Companies, big and small, are always on the search for ways to get their businesses into metaphorical Olympic swimmer shape. A lot of blog gurus talk about getting your business to be the most productive it can be through hacks, tips, advice, stretching your legs every ten minutes… we’ve all read the posts. Today let’s go back to the textbooks and talk about one of the original hacks, the business process management (BPM).
Now even the smallest of companies, consisting of even a single person, all have business processes. But these processes are so easy to manage in a small team/business that the managing comes second nature because the big picture is still very manageable. As the business grows, employees get more responsibilities, more people get involved and the micromanaging of the processes becomes nearly impossible. Overtime other managers come in to assist with the leadership and management of the department, but often employees get shared between departments and the once rock solid business process that existed when the company was small is now sluggish and hasn’t seen the gym in some time.
This is where BPM gets so important, you see, normal business processes aren’t managed, there is an expected goal, but the process of reaching said goal is haphazard at times. BPM is a system that gets a hold of all of the current processes in the business and gets them into order. Aiim.org adds from their article.
“The term business process management covers how we study, identify, change, and monitor business processes to ensure they run smoothly and can be improved over time. Often framed in terms of the daily flow of work – and yes, “workflow” generally does fit under the process improvement umbrella – it is an important piece of the access and use puzzle since no or poor process really degrades your ability to get at and leverage information.”
The results are that a company that is more organized and most importantly more productive. However, all too often, BPM does it not work, or it falls off the tracks, further down I discuss using a task manager like Runrun.it to better support your business process as a solution to this.
Why implement BPM?
As we touched on a bit above installing BPM can save a company lots of money and even time, but Business process management isn’t all about increasing the bottom line, there are many residual effects that companies can benefit from.
We’ve all heard it before, you send an email to an employee asking him/her to do something, only to come around at the end of the day to hear “oh I didn’t think you meant today”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that our team member is a lazy person, maybe he really was busy. Implementing BPM practices increases the responsibility of the people involved in the processes. This means that both, managers and employees have a pipeline they follow to get things done. For example, lets say after BPM is installed, instead of sending the request to an employee in the company, the process leads the requests to his/her manager. For the manager to hand to the employee as he/she sees fit in the workflow of the employee. This effectively increases communication between teams as well as increasing responsibility for the employee who possibly puts off doing a task, and another manager who simply dumps a project onto an employee without checking with his/her current workload.
Have you ever needed to get something done within a small timeframe that requires various teams abilities and resources? Then you know that this is a daunting feat. To get everyone on the same page through meetings, memos, and whatnot is a challenge in itself. What is worse is that all of this takes up the resource that is sometimes the most sensitive, time. Leading to delayed finish times before the time sensitive project even began. Having a proper business process in the company allows for a lot of these stressors to be eliminated. Opening up the communication processes throughout the teams means that whatever needs to get done will get done much quicker.
Cut off the unnecessary fat (Reduce costs)
Having accounting departments just going into the hard numbers looking for areas to cut back doesn’t always work, especially when you want to be the most productive business you can be. BPM offers a new solution that cuts down on waste. Alex from Buisness.com sheds a bit more light on to this topic ” Once a process becomes more efficient, BPM can then be used to make that process more effective. Among the many benefits of greater process effectiveness are the ability to handle exceptions faster and better, the ability to make better, more informed decisions, and the ability to execute consistently… When all processes are running effectively and are aligned with corporate strategies and objectives, companies become more profitable and more competitive.”
Lessen Stress on overworked employees
Employees are under more stress now more than ever, some employees are getting bombarded with demands from various departments with each manager demanding that what they need to be done gets done first. Forcing employees to do whatever they can to keep up with these demands pushing out, more often than not, mediocre work. Regardless of if the demand was really a priority or not. Implementing BPM creates processes that also alleviates the stress from employees having to juggle many processes all at once. Business process management can set up processes where priorities are streamlined and done in the order in which they truely should be.
Increase customer response times and satisfaction
Normally in the customer service sections of companies, it can be considered a free-for-all. Customers calling for every reason under the sun but always falling into the laps of sometimes underqualified representatives. Applying business process management works wonders here as well. For example instead of having one big equally, trained customer service team all acting as jacks of all trades, running around for answers each time a question they aren’t prepared for appears. Separate the customer service department into teams and leading processes into them works much better. Let me give you a real life example of how this works. Think of the last time you called a company, UGH! You got that robot, press 1 for billing, 2 for technical support, etc. That robot is actually you entering the business process selecting what team you think best suits your problem. Customers reaching the customer service teams that closely matches their needs much quicker gives higher satisfaction ratings for customers and ultimately more business for the company.
>> Check this out: How to choose the best project manager
How to Implement BPM in your company
“Well, would you look at that. Business process management seems to be a pretty powerful tool. I want that in my company right now!” Well hold on there cowboy there are many things we have to look at and consider before we begin to implement this. It’s more difficult that it sounds.
Before getting into heavy BPM implementation managers must first assess what they want to improve by doing it. In order to answer that question, one must look at the company and ask what type of company are we? BPM works differently based on what type of organization it is working inside of. Is BPM being used to assist in customer success? Is the company a process based organization i.e. Projects, factory, construction? How your organization is set up will help further design your workflows once you begin creating your processes. In addition to that, as a business leader or manager what is the result we want and how are we getting to our current result (the current process however flawed it may be)
- What triggers workflow?
When starting to build business processes the most important part is to figure out what causes the workflow to begin? This could be literally anything from a lion leaving its pen at the zoo or a bug appearing on a server. Taking a look back at my customer service example, what triggered the workflow in this case is a human calling into the customer service department. Now the human has entered into the processes and will be lead to one of three different processes to be assisted in the best way possible. At this point all processes get to working based off this trigger event.
- What processes should the workflow include?
After finding out your event triggers, we have to set where we want each process to go. Let’s go back to my customer service example. Say we have a customer calling for some tech support. [Process began] it lands in the customer service workflow and it starts processes in customer service possibly moving deeper if needed. If not and the representative can handle the problem alone the process loops back and ends there. There isn’t any time wasted going through other areas which wouldn’t be able to help in this section i.e. transfer to a manager. We saw what triggered the process, and what the processes were after the event trigger.
- Who will carry out what task and who should the tasks be transferred to?
What is possibly the most important part of BPM would be who is going to carry out what tasks. Going back to my customer example one last time, let’s get wild and say the customer has a question that requires a bit more assistance from somewhere deeper In the tech department. This means that now the representative has to follow the next process, which would be transfer problem to an IT representative, and he or she begins their processes to fulfil the request. Without trying to sound too much like a textbook, you can see how important it is to link each and every process to a person so that every part of the process chain has a tangible grade that can be adjusted if need be.
BPM is not a one and done situation
While you’ll find that many authors write about using BPM in a project. It is not a system of project management. BPM is normally tested within a project and can be supported by a project manager but the processes proven to work well in the system should be reflected into the business indefinitely. At its creation it is far from perfect and needs to be constantly improved, thus the term Business process improvement (BPI).
Getting staff trained and on board
Now that you have the process input into the company, the employees are automatically going to use it right? Wrong, these systems are complex and a quick memo in the ole inbox just isn’t going to do it. If you want to get those decreases in spending and wasted time then companies have to invest in proper training of the system. People get accustomed to the ways things are, if you talk about processes and making more money they will just think you are greedy.
“We are creatures of habit and by nature we tend to resist change. When creating a new business strategy, it is essential to consider the existing procedures, rules and workforce that are involved. Successful execution of BPM operations requires everyone from executives to team members understand the strategy. If the operational activities and tasks are not aligned with the strategy, the BPM implementation will fail. It is essential the organizational goals be communicated to the entire workforce so that everyone is on the same page.” Daphne says in her post
In the end it’s all about more organization there are a few ways to get people trained and onboard for success with a BPM system, let’s talk about a few.
- BPM Certification
A good way to go about getting everyone on the same page is going through a BPM certification process. Many companies opt to go with a BPM program that they put into the system to mainstream all of the processes. More often than not these BPM companies come with a course that allows for employees to get officially trained and in the end receive a certification stating they know the new processes. Though individual training for each employee is a great way to get everyone onboard, it does come with a few cons as well. Sometimes these courses can be expensive for individual training of the system. However, in addition to that there is a risk that employees may not use the system being reluctant to change.
- Responsible BPM trainers
Another method of training employees to use BPM properly is to assign responsible BPM trainers. These usually come in the form of team leaders and managers. Not only can these positions coach proper usage of the processes and why they are important to the company / your position. They can help ensure that the proper processes are being used for each situation that rises.
>> Recommended readings: Cost Control: Stopping the Holes in a Leaky Business Boat
Produce list of goals and show the path to achieving them
Why is the company doing this? As stated above the only way business process management works is to get everyone on board with the program. But how do we make employees understand that it’s not just another few annoying loops they have to go through? Leaders of the company must lay out exactly how this is to help the company. Is it to help with risk management? Reduce costs? Increase customer service ratings? All of the above? All of this information needs to be laid out to the employee. “For goals to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees, they must be tied to larger organizational ambitions. Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged.” Says Amy from the Harvard business review.
In addition to this leaders should communicate how the company plans to achieve these goals, and what team members can do to achieve their part. “Once a goal is set, ask your employee to explain how he plans to meet it. Have him break goals down into tasks and set interim objectives, especially if it’s a large or long-term project.” Amy adds. BPM starts by having everyone on board, and using the methodology set by the company.
Are you able to utilize everything that BPM promises?
On paper BPM seems pretty easy to get into action, the results should be coming out shortly after getting the engine started up! But many times these processes fall out of place. Someone always cuts a corner here or there and the system gets damaged slowly over time. Before you know it you are back to where you started since before you had the system. Implementing Runrun.it alongside your BPM system offers great support to the program.
With Runrun.it you can streamline project and tasks laying out everything that needs to be done. Allowing managers to see how long each task is taking, what tasks are next in line to be done. And live updates on the progress of a project. Best of all everyone is in the system constantly sending updates to managers, and co-workers pushing productivity, and driving down costs.
Runrun.it the backbone of business process management
Meet Runrun.it – the tool that dispenses email for internal communication because it centralizes the tasks of all teams and reduces the number of follow-up meetings and the friction between leaders and teams by producing automatic activity reports. Try it free here.