All businesses operate based on their processes. However, the notion of processes tends to be one of those things that many people understand but may have a hard time defining or implementing adequately. For anyone in business who has questioned, “What are processes?” and want to understand their importance, this guide will answer all the questions - from the simple to the complex.
We’ll denote what a process is, share examples of processes and ways in which you can create an ideal and optimal process.
Alright, let’s get to it!
According to the dictionary, a process is defined as “a systematic series of actions directed to some end.” In any setting, a process is a set of steps that are followed to complete work. This means that a process is a series of tasks that creates an output from a compilation of inputs.
In business, each step within the series is attributed to a person or team to complete. With each responsibility, the individual or team is to achieve a goal that will lead the process to the next step. A process serves as the fundamental building block of operations and is what allows for business process management, automation and process improvement.
In any process, measurement is a crucial factor. From the ability to measure information/data to the measurement of output/results, you can find ways to calculate the value of a process. This helps businesses to achieve operational effectiveness.
To fully understand what processes are, they are made up of four key elements:
The first definition of a business process came from economist Adam Smith. In 1776, he broke down the business process of an imaginary pin factory. He described how 18 people worked together to make one pin.
In his method of describing this process, he found that the sheer act of breaking it down to each step and assigning tasks to specialists along the way could boost productivity by 24,000%.
Any size organisation can benefit from business processes. In large organisations, mainly, they are used to standardise and streamline activity. But, the benefits of business processes don’t end there.
Business processes also help to:
Processes can be grouped into categories based on their purpose for existing. The three main types of processes that businesses implement are:
Since many people play a role in all three types of processes, it helps a business to record its processes well. This way, anyone who works in the company can follow the rules and way business is done.
This generally comes in the form of what’s called a standard operating procedure (SOP) document. An SOP may contain:
It’s most common for government agencies and enterprises to create standard operating procedures. In tandem, businesses may develop flowcharts or visual representations of processes. These end up helping to find gaps and holes in processes so that process improvement can be implemented.
To fully answer the question, “what are processes?” we will want to take a look at how processes can create solutions. Defining a process involves the documentation of the process, which leads to error prevention and improved efficiency.
To depict, in Atul Gawande’s novel The Checklist Manifesto, he shows how much processes within a hospital improved just because of the creation of a checklist. 78% of staff surveyed after the list was created said they saw how the checklist prevented an error.
Defining processes can, in some cases, be the difference between life and death for an organisation. While not all businesses operate under such severe conditions, they still want to optimise outputs and reduce costs by allocating resources appropriately. Processes help to achieve these goals.
In today’s world, the use of automation for processes is no longer just meant for the manufacturing sector. Businesses are relying on data automation software systems to map out their processes and run their operations as efficiently as possible.
These tools process mapping, provide a clear framework for the finance teamwork within, providing a clear audit trail to improve compliance, reduce critical man dependency, removes bottlenecks, and enables live data analytics as it connects to all data systems. They have also been created to be affordable, easy-to-implement, manage and setup and are also accessible and intuitive to all staff. If you are still not sure what are processes or how they can help, here are some extra benefits for incorporating data automation software into your business process. It will aid in:
How do you make sure that you are building a process in the best way? You can follow these steps that define the process lifecycle.
1. Define your goals: First, describe the purpose of creating the process. Also, be sure to decide how you’ll know if it’s successful or not (define your key performance indicators or KPIs)
2. Map your process: Make a broad blueprint of how you’ll achieve your business goals.
3. Allocation: Identify each task along the way and be sure to allocate the necessary human resources and tools that are needed to make each step happen.
4. Test the process: On a small scale, run the process to test how it performs. If you notice any holes or issues, adjust the process to resolve them.
5. Implement the process: Now, get the process going in the live environment of your business. Be sure you have trained all stakeholders and implemented the necessary automation tools to make the process flow smoothly.
6. Monitor the results: Take time to review how the process went. Write and record the inputs and outputs. This way, when you need to make adjustments, you’ll have a process history to refer back to if necessary.
7. Repeat: When your process is in good standing, replicate it over and over to continue achieving your desired results.
At some point or another, you’ll likely have to enact the process of onboarding employees for your business. The goal is for this process to run as smoothly and quickly as possible so that your new hire can be up and running.
There are obvious costs associated with hiring a new employee, like their salary and benefits. But, you’ll also have to consider the costs associated with training and setting up software systems with a new user. Here’s a look at how you can set up the onboarding process:
The best processes consist of these attributes:
Processes are what allows organisations to create value for both their internal and external stakeholders. They are the steps that take resources, apply actions and transform them into a product or service. To maximise efficiency within any organisation, it’s useful to implement data automation software to manage processes. In this way, your team can focus on the high-value tasks of processes, like focusing on analytics, working with customers and making decisions.
Having a clear understanding of what processes are and being able to implement them correctly will reduce errors and maximise value. The best processes are performed in the least amount of time possible with limited wasted resources. Data automation tools also provide the data and analytics that can be used to assess processes to make them better!
The order to cash process is what keeps money flowing into your business. Check out these best practices and how you can utilize automation.
Considering tools for continuous improvement and looking to know what will work best? Look at this guide for how to make change happen.