Is there anything more important than keeping business processes running seamlessly?
Processes push companies forward every day. It’s the work conducted in all organizational departments. It’s the relationship with customers. It’s what generates revenue as well as what reduces costs. It’s growth. It’s everything.
Improving processes becomes a crucial aspect for creating value, collaborating cross-functionally, achieving better results, and delivering a high-quality customer experience.
Moreover, process improvement enables companies to innovate faster, work smarter, and respond promptly to changing market demands.
But do you know what a business process is?
A process is simply a set of activities and transactions that an organization regularly performs to achieve an objective.
It doesn’t matter how structured or unstructured it is, there is always a process being followed. It doesn’t matter which department you work in, which segment the company operates in and whether or not your work aims to generate profit. Each activity follows a process.
Processes can be:
- simple (such as answering a request)
- complex (such as developing products)
- short-term (such as reviewing a policy)
- permanent (such as quality assurance)
- role-specific (such as contract management)
- segment-specific (such as procurement of healthcare supplies)
They can also cover a single department (such as invoice payment), cover the entire company (as in strategic planning) and even extend to business partners (as in reseller management).
As companies grow, they experience changes that make them increasingly complex. Each of these changes adds cost and risk to the business, and process management can be crucial to the company’s survival.
With that in mind, here’s how to improve business process management to achieve better results in your company.
How to improve business process management in 6 steps
1. Map your business processes
Conducting business without well-defined processes is just like flying a plane in the dark, without the support of the proper flight instruments.
Therefore, one of the initial steps to understand and improve a process is to map it.
Documenting the process using visual tools such as a flowchart, turtle diagram, or SIPOC can make it easier to identify process steps that need improvement, as well as risks, failures, and bottlenecks.
The clearer and simpler the process, the easier it will be for people to perform their activities, helping to achieve their goals.
It’s important not to worry about covering all the company’s processes, trying to solve all problems at once.
To start, choose a process that is not too simple, not too complex, but one that has an impact. This will give the team the opportunity to move up the learning curve. With more experience, they will be able to face something a little more complex
2. Analyze what needs to be improved in the process
It is essential that employees who interact with the process in question are always included in this analysis. There is no one better to suggest improvements than who is involved in the process every day. They can suggest practical and cost-effective solutions.
After you’ve identified the potential failures and bottlenecks in the previous step, it’s time to use root cause analysis tools to discover the source of these problems and how you can work to eliminate them.
With the problems and opportunities for improvement identified, you already have your objective and can start creating an action plan to implement the change and eliminate potential failures in your process.
When working on improvement initiatives, it is also important to think of a risk management plan for the process.
A good risk plan should help you prepare for unwanted situations, minimizing risks and potential costs before they happen.
3. Implement and communicate the change
Implementing improvements in any organizational area is not such a simple task, and for all the effort or resources invested to be worth it, the change actually needs to provide benefits to the organization.
Perform the tasks as established in the previous step. Create reports, records or indicators that can prove the effectiveness of the change that has been implemented.
Root cause findings identified in one plant should be applied to all other facilities, reducing risk, and preventing the problem from occurring elsewhere.
Be sure to keep all stakeholders informed on the progress of identifying the problems and improvement solutions implemented in the processes.
4. Review the process
Without assessing the implemented improvements, you have no way of measuring whether the results went according to plan, right?
Therefore, at this stage it is essential to analyze the effectiveness of the implemented changes and make sure that all the proposed measures have been completed.
In addition, it is very important to check with the professionals who are working directly with the changed processes to find out if everything is working according to plan.
Check the impact of the changes in the process or if new risks have emerged that were not mapped during the planning process. Any unforeseen results should be reviewed and analyzed.
Finally, take corrective action based on what has been verified. Have the results been achieved? Great! Was there a problem or can the process still improve? Then go back to step one and study your process further.
5. Continuously improve
In the last step, the cycle begins to repeat itself.
Improving a process does not mean finding a working method that works and following it forever, but looking at where you are today, where you want to go, thus defining what needs to be done to get there.
Once you get there, you start over, looking for ways to improve even further. This is continuous improvement. Whatever your company’s business segment, this is the formula to be followed to remain competitive.
There is a lot of information available about continuous improvement, sometimes confusing people and making them feel lost.
It is important to start by analyzing the current situation. Once you understand the scenario, you are ready to start following the PDCA cycle.
- PLAN: Plan for improvements, including setting goals.
- DO: Implement the planned actions needed for improvement.
- CHECK: Analyze results against the plan.
- ACT: If everything goes according to plan, standardize. If something is different, adjust.
6.Automate and conduct processes more efficiently
Does your team spend countless hours filling out forms and spreadsheets, or sending emails to keep track of processes and deadlines?
This type of task makes processes slow and costly. Even worse, often no one realizes how much higher revenues could have been if processes had been more efficient.
Eliminating manual processes is a solution to these situations and one of the fastest ways to reduce errors and inefficiencies.
With process automation, people can focus on higher value-added tasks.
Business Process Management solutions allow people from different departments to work together in the same process, in an agile and efficient way.
Now that you know how to improve business process management, you can also learn about SoftExpert BPM, the most complete and innovative solution for process improvement and automation, regulatory compliance, and excellence in business process management.