5 Ways to Identify and Optimize Core Business Processes for Sustainable Growth
A good business runs like a clock. Every part is doing its job to deliver accurate time to the observer. Just like a clock, businesses are compromised out of a number of smaller and larger parts which we call processes.
Unlike the clock, some of those parts can be inefficient, yet they will still bring somewhat positive results. But there’s no need to get used to your business working at less than optimal capacity. With only a handful of methods, you can optimize your processes and ensure stable and adequate growth.
The field of business process management grows by billions every couple of years, signaling the importance of this field. Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every business, ways you can find on this list can certainly help you in your entrepreneurial journey.
Business processes explained
A process isn’t a single act that occurred somewhere in the vacuum of the business universe. It’s a set of tasks connected in a meaningful way that ensures that the goals of the company are accomplished. They can be categorized as functional, operational, supporting, or in a plethora of other categories.
Even though you might not be aware of them or you haven’t identified them yet, processes are an essential part of every business. As mentioned earlier, business processes consist of multiple steps or tasks, each having a team or a person responsible for them.
Once a business process is broken down into lesser parts, it’s easier to analyze and improve each of them, resulting in better outcomes. Not all processes are limited to the company itself. Businesses often outsource workers, or agencies that help them with certain operational aspects such as HR, payroll, taxation, or accounting.
5 Ways to identify and optimize processes
Although the topic of business process management has gained popularity recently, the ideas that compose it have been around for decades. There are many more ways of identifying and optimizing processes than these five.
However, they should be enough to help you optimize your business. They range in their complexity and cost of implementation, so you should find the one that suits you the most only after an extensive analysis of your situation.
1. Process mining
For every field, there are specialized tools that help individuals achieve their goals. Since business processes are one of the more abstract concepts, it took time before experts found the best method for their analysis and improvement.
Out of a desire to make businesses function more efficiently, computer scientists and management professionals divided business process mining. This concept utilizes data and process science to help businesses identify, validate, and improve their internal workflows.
This way of process identification and optimization provides fact-based insights and it’s more affordable in the long run. To efficiently implement process mining for your business, you will need adequate and transparent data-collecting practices.
The advantage of process mining is that you don’t have to make changes to your business from top to bottom to efficiently implement it. Instead, this method is applicable to businesses of any size and complexity.
Processes are susceptible to changes due to people involved in them or external circumstances. Regardless of the environment, process mining will help you track your business more efficiently and allow you to make better decisions.
2. Setting business goals
Having a grand plan of your goals is a great way of understanding your direction. On the road to achieving those goals, you will be able to notice tasks and challenges you will have to tackle. Once you understand how they fit in that context, you will be able to focus on them individually.
Conquering a new market, and increasing your sales or your production capacities doesn’t always require a leap of faith. Instead, working on the smaller aspects that lead to those goals will bring more stable and trackable results.
Of course, business goals need to be communicated with stakeholders, and managers, but also with front-line workers. Even though your board of directors knows that the company is focusing on making certain processes better, if employees aren’t aware of that on an individual level, they might not deliver adequate results.
3. Automate processes
People are frightened by the increasing popularity of artificial intelligence because there are mentions of it taking over their jobs. However, instead of being scared of this change, companies and individuals should learn how to utilize AI as a tool.
Automation provides an opportunity for companies and individuals to remove repetitive and dull processes and give them to a “robot” to complete them. So, instead of your HR having to repost a job post on dozens of job boards, a single tool will do that within minutes.
This doesn’t mean that your HR will lose its job, but this will rather allow him to focus on more meaningful and complex tasks such as interviewing candidates. Process automation removes bottlenecks which are commonly caused by human error.
Where AI excels is the possibility of analyzing vast amounts of data and delivering insights to decision-makers. Using this feature, you can increase your company’s ability to identify errors caused manually and streamline them.
4. Test processes upfront
Regardless of how insignificant the change might seem, testing processes upfront can ensure smoother transitions. This method is also a hidden advice for the implementation of other methods from this list.
Instead of jumping to use AI to automatize your processes, try it out in a controlled environment. The worst outcome of testing new technology or processes is that you will lose some time. On the other hand, making a grand change while your business is operating can derail you significantly.
However, processes should be tested at all times. You shouldn’t refrain from occasionally analyzing and testing out established practices. There are always new lessons to be learned, and you might notice some downsides.
Keep in mind that tests are only as accurate as you make them. If you fail to objectively simulate the environment in which the occur, the execution of the real process might not meet your expectations.
5. Use third-party services
As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to have an in-house expert for everything. Of course, having a certain department will bring advantages to your company, but it can sometimes be the cause of setbacks or unnecessary costs. On the other hand, making employees jump from one task to another is a whole set of problems.
Let’s say you’re a startup looking for a new employee. You’re overburdened with your daily operations, and now you have a task that requires full-time effort. However, you aren’t expecting new hires after that one.
Instead of having a recruiter who will make one to two hires on a yearly basis, you should just outsource these efforts. Processes such as accounting, taxes, and compliance should be lent to third-party software.
On the other hand, HR efforts and other unique processes that occur only periodically can easily be outsourced to freelance experts.
Impact of inefficient processes
Since every company consists out of dozens or even hundreds of processes, each of them impacts the overall success of a business. If every one of them is working slower than planned you can suffer lowered income or traffic.
On the other hand, failing to ensure compliance can lead to harsh blows to your business. Failing to comply with international or local data privacy regulation can lower your reputation or lead to serious fines.
Optimizing processes isn’t always about making your business better and quicker. It’s also about mitigating potential risks and problems that can occur further down the road.
Optimized processes are essential for business growth
As satisfied as you are with the current state of your business, you should take the extra step and reap the benefits of optimized processes. Whether you choose a more modern and advanced method such as process mining, or you just make a better business plan, these methods will pave your way to success.
Of course, you shouldn’t risk implementing experimental methods on processes that are operating as planned or ideally. Instead, you should calculate which aspects of your business can bring more benefits for a smaller cost.
Keep in mind that there isn’t a magical solution for poorly designed products and services. Even though you might efficiently implement every one of the mentioned methods, and a couple more, your company could still perform inadequately on the market. This is usually beyond process optimization.
Veljko is a student of information technology that paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He enjoys researching topics such as robotics and programming and cultivates his knowledge in philosophy, classical literature, and fitness. Veljko’s favorite writers are Borislav Pekić, Miloš Crnjanski, and Ernest Hemingway.