Five easy steps to effective Business Process Management
Business Process Management is about taking conscious control over regularly occurring processes in your business.
Whether it’s about the way you take and confirm bookings, how you manage invoicing and accounts, your inventory tracking or even things like daily employee performance measurement systems, all businesses have processes that need to happen consistently to ensure compliance, good communication and profitability.
So what are some of the key Business Process Management steps that can be applied to any business, regardless of size or industry?
According to Microsoft, there are five key steps in business process management. They are:
Step 1: Design
This step is about looking at who owns and performs particular tasks and figuring out whether they could be done more efficiently. For example, if there are clients who receive a monthly invoice, is this invoice being manually recreated monthly or is it set to ‘recurring’ within the accounts system? Could internal communications systems be improved by moving from email to a platform like Slack?
With the proliferation of task management apps, there are plenty of ways to set up workflows and alerts to remind people to complete certain tasks, or to automate processes like order fulfilment and dispatch within a warehousing environment.
If it’s about designing a process from scratch, this is where you need to consider best practice, rather than simply what you know or have done in the past, so research, along with internal and external consultation can bring huge benefits.
Step 2: Model
Modelling is all about understanding how the process fits within a sequence of events and creating a visual workflow to depict that process. There are lots of free templates to assist with data visualisation here.
At this step, you need to consider multiple variables and conduct a ‘what if’ analysis that takes into account things that might occur within the pipeline (i.e. delays, increases to orders, requests for fast-tracking) and consider – and make a plan for – how those variables will impact the process model.
Step 3: Execute
Train the necessary people on the new process, including an explanation of why the process exists, and go ahead and implement it.
This is the test and learn stage so start small and see how the new process goes before you adopt it more broadly.
Step 4: Monitor
Monitor the process as it runs through the workflow and apply the necessary metrics to assess performance. Has the new process reduced the amount of steps required? Has it sped things up? Has it reduced human error?
You should be able to figure out if the process is valuable and worth keeping at this stage. If not, withdraw it and redesign it – you don’t need to keep a process that doesn’t fit your business’ needs.
Step 5: Optimise
The process is working but can it be improved? Are there upgrades to software that might make things work better? Are there team collaboration platforms that could improve communication and reduce time spent waiting on sign off and approvals?
It’s rare for a process to be completely perfect so this is your opportunity to ask for feedback, review performance and explore any add-ons or upgrades that might supercharge your business even further.
Why are Business Process Management systems worth your time and attention?
Business Consultant Debbie Roberts explains: “To be better able to manage and grow your business it is imperative that you understand your existing systems and processes, as well as how they can be improved. This is often challenging to do internally as there may be internal blockers to the process, and some business owners are too close to the coalface to see processes objectively. It’s that old adage of finding time to work on the business as well as in the business.
“The main goal of a business process management audit is to continuously improve the business by increasing employee engagement and productivity, reducing waste and inefficiencies, and streamlining workflows. I’ve been conducting process audits for over 20 years’ and have helped hundreds of businesses and not-for-profits develop systems, policies, procedures and processes, often starting from a blank canvas. I get a massive kick from seeing a new process I’ve helped design save time, money and – on some occasions – business owners’ sanity,” says Debbie.