Business Process Management has been a popular topic for decades now, with many books published on the subject and a wealth of information out there on the internet. As a discipline, BPM is itself a process - the process of understanding your regular processes, who they are carried out by, why you do them, and how you can improve them, to name just a few aspects.
A myth that we should dispel right away is that the adoption of BPM has to mean a fundamental, large-scale (and risky) overhaul of your business, and all of the interruptions and headaches which you can imagine go with it.
That`s not the case. It can be done in that way, and many large organisations have invested millions in programmes with the ultimate goal of a wholesale change to process and culture, but it needn`t be something which adds to your already busy business life, costs you a fortune, or disrupts your business.
A piecemeal implementation is possible, and here are some examples of two overarching themes behind why you should focus on standardising and automating some of your more regular tasks:
Reason 1 - Mitigate the risks of not doing it!
Risk: Different people, same process?
You know how important your business processes are. Without all of the things you do regularly running well, you don`t have an efficient business. It may be the case that you have a number of people doing the same thing. How can you be sure that they all follow the same process, or have the same ideas of the best way to go about it? Do they do everything in the most efficient order? Do they miss important steps, causing rework? Unless your business processes are well defined, and managed the right way, human error will inevitably creep in.
Risk: Regulatory or Governance issues
In an ever changing regulatory environment, with even more changes anticipated as the UK leaves the EU, can you be sure that your business processes remain compliant? Do your processes record the data needed to evidence compliance with regulations? How easily can you respond to changes in the regulatory environment, and make sure that your teams respond in their day-to-day tasks? Clearly, regulatory breaches can have serious consequences, but you can avoid these by ensuring that your regular business processes are well managed, up to date, and standardised.
Risk: Dropped balls and broken plates
As your business takes on more and more work, the number of regular tasks you undertake increases. In what should be a positive time, the risk creeps in that tasks will start to be forgotten, be incorrectly prioritised, or simply slip under the radar. This can be damaging and costly, but needn`t be the case if tasks and processes are managed in harmony in one system. Traceable tasks are completed tasks!
Having clear, well defined, business processes avoids potential disputes - whether they be about the standard to which tasks are completed, or whether or not critical steps required to serve your clients correctly have been completed. A standard process which captures data on how and when it was carried out gives a good audit trail to help resolve a dispute should it arise, leaving you more time to get on with your business in harmony.
Reason 2 - Realise the opportunities of doing it
Opportunity: Save time, reduce costs
The better a process is organised, and the simpler it is for your people to carry it out, the less time it will take, and the fewer mistakes will be made. Both of these have a positive impact on cost, and lead to an uptick in productivity.
Opportunity: Do more business
Clearly, the more time you have (or, put another way, the less time you spend on regular processes), the more time you have to do what you want to do - grow.
Opportunity: Better workforce management
Using a process management system allows you to easily allocate tasks to your workforce, and monitor their progress. In turn, this gives you insight into workforce performance, and highlights ways that your teams can work together better to increase productivity.
Opportunity: Continuous improvement
Gathering data around the individual steps of your processes allows you to gain deeper insight into the parts of your processes which perform well, and those which could do with improvement. By defining a process once, and retaining the ability to easily revise it later on, you can use this insight to improve the processes over time.
Opportunity: Make your processes more dynamic
A business process can can be both standardised and dynamic. It`s a powerful combination, and a good business process management system will allow for both. Rather than a process being a simple case of "do this, then do that" a good BPM system can alter the flow of a process based on a user response. So during an inspection process, for example, if a problem is found then (and only then) does the process need to prompt the user to capture details or images. Good processes take full advantage of this functionality, and a good BPM system makes it easy!
Opportunity: Link processes together
A good BPM system should allow for the integration of different processes, and the ability for one process to "spin up" a new task when appropriate. So, take a property inspection and an example. In the old way of doing things an inspector might find a problem, make a note of it, take that back to the office, ask someone to arrange for it to be fixed, and all of the ensuing phone calls and arrangements which follow on. In the new automated way, not only are details of the problem captured live, but another job can be instantly created to get the issue fixed straight away, stripping out the admin.
Opportunity: Easier reporting
Imagine trying to report, in granular detail, on manual processes and their performance every month, with no automated data to help you. It would be a complex and frustrating task, probably taking almost as long as the tasks themselves! With a good BPM system you can design, run, and download reports customised to your requirements, in just a few clicks.
These risks and opportunities are examples of common challenges and desired benefits encountered by our clients which led us to develop ClearWAY - our Business Process Management system.
Delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS), ClearWAY doesn`t require apps or installations, just an internet connection. It exists in a secure cloud, and is mobile friendly, so you simply log in whenever you like, wherever you are.