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You probably use dozens of business processes every day. For example, you may go through the same steps each time you generate a report, resolve a customer complaint, contact a new client, or manufacture a new product.
You've likely come across the results of inefficient processes, too. Unhappy customers, stressed colleagues, missed deadlines, and increased costs are just some of the problems that dysfunctional processes can create.
That's why it's so important to improve processes when they are not working well. In this article, we'll look at how you can do this. About Business Processes Processes can be formal or informal. Formal processes — also known as procedures — are documented, and have well-established steps.
For example, you might have procedures for receiving and submitting invoices, or for establishing relationships with new clients. Formal processes are particularly important when there are safety-related, legal or financial reasons for following particular steps.
Informal processes are more likely to be ones that you have created yourself, and you may not have written them down. For example, you might have your own set of steps for noting meeting actions, carrying out market research, or communicating new leads. The Importance of Efficient Processes These different kinds of processes have one thing in common: When everyone follows a well-tested set of steps, there are fewer errors and delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff and customers feel more satisfied.
Processes that don't work can lead to numerous problems. Customers may complain about poor product quality or bad service. Work may be duplicated, or not done. Bottlenecks can develop, causing you to miss deadlines. In this article, we focus on incremental process change, aimed at improving existing processes.
If you need to start again from first principles, see our article on Business Process Reengineering. Improving Your Team's Processes When you encounter some of the problems mentioned above, it may be time to review and update the relevant process.
Follow these steps to do this: Map the Process Once you've decided which process you want to improve, document each step using a Flowchart or a Swim Lane Diagram. These tools show the steps in the process visually.
Swim lane diagrams are slightly more complex than flowcharts, but they're great for processes that involve several people or groups. It's important to explore each phase in detail, as some processes may contain sub-steps that you're not aware of. Consult people who use the process regularly to ensure that you don't overlook anything important.
Analyze the Process Use your flow chart or swim lane diagram to investigate the problems within the process.
Consider the following questions: Where do team members or customers get frustrated? Which of these steps requires the most time, or causes the most delays?Business Analysis Tools, Templates and Checklists Welcome to our Tools, Templates & Checklists section, a free hub of professional development business analysis resources designed to help you manage your career.
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The SBA connects entrepreneurs with lenders and funding to help them plan, start and grow their business. Grikštaitė J. () Business process modelling and simulation: advantages and disadvantages. Global Academic Society Journal: Social Science Insight, Vol. 1, No. 3.