Repeatable, scalable business processes drive growth. They make it easier to measure success and improve results over time. Sounds simple when you write it down. In reality, business process management may be simple but it’s hard to well. And it’s very hard to keep doing it well over time because successful processes need to evolve alongside your team and organization. Otherwise they stagnate and become chaotic and inefficient…
Most of us have experienced what happens when a key business process stops working. The results aren’t pretty. Important deadlines get missed, tasks go undone and customers get sub-par service. At the same time, minutiae-driven steps sneak into the process and bloat it.
So what can you do to avoid that? How can you supercharge your business process management to increase productivity and hone your competitive edge by keeping process management in line? That’s what this article is all about. We’ll take a look at some specific things you can do right now.
1. Choose a process management technique that makes sense for your organization
Your business processes guide every part of your business, from employee onboarding and training to customer satisfaction and product manufacture. While each process should be optimized individually, using an overarching structure can make everything flow smoother.
There’s no single right way to set up and manage your business processes but there are three prevailing theories about BPM you can use: six sigma, total quality management and the business process management lifecycle.
Each theory has the same ultimate objective: to help you create repeatable, optimized processes that drive growth, increase performance and improve productivity. They just approach the set up a little differently.
Make sure that you chose a theory (or a combination of approaches) that fits with the way your team works and measures results– otherwise you’ll face a lot more resistance and ultimately, going against the natural flow will affect process efficiency.
2. Conduct a proper process analysis
One of the best ways to improve existing processes and identify gaps is to run an audit. Every process in your business needs to have a specific purpose that helps your organization achieve key, measurable goals. Use the audit to analyze existing processes, compare them against the process goals and identify room for optimization.
If you are not sure where to start, you can use a theory like Porter’s five forces to identify the biggest competitive forces standing in the way of your success. Once you know what they are, you can use them to improve and optimize process goals.
3. Use the BMP Lifecycle (but adapt it to your needs.)
The business project management lifecycle (BPM) is made out of five steps.
- Model. Creating a roadmap/ model of the process using your BPM software.
- Implement. Add all the relevant data and information into your model. This can include forms, key documents, and tool integrations.
- Execute. Turn the model into a repeatable system. Start by beta-testing on a small scale before launching the full process.
- Monitor. Keep an eye on your process and analyze it through various implementations. Watch out for leaks and bottlenecks.
- Optimize. Improve the process by making changes based on what you’re learning.
Using these simple, repeatable steps– while adapting them to your way of working– will help your business processes stay lean and effective.
4. Use Master Production Scheduling (MPS)
Every business process you use should be detailed, measurable, specific and have a clear goal attached to it. It should also be a part of your overall plan. Master production scheduling is one way to map out that plan.
MPS is a process traditionally used to map out manufacturing processes but you can use the theory to manage almost any sort of product production.
An MPS plan takes all your production data– including production costs, lead time, inventory costs, capacity and customer demand — and uses that to create a business process map. You can then use this map to understand how all the different pieces work together and make more informed decisions.
5. Share your process maps and encourage constructive input
The key decision makers for each department and each process should have a say in how the business process functions because they are the ones using it every day. With a shared process map, you can share valuable information about process scope including the inputs, goals, relevant data and potential bottlenecks and encourage constructive feedback.
Processes get bloated when we use them blindly and don’t encourage feedback. Creating a shared process map that explicitly outlines the entire process and includes the data that drives it, can help your team understand why the process works the way it does. This creates a feeling of ownership and a better understanding of business goals and leads to better team management.
6. Leverage smart automation
Smart automation can help you reduce human error, stay lean and optimize your business processes.
You can leverage automation at various points in your business processes. For example, you can automate menial tasks like inventory ordering by setting up repeatable if/then rules. Automating menial tasks can help you use your team better and increase results accuracy.
7. Use BPM tools that work across multiple devices
We haven’t spent a lot of time talking about tools in this post because a lot of businesses use proprietary solutions for BPM. However, there is one key thing that your BPM tool needs to do.
Your team isn’t just working on their desktop. More and more people are using mobile devices to get work done on the go. An HR manager may need to check the onboarding workflow in the couple of minutes before a meeting or the manufacturing manager may need to check a process while visiting a partner warehouse. That’s why you need to make sure that whatever tools you use to map out processes work across various devices.
Process optimization never ends
Processes need constant improvement. Effective processes need to change over time to fit with your evolving wants and needs. Because the second you stop optimizing, you are creating room for stagnation. But if you keep analyzing your processes for inefficiency and measuring key metrics as you go along, you are setting your organization up for success.