Running a business is challenging and as your business grows, you need to have proper business processes established to guide everyone in the organisation on how things are done.
If you fail to do so, you run the risk of having many unsatisfied customers, missed deadlines, discontented workers, increased operational costs, wasted resources and a myriad of other problems.
What is a ‘business process’?
A business process is a collection of tasks that are often interrelated and performed as a response to an action to achieve the organisation’s goal, such as delivering a service or a product. To put it simply, a business process is the organisation’s model, checklist, or guide that defines how tasks should be accomplished.
A business process may be broken down into sub-processes and have a member of a team or unit assigned to each task to ensure accountability and smooth execution from start to finish.
Business processes are generally categorised into:
- Management Processes – these refer to the processes that govern the organisation’s business procedures and systems which include internal communications, budgeting and strategic planning.
- Operational or Primary Processes – refer to the processes related to the core business which deliver value to the customer such order taking or managing a client account.
- Supporting Processes – refer to the processes that back up / support the core processes such as accounting and human resources, often referred to as back-office processes.
A business process has the following characteristics:
- Scope and boundaries that define which are included and excluded from the start and endpoint of the process
- The purpose or overall objective for the process
- Inputs or sources that identify what needs to be performed
- A series of steps performed by operators in a particular order or sequence
- An expected outcome of the process
- The ‘client’, which can be the end-user or another process
How important is it to establish and document business processes?
You may already have a process developed, but following it repeatedly does not guarantee that breakdowns will not happen along the way. A simple change in a team’s composition with no proper documentation to guide them can be disastrous to a business.
Having a proper process established and documented will provide workers with a reference when executing a task. With this in place, you as a business owner can be rest assured that processes will be executed as expected regardless of who carries out the task.
Having robust processes in place and documented helps a business to:
- Improve efficiency and eliminate duplication of work
- Identify relevant and important tasks related to your business goals
- Streamline communication and enhance transparency within the organization
- Standardise procedures and ensure specialization of work
- Keep track of organisational goals
- Optimise resources
- Identify procedures for improvement/review
Remember to KISS when implementing a business process, make sure that it is simple and easy to understand, has covered all necessary exceptions, is tested and communicated to ensure that everyone understands and are aligned.
Lastly, allow some room for stakeholders to improvise when faced with unfamiliar situations; because in the end, a process that is too restrictive could do the business more harm than good.