June 10, 2020

6 Steps to Analysing a Business

Data Analysis Methods
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Any business leader needs to take stock of how their business is running. Analysing a business can be done using a variety of methods. Ultimately, no matter what way you subscribe to trying, the point is to ensure that business processes are working towards achieving your business goals. With any method, the incorporation of automation will prove to be a core solution. 

Here, we will look at what business process analysis means, the process analysis technique and various methods you can put into practice.

What is Business Process Analysis? 

Business process analysis is used to gauge the health and status of business operations to make them more efficient. With business process analysis, you will be able to find where gaps or inefficiencies reside and implement solutions to overcome challenges. 

Business process analysis may be easy to confuse with business analysis. The difference is that BPA relies on data and is used to make alterations to core business processes. The business analysis identifies broader problems or needs within an organisation to address them. 

You can use business process analysis on current, “as is” processes to help make better business decisions. 


Process Analysis Techniques

To apply business process analysis, follow these steps: 

1. Identify the process 

It’s evident that if you want to analyse a process, you have first to choose the method that you will assess. But, where do you start in a business that may have dozens or hundreds of processes? The best way to begin is to choose a method that is directly associated with delivering business goals and are of high value. 

Here’s one way to find out which processes fit the bill, according to Pete Drucker’s five questions:

a. What is the mission? A process is implemented to achieve the purpose of your business. While processes change, your task doesn’t. Revisit what your company’s goal is and then list the methods that are integral to realising your business’ purpose. 

b. Who is the client? The client is not only your customer but also your shareholders. List out all the processes that are essential to delivering results (and promises you make) to your end-user and stakeholders. 

c. What does the customer value? You can conduct market research to discover what your customers care about. 

d. What are our metrics? Outline your key performance indicators (KPIs) that you use to measure the success of any process you run. This way, you can quickly get a feel for what is and what is not working in your favour. 

e. What’s our plan? Narrow down your list of processes to about 4 or 5 that have the most impact on your business. These should represent the actions your team takes to deliver business goals (i.e. products or services to the customers and dividends to shareholders). 

2. Establish the team

Business process analysis is a group activity. The best people to include are those who work directly with the process daily. You can set a meeting to brainstorm ideas or interview employees to see what works and what doesn’t. If you have a large organisation, it may be hard to choose who is necessary to include on this team. Try to focus on those who:

  • Are leaders related to the process
  • Support the process from top management and support the team in charge
  • Employees who do the work daily and have a high stake in what the process looks like
  • Employees who show a positive attitude and are open to making changes that will improve the business 

3. Create a flowchart

It’s possible to define the process and list out the steps in sequential order. However, there is a business process analysis tool known as a flowchart that uses standardised notation and can serve as a visual representation of the process. A flowchart is one of the first and most straightforward steps to help identify bottlenecks or problems with a current process. For more on how to create your flowchart, check out this guide. Once you have a flowchart that depicts a process, you can leverage an automation tool (like SolveXia) to carry out the process. 

4. Define the “As is” Process

It may be tempting to define the process as you’d like it to be or to ignore the issues with it. However, the main point of business process analysis is to see how things are and then assess how to make them better. To do this, you must define the “as is” process. You can do this by:

a. Interviewing:  Talk to the people who are responsible at each step along the process to find out more information on what’s working and what’s causing problems. 

b. Analyse the process model: Look at each step of the process in regards to handoffs, customer interactions, and the systems and teams in place. Then, highlight any bottlenecks or inefficiencies. 

c. Documentation: Be sure to document everything in this step so that you can refer back to it when you improve the process and check-in if it was actually for the better. 

d. Specify Improvement Points 

Points for improvement generally fall into these categories: 

a. Customer interaction: you want to perfect these moments above all else because they drive all the value for your business 

b. Added value: some activities have a significant impact on increasing perceived value. 

c. Handoffs: the exchange of information or tasks between departments and people must be optimised to avoid anything slipping through the cracks/delays 

d. Business rules: the rules that dictate how processes should run within an organisation 

e. Bottlenecks: do whatever is necessary to avoid bottlenecks (Data automation tools can significantly relieve this. A data automation tool will run a process for you. When you have a software system taking care of each step along a chain of events, it relieves the risk of the process being stopped by human error or something falling through the cracks along the way. It also removes critical man dependency by having identified steps in the automation system). 

5. Model the Process “To Be”

The final step is to outline how you’d like to make changes to the process so you can design the “to be” process. You can leverage a flowchart to do so or take it one step further and map out the process with a data automation tool. Implementing a data automation tool to execute processes offers many benefits. Some of these benefits include: 

  • Reducing critical person dependencies (as the software system carries out each step of the process itself)
  • Lowering costs (as you can maximise output and minimise the need for human resources that must work overtime)
  • Decreasing human errors (it’s automatic!)
  • Freeing up staff time removing low-value manual tasks and enabling them to do more high-value analytical tasks. 

It also has audit trails to increase compliance measures significantly.

6. Analysing a Business

Analysing a business through business process analysis takes into account both internal and external situations. From the controllable operations to the less manageable government regulations and outside factors, here’s how you can approach the process of analysing a business for various concerns: 

  • Customer Research: The best companies are those that meet their customers’ needs. To ensure you’re doing this, you’ll want to ask your customers for feedback in the form of surveys or reviews. You’ll also want to check that you deliver what you promise. 
  • Monitoring Product Quality: Your engineering team should always quality assure (QA) products to make sure they meet industry standards. You can also benchmark your products or services by comparing your deliverables to your stronger competitor. 
  • Labour Analysis: Labour costs often tend to be the most significant expenditure, especially for small businesses. You can evaluate management teams and do your best to stick to budgets. One way to significantly reduce labour costs without affecting efficiency is by leveraging technological tools like a data automation software solution to help manage repetitive and low-level tasks. This way, you can make sure your team isn’t bogged down on monotonous tasks and wasting time. Instead, they can focus on high-level activities. 
  • Financial Analysis: Naturally, you’ll need to keep a close eye on a business’ finances to keep the doors open. Forecasts and data analytics tools can give you real-time access to your business’ financial health at any time. You will want to ensure that earnings are real, there’s adequate cash flow, you’re not overpaying, and you’re on track to deliver dividends to shareholders. 


How to Be an Effective Business Analyst 

Here’s an 8-step method to effectively analyse a business as a business process analyst: 

1. Get organised: Before diving right into process analysis, clarify your role and objectives. Determine the stakeholders and take a look back at the process’ history. It’s essential to understand how a method came to be as is before jumping into its assessment. 

2. Discover the objectives: Be sure to take note of: 

- Task descriptions within the process 

- Established business rules 

- Exceptions to the rules 

- Entry criteria and inputs

- Exit criteria and outputs

- Review the process flow diagram

2. Define scope: This step ensures that everyone is on the same page as to what the business needs are and how they can contribute. Understand the range in terms of technological implementation, budgets and employees’ abilities. 

3. Formulate your plan: Decide on the methodology that will be used to perform your analysis. You can also define who will be involved in the process improvement and estimate a timeline. 

4. Dive into details: Move more in-depth into the plan by outlining specifics, including requirements and implementation steps. 

5. Implement technology: Most process analysts will rely on technological solutions along their journey towards process improvement. To do this properly, you’ll want to make sure that the answer is within the scope from a cost standpoint and training point of view. You’ll have to test the technology to make sure it does what is intended and be around to offer support to the team during implementation. 

6. Implement changes: Create a plan to implement your process improvement changes. This will require training and time. It will also be necessary to document the new processes such that anyone in the organisation has access to refer back to the process flowchart for reference. When you choose to implement changes in the form of automation solutions, you can prevent many issues down the line. Automation software is made to be simple for any team member to use (without the need for IT to set it up, or maintain it) and it also inherently stands as an organisation-wide way to standardise processes. 

7. Assess value: Evaluate the progress and changes made by reviewing KPIs and data. Communicate these results to internal and external stakeholders. Continue to implement process improvement and continuously assess how operations are running. With automation, you can connect all your data systems and rely on live data and reports and set up alerts to always be aware of any risks and opportunities throughout the business. These reports can be programmed to be sent automatically to key stakeholders or business owners. In this way, there’s never an excuse as to why someone isn’t looped into the current workings of their business. 

Methods for Analysing a Business

There are a variety of methods for analysing a business to choose from. Here’s a list of some standard methodologies to consider: 

1. PESTLE: A look at how external factors affect processes. PESTLE stands for: Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental. 

2. CATWOE: CATWOE focuses on business goals. It stands for: Clients, Actors, Transformation, World View, Owner, Environmental Constraints. 

3. Non-functional Requirement: This technique is used when technology is changed. For example, if a company adopts new technology and moves a legacy system to a modern application. It helps to analyse requirements like performance, reliability, logging and security. 

4. MOST: Most is a standard look at what a company stands for and how it works. MOST is an acronym for Mission, Objective, Strategy, Tactics. 

5. SWOT: SWOT analysis is a thorough analysis that incorporates internal and external factors, spanning an organisation’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. 

6. Brainstorming: Most businesses use brainstorming at some point to come up with creative ideas to solve for any problems. 

7. Requirement Analysis: When a proposed solution is introduced within an organisation, requirement analysis checks its feasibility. It’s informal, but it takes a look at; questions, interpretations, workshops and captures if a project will achieve its goals for stakeholders. 

8. User Stories: For agile organisations, you can leverage user stories (end users reviews) to assess the best solution. 

The Evolution of Analysing a Business

With advances in technology and data solutions, analysing a business continues to evolve. While it takes a strategic problem-solver to conduct a business analysis effectively, the help of automation solutions like SolveXia can provide real-time analytics as it connects to all your data systems. This is through transparent processes and mapping makes all analysis clearer, more accurate and error-free. You can also use data automation solutions to test new “to be” processes before implementing them across your organisation. 

Automated software solutions help to achieve process improvement and automate specific tasks that maximise efficiency. Solutions like SolveXia can also provide real-time analytics and insights to help reduce waste and alleviate bottlenecks. 

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