In the highly dynamic business world where competition levels are rising every day, business owners and managers can not afford to run their organizations and companies in a chaotic manner anymore. Undefined business processes can lead to chaos that can result in low levels of productivity and inconsistent outcomes.
Businesses need to have defined systems and properly managed processes to help identify inefficiencies and errors that can turn into a massive crisis. Well-managed processes can also enable organizations and companies to generate consistent results and manage various functions and operations efficiently. It is why most successful business owners acknowledge that business processes are the backbone of any organization.
Before we jump into the subject of business process design, let us talk about business processes first.
A business process is a cluster of related tasks, activities, or functions performed in a specific sequence to produce a product or a service for customers or clients. It typically involves repeatable steps that are essential for achieving some business goal.
Efficient business processes provide organizational structure to a business and become a glue that holds everything together. Most companies and organizations are taking the necessary steps to improve their processes to bring structure and transparency in their daily activities and functions that can help enhance their productivity levels. Streamlined processes also help businesses improve customer satisfaction and increase agility to respond to rapidly changing market conditions.
Hence, the significance of business processes cannot be ignored.
Businesses can be explained well with an example of a river. A river starts with a tiny drop of water and grows while moving towards the ocean by adding thousands of streams and small rivers in it before finally merging into the ocean.
In the same way, a business begins with a single or small set of processes, and as it grows, more functions add to it. A successful business consists of several processes – some happening one at a time while some need to be performed together. Every task, action, function, or activity contributes to the organization’s output.
However, like a big, unruly river, if these numerous processes are not managed properly, they can be detrimental to the health of the organization. It is where the business process design comes in.
Business Process Design
It is the process of the creation of new workflows and processes from scratch. Generally, companies and organizations engage in business process design when they are planning to produce or deliver a new product or a service. The aim behind this practice is to develop efficient processes and effective workflows that are easy to repeat and yield desired results.
An organization can perform this practice implicitly or take a more structured, organized, and formal approach.
The implicit approach to designing a business process is a simple but not-so-efficient approach. The implicit approach means you begin the work on the process and later figure out what to do next as you move forward. This approach can be as simple as visualizing an aim and taking steps to achieve that aim. However, this approach is not as effective or efficient as a deliberated and well-thought approach to designing a business process. Efficient business processes must have minimum bottlenecks, more transparency and be easy to replicate.
A large number of businesses tend to design their processes implicitly. It means that they do not analyze, structure or graph out their processes. Rather, they perform their processes the usual way.
On the other hand, in the structured approach, the organization design their processes in a more formal and structured way. Firstly, they begin with the research and then step by step, they map out the process. This approach is more efficient and result-oriented since the relevant people know which exact activity they need to perform next and in what order. In addition, adopting a structured approach makes an organization seem more formal and professional since the concerned members know what to say during an interaction with the client.
The lack of structured processes in an organization leads to inconsistencies and inefficiencies as the concerned staff will resort to daily activities based on their past experiences in that industry.
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Designing a structured business process has a direct impact on an organization’s efficiency, productivity, and success. In the absence of an explicit, consistent and structured system, an organization may experience issues in maintaining productivity and managing results and costs. Structured and efficient business processes mean better outcomes.
We have explained some of the benefits of business process design below –
• A clear understanding of the overall business strategy – Efficient business processes helps an organization in executing its business strategy, and business process design makes sure that every stakeholder understands the overall goals and objectives of the organization. Business process design also helps by clarifying daily tasks to employees that contribute to bigger goals and objectives.
• Structure and standardization – Business process design helps structure and standardize a business process. A good business process design eliminates the guesswork in a process. Standardized business processes are simpler to follow with fewer chances of errors and mistakes. And they offer more productivity at relatively lower costs. In addition, a well-designed business process makes sure that everyone follows the rules consistently.
• Efficiency – Structuring business processes also helps in making them more efficient. Business process design maps out a process step-by-step, which helps spot unnecessary and time-wasting activities. A streamlined process means getting things done at a faster rate.
• Enhanced visibility – An efficient business process design aids an organization by making it easier for employees to access process information and track its progression towards the overall goals and objectives. With easy retrieval of data and information, the decision-makers of the organization can make informed decisions quickly and take essential steps to fill the gaps in performance and productivity.
• Better communication – Business process design helps improve communication by developing a common language and methodology for process guidelines and procedures. The documentation of every process also assists in the easy transfer and preservation of knowledge and information of the organization.
• Integration with existing systems – A good business process design makes it easier for a new process to integrate with existing processes, workflows and software. In addition, business process design helps figure out how different processes have an impact on each other.
An effective business process design requires a methodical approach that can progress through the steps explained below. These business process design steps are –
• Define your goals and problems – The first step of business process design should involve a clear specification of goals, motivations and reasons for designing that process. It is also equally crucial to identify the problems and issues that revolve around developing the process.
Sometimes, it is relatively easy to achieve the desired goal, whereas other times, the processes may require more involvement and effort depending upon the nature and conditions of the organization. For instance, a company may require a concrete process design for showing the progress of a new service or a product launched recently.
Nevertheless, at this step, it should be thoroughly considered if the new process will provide any value or additional benefits to the organization.
• Identify inputs, outputs and procedures – This step consists of the identification of inputs, outputs and procedures involved in designing new processes.
The inputs are the resources and materials required in the process to function smoothly and produce desired results. Inputs may involve physical materials such as equipment or machinery, human resources like staff, manpower or labor, financial resources and other resources such as physical location and time etc.
The outputs are directly linked to the desired goals and results. Outputs can be physical goods, such as a sellable product made during the manufacturing process, or it could be a service like delivering a product to customers.
Also, ponder upon the procedures or actions required to produce outputs through the process.
Finally, make a list of all the inputs, outputs and procedures separately so that you can easily refer to them later.
• Fix roles and responsibilities – It is crucial to determine the roles and responsibilities throughout the process to hold the involved people accountable for their actions.
It is also critical to check if the process cross departments since it may need additional cohesive measures to make departments function together smoothly.
• Map out the process – The next step involves business process mapping. For this, you need to develop a process map to plan the sequence of tasks or activities.
A process map is a planning tool for visually depicting the workflow while designing a business process. It may acquire different forms. A simple process map can be easily described in the form of an infographic or flowchart.
Even though all process maps may vary according to the complexity of the process, they must include some key elements, such as –
– Decision points
– Inputs and outputs
– Involved stakeholders
– Required time
Process maps help improve visibility and can be easily integrated with the existing technology systems of the organization.
A process map can be developed manually or with the help of BPM software. Every step should be written in simple, easy-to-read, and plain English. Also, ensure that you include all the identified inputs, outputs, stakeholders and procedures in the process map.
• Digitization and automation – Digitization and automation of a business process design help an organization improve its workflow efficiency. Around 70 per cent of organizations tend to lean towards using business process automation software.
Digitization of a business process design with business process automation software is helpful to organize the order of activities to be performed in the process and assign responsibilities for every activity. Hence, it makes it easier for the team members to know how and when the process moves through the multiple steps.
• Documentation – Documentation of every business process is an essential step. The organizations must document elaborated working procedures that should reveal how the process should move forward and all relevant people. Also, it should be easier for all the involved members to access the documentation of the process. And the documentation must be kept up-to-date throughout the process at all times.
• Monitor the process – It is essential to monitor a new process thoroughly for checking its improvement, efficiency and productivity. It is also equally important to test a new process thoroughly before implementing it into the business operations.
New processes must be tracked to comprehend how they perform in real situations and crises. While monitoring a process, you should develop an outline that tells when to start observing the process and how to do it. It will help you obtain a clear picture that can assist in identifying all bottlenecks and revealing how much improvement is required.
There is no doubt that efficient processes are the soul of any business. Designing new business processes presents an opportunity for the organizations to develop a better team that involves all stakeholders across the various business units, promotes a better understanding of the organization’s overall goals and objectives and create a roadmap for success with highly efficient and productive business processes.
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