The secret to a well-functioning enterprise is good business processes. They help organisations streamline their activities, work productively, and deliver results efficiently.
If you’ve never considered your processes, it’s definitely time to start — improving them can be relatively easy. Essentially, it’s about finding a methodology that will organise the way in which you complete complicated tasks.
Digital processes are particularly important in this day and age. This is not just because everyone is constantly dealing with technology, but also because they can help you streamline things in their own right. Luckily, we believe that you can improve your digital processes quickly and efficiently if you follow these few steps. Let’s dive in.
1. Identify a Process to Improve
The first step is pretty obvious — you’re going to need to figure out which process you want to start with. It’s always good to write up a balance sheet of your organisation: what’s working well? What can be improved? And what urgently requires fixing? We usually recommend kicking off your revamp with a process that’s often repeated following generally the same steps. Consider onboarding, audits, authorisations or sales orders as the first processes to look at.
2. Map out the Current Process
Once you have a process in mind, you should take a look at how it works right now. Often, businesses — and especially young ones — don’t have a written up process that they follow, but rather a set of intuitions led by members of the team. This is why making sure you know how things work right now is crucial for the success of your process improvement. You can use flowchart software to do this, or even a pen and paper would suffice.
3. Pinpoint Issues in the Process
When your process is fully written down, it’s much easier to identify its kinks and bottlenecks. This will allow you to figure out what exactly needs to be improved upon. It’s also worthwhile asking those directly involved with the process for their assessment on which steps create issues. By identifying these problems, you’ll be able to design a workflow that eliminates them.
4. Outline the Potential new Process
Now it’s time to start outlining the new and improved version of the process in question. Beyond figuring out the steps that are needed to complete the task, also consider what can be automated for maximum efficiency. Another decision to make is who is going to automate the processes that have been identified. Will it be out-sourced, or handed to internal IT? Both these options can be expensive and time-consuming, so a third choice might be worth considering — using tools that enable End-User Computing. EUC, according to EASA, refers to “applications [that] are created directly by individuals or groups in a business who would use them, rather than a separate IT or software development department.” The benefit of this approach is that it can be done without dedicated IT resources, which saves time and money.
5. Test the new Process
There’s nothing like trying something out to find out if it works. Your new process may be great on paper, but without putting it into action you are not going to be able to identify any issues or bugs, not to mention making sure it is fit for purpose. First, you may need to present the new process to the team responsible for the project or task, and contend with any questions or reservations they may have. At this stage, it will probably be necessary to adjust the process to accommodate these.
6. Implement the new Process
Congratulations — your new process is pretty much ready to go. It’s important to remember, though, that while in the long run your new process should allow you to complete tasks quickly and more efficiently, it might not be the case for the first few times until your team truly gets the hang of it. Prepare them (and yourself!) mentally for this, as you want full buy-in from them when it comes to the new process.
7. Review it
The exercise of perfecting processes is an ongoing one. The nature of your tasks may transform, new technological developments might appear, or your team could change and develop. Either way, it’s essential to constantly come back to your processes to tweak and improve them. Recording any feedback you get for review iterations could help. We recommend having review sessions more frequently for the first few months of a new process and then holding them every once in a while. Whatever you choose to do, your process is not a done deal and will need to be scrutinised to make it the best it can be.