Do you model your business processes?
If you don’t model your business processes, you are making it harder to manage your processes end-to-end. Once you have modelled them, you can use them as a basis for review and identify where improvements could be made.
Some of the main reasons companies document business processes are:
- Look for efficiency gains.
- Document processes.
- Look for issues/problems.
- Satisfy a regulator.
- Train staff (existing and new).
- Improve customer service.
- Enforce a consistent approach to the process.
- Enable change.
Modelling business processes aids communication and understanding between the different stakeholders; helping to identify and solve problems. They also provide the documentation to how something should be processed and encourage one way of working. It allows future changes to be more agile and secure.
Mapping versus Modelling.
Most people assume these are the same. In one way, I can see why. However, they are different. It is important that a business process is mapped before the detailed modelling is completed. This is key when you have business processes that cross departments.
- A Process Map helps to determine the processes required to deliver value to the main beneficiary. It shows the dependencies between processes.
- A Process Model is the detailed flow. The tasks, who participates (known as actors) and the key decision or business rules that constrain the process.
Process models can be created for a range of purposes.
- As-Is: The current process.
- Should-Be: This is the way the process was intended to work. This may be the same as the as-is map.
- Could-Be: What would be the ultimate process if there was no restraints on design or funding?
- To-Be: After initial conversations have been held, this is produced to show what the to-be process will be. This is useful in times of change to show how things will be different.
When modelling business processes, it is important to remember that it doesn’t just cover systems. Everything that needs to be done in your business is a process, and therefore, a process map (as a minimum) should be created.
Issues being identified.
As I mentioned earlier, modelling your business processes can help you identify problems. You may have problems with the flow through, individual tasks, performance issues or have business rules that significantly constrain the process.
I have listed below a few of the common problems companies face along with potential improvements:
- Too many handoffs adding delays to the process – Review the teams involved, simplify the process, re-train/upskill staff and check authorisation levels for any changes needed.
- Queues/Bottlenecks caused by lack of skills, workload issues or staffing issues – Carry out critical path analysis including the skills and roles needed. Review current staffing and skill levels to identify any gaps. Assess current workloads and address any issues.
- Unnecessary looping caused by restricted access or incorrect authority levels – Does the process need to go back to previous teams? Is there a requirement for a certain level to approve the process before the next step.
- IS/IT issues mainly where systems are old or need a lot of manual entry – Consider ways to automate information. Look at alternative solutions that provide a better user experience.
Looking at the overall view.
It is important to look at the overall business process and not the tasks on their own. If you were look at the tasks in isolation, you can cause more problems than the one you have resolved.
As an example: Step four is the weakest in the process. It doesn’t have the relevant skills available to complete it to the required standard. Whilst looking at improvements, it is identified that step two could be automated to make the process smoother and reduce turnaround times. However, if you were to make this change without considering the other steps in the process, you could end up with a process backlog at step four. This will cause stress and dissatisfaction for the users and could impact on customer service.
Is it time for an outside view?
If you don’t have your business processes at least mapped out, you are missing opportunities to enhance them. If you don’t know what is done to the letter, how do you know where you can improve it? You are also at risk as potentially the only people that know the process are those that do it. What if they are not available – Can someone else just ‘do it’?
For process mapping, I offer my clients two main services: A complete ‘Done for you’ service where I come in and do the work (this can be at a mapping or modelling level) or as a trainer/mentor to existing staff. Both of these are offered as a bespoke service as every process and company is different.
If you would like a complimentary 30-minute chat to discuss how I could help you model you business processes, feel free to get in touch. It’s a good chance for you to ask any questions you have and see if you think I’m the right person for you.