Flawless Business Process Analysis (in 7 Simple Steps)
How to Start Optimizing Business Workflows in 7 Easy Steps
Improving efficiency across your organization comes down to understanding what processes you have in place and how you can improve them. However, mapping out how your business functions and finding weaknesses isn’t straightforward.
Luckily, business process analysis can help you identify areas of improvement so you can scale your systems and business.
Every business has processes in place. The larger the business, the more interconnected these processes are. Still, most businesses don’t take the time to reflect on their processes. As a result, they tend to have multiple inefficiencies systems that create waste and slow their business down.
What Is a Business Process?
A business process is a series of steps taken to get something done. Processes follow a series of steps and create some kind of value for the business. If the steps or the people that manage the process do not perform at levels required for success, the business can struggle.
What Is Business Process Analysis?
Business process analysis is a strategy used to improve organizational performance. It starts with breaking down the steps of the process and looking for inefficiencies. And it ends with a process improvement strategy designed to streamline existing workflows.
During a business process analysis, a team member or consultant will break down a process into its individual components. They will map out the workflow in detail. And they offer suggestions for improvement that are in line with business goals and message.
What Is Business Process Modeling?
Business process modeling is the act of creating a visual representation of your organization’s workflows to map out process optimizations.
You can do this in many ways: flow charts and diagrams work best. But, it’s also possible to use a whiteboard, post-it notes, or simple pen and paper. Keep in mind though, that workflow mapping software tends to work best.
You'll map two different versions of your processes. You’ll map out the first business process model as you research your workflows. And you’ll create a second map that illustrates your ideal state after your process improvements.
How to Analyze a Business Process (7 Steps)
Analyzing a business process is relatively simple as long as you follow a series of steps. It’s important not to cut corners when reviewing processes. Any missed step could multiply inefficiencies later on when you deploy a new solution.
Here’s how to carry out business process analysis:
1. List Business Requirements and Objectives
Business process analysis should start with the final objective in mind. Every business has different goals. Your processes need to be aligned with these goals, no matter the type or size of your organization.
Before beginning any optimization of your business processes, you need to list out goals and rank them according to their importance. You should also look to see where they’re connected and how various processes impact those goals.
Every organization also has rules and guidelines that must be followed. You should note these as you map out your workflows. This will provide guardrails for your process improvements later on.
Understanding those connections will help you map out the processes, giving you a better understanding of how each workflow influences the desired end result.
2. Identify Every Business Process
Mapping out your organization’s processes is essential to helping you gain a better understanding of them. You cannot start optimizing processes until you understand how they’re all connected in the system. This will help you know how to best go about your process improvement and get you the desired results faster.
Together with the business objectives, this stage creates a framework for all further business process analysis. And the quality of this stage influences the final results of the analysis immensely.
As a result, it must be done with close attention to detail. It should not be rushed. Instead, take as much time as needed to fully understand how your business functions and where the inefficiencies are.
Remember: It is very important to make connections between your processes and business objectives before moving on. This will help you better prioritize which workflows should be addressed first.
Once you finish process mapping, you should finalize the large-scale map of processes within the organization before continuing. You want to make sure your process map is as accurate as possible.
3. Investigate the Steps of Each Process
Listing all process steps within the framework established during the previous stages helps complete the big picture. This stage finalizes the initial research and is fundamental for effective analysis as you work toward process optimization.
At this stage, you will be getting into even more detail. It is important to list any direct connections to your processes and the effects of each process’s steps on other processes and objectives. These connections will be instrumental in the subsequent analysis stage.
Mapping all this out manually can be time-consuming and challenging, but it is essential to know how interconnected your processes are before attempting any type of process improvement. Failing to do this could result in broken systems that ruin your ROI and create more problems.
4. Document Ongoing Cases
After building a clear framework for your workflows, you need to check your work by documenting ongoing cases. This stage is essentially a test flight of the process map you created.
To ensure your process map is correct, it’s best to use 2-3 ongoing processes and map them against your findings. This will help you better see the workflows in action and underscore the accuracy of your research.
It’s also a great opportunity to focus on the minutiae. Often, people tend to skip over small steps when mapping out workflows. It’s easy to assume that actions are “understood” by all parties.
But even something that’s as innocuous as, “the employee walks the invoice over to the manager for approval” is a critical step that should not be missed.
All actions should be accounted for in each workflow. Take the time to document ongoing cases and evaluate the accuracy of your process map.
5. Analyze Processes and Make Conclusions
This is the most critical stage of business process analysis. However, if you’ve followed all the steps carefully up to this point, you’ve completed a majority of the work. You’ll have an accurate process map that’s detailed and paints a clear picture of how your organization functions.
You’ll also be able to quickly identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, redundancies, and processes that do not support your business goals. As you analyze your business processes, you’ll begin to see where to prioritize your efforts.
6. Suggest Process Improvements
Your detailed analysis should lead to a precise set of actions that highlight areas of improvement in relevant processes. A good practice is to rank the proposals according to RICE framework:
- Reach: How many customers will the initiative impact?
- Impact: How much closer will the initiative move the needle to the objectives of your business?
- Confidence: How certain are you that this initiative will be successful?
- Effort: How much will your business need to invest to improve this process?
The improvements with the strongest level of confidence that require the lowest effort and offer the highest reach and impact are the ones you should focus on first. And with these details mapped out, it’ll be easier to communicate this to the rest of your organization.
7. Facilitate Buy-in and Adoption
Plans aren’t worth the time spent making them without effective execution. Any initiative introduction depends on management buy-in. Usually, the decision-makers do their job based on facts and numbers.
This is where the ranking of initiatives based on RICE framework comes in handy. However, the quality of initiatives’ adoption depends only on the buy-in of lower echelons.
The business process analyst’s role, in this case, extends to becoming the champion, showman, locomotive, and salesman of these future initiatives.
Frontline management and their teams usually represent the group most reluctant to accept changes. Onboarding them is a big task and requires a combination of psychology, presentation, and persuasion skills.
The stages described above are a generalization based on our experience. Naturally, there are different situations and factors influencing the business process analysis approach.
Still, the constant through any business process optimization is the need to accurately record all details. From the inflows to the steps of the processes themselves to the results that the processes provide. The more accurate your process mapping is, the better chance you have of making lasting, positive change in your organization.
When Is the Best Time for Business Process Analysis?
Businesses are always growing and changing. Ideally, if you’ve never carried out a business process analysis for your organization, you should do so right away. It’s a quick way to see if there are any slowdowns or inefficiencies that are standing in the way of continued success.
However, as a business grows and changes, it onboards new technological solutions to meet increasing customer demands. Old technologies become obsolete. And organizations morph into new entities the longer they’re around. That’s the nature of any successful business.
If you want to ensure that your business runs efficiently, you should carry out routine business process analysis. This will help you identify problem areas before they become harder to fix.
There are other signs of inefficient processes. Regular slowdowns, bottlenecks, increasing customer complaints, manual entry errors, high employee turnover, weak workplace culture, and a bottom line that doesn’t increase despite increased profitability.
The Challenge With Business Process Analysis
While it helps to map out organizational change and effectively put together a strategy for business process improvement, mistakes can still be made. This is because what looks good on paper doesn’t always go according to plan. And assumptions made during the process analysis may not be as accurate as believed.
This is why it’s always better to lean on someone with experience conducting process optimization. There are a variety of consultants you can rely on to help improve your workflow processes. They have the added benefit of experience to ensure that workflow mapping brings about the solutions an organization needs to reach its goals.
See how we've helped our clients improve their businesses and get insane ROIs by checking out our case studies below.