Business processes are a sequence of steps that need to be executed to achieve a specific goal within an organization. But how should they be described?
In this article, we will explore when and how they should be described.
Why describe business processes?
- Clear understanding:
It helps employees grasp the organization’s work and the steps toward goal achievement. This makes the process more transparent and assists employees in better orienting themselves in their tasks.
- Enhancement of efficiency:
A company can identify and eliminate unnecessary operations, excessive resource expenditures, and time wastage, as well as optimize the sequence of actions. This aids in elevating the overall productivity of the company, reducing costs, and achieving more effective outcomes.
- Establishment of control:
It aids the company in monitoring and measuring results to track progress and take measures to enhance processes if they deviate from values. Ultimately, this assists the company in being more adaptive to changes in the external environment and attaining its long-term goals while meeting customer needs.
- Swift optimization:
It provides the opportunity to identify errors and rectify them even before they can impact the quality of work.
- Training and knowledge transfer:
Structured and detailed descriptions of business processes facilitate the adaptation of new employees, allowing them to quickly familiarize themselves with their roles and understand how their responsibilities are interconnected with the work of other employees. This also helps in cases where it’s necessary to replace or delegate responsibilities among employees.
Types of Business Processes
Before you start describing business processes, it’s important to know their types and classifications in order to do it more effectively.
There are several classifications, but the most common business processes can be divided into 3 groups:
- Core Processes:
These are the key processes within a company that generate profits. They include production, marketing, sales, and customer service.
- Support Processes:
These processes help your business operate smoothly and efficiently. They are not directly related to product creation or service provision but are necessary to support core processes. For example, people management, finance (accounting), information technology (computers, software), procurement (purchasing necessary materials and equipment), and supply chain management (supply control and logistics).
- Management Processes:
These processes are related to decision-making and planning at a higher level. They aid in managing the business and achieving strategic goals. They encompass activities such as developing business development strategies, budget planning, task performance monitoring, change management, and results evaluation.
It’s important to remember that all these processes are interconnected and influence one another.
When should processes be described?
Companies typically need to describe their processes for 3 main reasons:
- Optimizing existing processes:
When a business is already established, documentation can help identify weak points with potential for improvement. Analyzing all processes allows for identifying unnecessary steps, bottlenecks, minor tasks, and other areas that can be optimized to enhance efficiency.
- Implementing new systems:
When integrating systems or technologies, changes to business processes may be required. This helps understand how the implementation of new systems will impact current operations and what changes need to be made for successful integration.
- Employee training:
It’s also important to mention that this is useful when training new employees or implementing new procedures within the organization. With clear documentation, new employees find it much easier to understand how to perform their duties accurately, contributing to consistency and coherence in task execution.
How to Describe Processes?
- Defining Objectives
First and foremost, jot down all the functions performed in the business. It’s important to consider all key tasks necessary to achieve business goals. Then, categorize these functions into three categories: core, support, and management processes. This way, it will become clear which processes are important and require special attention.
- Listing Tasks
For each process, create an action plan detailing specific steps (tasks) that will contribute to the successful achievement of goals. Take into account the sequence of actions and the interrelation between different tasks. This approach brings clarity and identifies optimization opportunities.
To help with this, task division into checklists in services like Notion, Trello, and Jira can be beneficial.
Structuring is essential for better understanding and management of processes. Build a hierarchy where core processes are at the top and sub-processes and tasks are beneath. Then establish connections between various processes and sub-processes to illustrate the flow of data, information, and resources among them. Develop a structure that clearly presents the hierarchy and logic of business process execution.
Services like Enterprise Architect, ArchiMate, and BizzDesign can assist with this.
- Visualizing Processes
Once the process structure is assembled, it can be visualized as a flowchart. You can describe this using mind-mapping tools such as Miro, Mindmeister, and Xmind. Additionally, employ diagrams and graphs to visually represent the structure and sequence of processes.
It’s important to recognize that describing and improving business processes requires a systematic approach and a clear understanding of the company’s current operations. However, this approach can ultimately free up time to focus on other crucial matters while achieving 100% reliability in task execution.