Planning for Growth with Business Processes Management
What is a business process?
At the ERA of digital disruption, Organizations need to operate with a structured approach to identify points for improvement, embrace change and seamlessly monitor activities. The structured and often chained set of actions or activities that a man or a machine should execute towards accomplishing a particular output, refer to what is literally called a “Business Process” firstly noted back in 1776 by the Economist, Adam Smith. Translating this from theory to practice, business processes define how a company runs, how works get done, as such are closely related with the performance output.
There’s also significant difference between processes and projects, even though both are executed by individuals (lately some processes run by robots), projects have definite time (start/mid/end) following network diagrams, while processes may be executed indefinitely following certain flow diagram representations.
Picture: Process flow diagram (Workflow) with Comidor
For each company, it is primarily needed to identify the processes which their output have significant impact on the firm’s competiveness continuation. In other words, there are some set of activities that create highly important added value, such as Customer Service procedures for instance. Bringing in mind two close competitors, small things can make huge difference, especially when it has to do with client/ human interaction. The better the design, orchestration and automation of the mechanism that secures customer’s satisfaction, the better the chances for the client to remain loyal to the brand.
At this point, let’s identify the 3 main categories of business processes within an organization:
1) Operational (or Primary Business) Processes
These are the processes that create value added to business (sales, marketing, production, warehouse) specifying the set of activities followed by the company to produce, deliver, support customers. This is what makes customers willing to paying recognizing this value addition, according to Andy Hale
2) Supporting (or Secondary) Processes
These are the processes which although do not create value added to customers directly, they are crucial for the growth and development of the organization (i.e. Accounting methodology, HR procedures, Health & Safety measures, etc)
3) Management Processes
These processes are the vehicle for collecting information, measuring performance, monitoring and controlling business activities (i.e. internal communications, strategic planning, budgeting, etc)
How to bring value to your business with Business Process Management
Having clearly distinguished the main business process types, we’d better pay attention to Gartner’s Research Director, John Dixon, underlining the significant value that Business Process Management (BPM) systems bring into organizations, pointing five BPM pitfalls to avoid:
Pitfall No 1: Always start with an understanding of how success/ outcome will be measured
Pitfall No 2: There has to be management (BPM) discipline, because it is mostly related fundamentally about changes on how people work
Pitfall No 3: Rely on facts and data, not to human reactions
Pitfall No 4: Balance realistically what can be achieved over time, and how ROI will be communicated upwards
Pitfall No 5: Create clear Process Mapping, based on which processes will be improved.
Conclusively, we’d better forget about systems and technology, unless there is strong will to establish culture behaviors that serve to the create patterns, which later on will be systemically monitored as BPM disciplines. In the past 14 years I was lucky enough to be part of management schemes with different international business run models, contributing to growth following the king rule of simplification, realizing the importance of complexity reduction in all steps from planning to delivery of work.
This is how things can be done repeatedly successful, safely.