BPM allows organizational leaders to understand the various processes that happen within their organizations, analyze them from end to end and improve them on an ongoing basis. This activity allows organizational leaders to optimize end-to-end business processes and not simply improve individual tasks, thereby, giving organizational leaders the ability to have a greater impact on outcomes.
This quick guide provides a summary of what is a business process, the 6 stages to implementing improvements and a discussion of how software can play a part in the optimization. This is intended for business owners, IT managers and those who are interested in how software development can play a part in improving their business.
Stage 1 – Documenting as-is
Understanding what your business processes are today is a critical step in the process, quite often what you think are the steps/tasks for a specific process our clients are often surprised when spending time to document that the actual process differs. As any process typically involves different people, different systems and a variable time-period these introduce uncertainty and variations in the process.
This stage requires you to take some time to document what the current process is, but don’t be too ambitious with the scope (until you are more comfortable with the process) – keep the business process you are documenting small to start with. Whether you focus on the use of a mobile app or the interaction of your clients on your website and the subsequent process – keep it simple.
Stage 2- Defining goals
Make your goals measurable, realistic and proportional to your ambition for change (we will discuss this more later but setting unrealistic goals will mean you will surely either fail to achieve the change or you will fail to secure support). If you want to reduce the time taken on producing quotes, improve the number of quotes accepted or reduce the cost spent on creating a quote now is the time to understand what the current metrics are (what are you trying to improve on).
Stage 3 – Identify optimisations
After we have defined our goals we can now re-evaluate the process to see where we might make a small change to have a big difference – this can be difficult as thinking differently isn’t easy for anyone (especially if they have followed this process perhaps for years). Start looking at the overall process – just because you do it this way – should it be done this way? Do you need to do this process at all? Are there any industry/online examples of other processes that you might be able to compare with?
Stage 4 – Define to-be
Hopefully the easier part now – using the same modelling method to write up our process we now write up/document the to-be business process in the same way. This serves to explain the proposed changes to a wider audience and seek their buy-in/acceptance – as any change is only successful if it’s well communicated and managed. You should be clear in any changes, who is impacted and what the possible business benefits are – remember to ‘sell’ the benefits to those employees impacted demonstrating how it will improve their work rather than remove their work.
Stage 5 – Define transition steps
Depending on the process you have defined there will either be a lot of change or a few small changes, this stage we break up the changes into logical steps. My suggestion is to start with the low hanging fruit – typically those that impact the least people/systems and would receive the least opinion if they were changed. The very fact you start with these will demonstrate that change is possible, it can be productive, and it warms people to the idea that not all change is bad.
Stage 6 – Implementation and change management
Now you have secured any budget, communicated the change and gained a clear mandate from any management to ensure any change is driven through the business. Defining a clear plan to implement the change is the secret here – communicate the change early, communicate clearly and repeat messages over a sustained period. Those who are directly impacted by the change should have the most attention, and ideally a member of each impacted team should have a stakeholder involved in the project.
As a software development company, we take pride in the fact we focus on business process improvements, delivering a great value solution and also supporting you and your business in ensuring the solution lands well within your organisation.