999. NASA could have possibly prevented this if it had documented and communicated its processes effectively.
How Else Do You Improve Your Business Process?
As mentioned before, your business process is a continuous journey of learning and building that requires careful consideration and observation. As a result, you need dedicated eyes on it for optimal results.
One surefire way to do this is to hire the services of professional business consultants, such as Foreword Companies. At Foreword Companies, we boast a robust team of professionals across different business and finance spectrums. We operate according to our 3PX philosophy: People-First, Profit-Driven, Process-Oriented, and Experience-Centric (Customer Experience, that is). Any business can adopt this philosophy to improve its internal processes.
Beyond the tips we’ve provided here, we can be that extra pair of eyes you need to constantly keep your business process in check to ensure you achieve and exceed your business goals. To get started, simply schedule a call with us today.
A business process is the procedures or activities that, when applied, achieve a desired business goal. A good business process is repeatable, comprehensive, affects a business positively, and achieves intended results when used. Also, business processes may or may not be visible to customers but usually give them an idea about your business one way or another.
Business process managers are experts who use different approaches to discover, design, analyze, measure, improve, implement, test, optimize, and automate business processes. The manner in which business process managers develop and manage business processes is known as business process management (BPM).