Identifying and optimizing a business process is essential in improving the business’s productivity and efficiency in achieving its objectives, and this is typically done by performing a business process workflow analysis.
According to a study, however, only 4% of businesses that have documented business processes actually manage and measure the business process workflow. Meaning, so many businesses are persistently executing business processes that might not be efficient and effective. If this process is recurring, then the inefficiencies can be accumulated, costing businesses so much money, resources, and time.
By optimizing these business processes, these enterprises would be able to achieve their objectives quickly and more efficiently, and grow the business’s revenue and customer base.
What Is Business Process Workflow
Before anything else, it’s important to understand that process and workflow are two distinct terms, although they might seem similar at first glance. Understanding their differences is very important in optimizing your business operations.
Process, or to be exact, business process, is all the interconnected tasks or steps that must be executed (by stakeholders) to accomplish a business objective. Those involved in this business process may be held accountable for executing a specific task or step, and nowadays we can implement automation to execute some of the steps to make them more efficient.
Business process workflow, on the other hand, refers to the sequence of how these series of steps/tasks must be completed, which can be documented and visualized in a workflow diagram. The workflow diagram visualizes every step and the sequence of how these steps must be initiated towards an objective.
Therefore, we can say that the business process contains the business process workflow, but not the other way around. The business process contains other important elements like data, employees, and other components in achieving the objective.
Business Process Workflow Optimization
Business process workflow optimization is the effort of improving an existing business process workflow.
Each business process workflow is unique, and thus, how any given workflow can be optimized is also unique. However, a typical business process workflow optimization has three core objectives:
- Eliminating bottlenecks and redundancies
- Ensuring the process is as efficient as possible
- Making sure the process is up-to-date (using the latest technologies and methods, etc. )
To achieve these objectives, typically there are three core stages involved when optimizing a business process workflow:
1. Identifying and visualizing the process
What is the business process that needs to be optimized? What is the objective? Resources involved, stakeholders involved, and other elements in detail. We can use workflow management software like Aproove to visualize the business process workflow in a workflow diagram, which can also significantly help in the next two steps below.
2. Analyzing the business process
After the process and its details have been identified and visualized as a workflow diagram, the next step is to analyze the process.
This will involve analyzing how the process operates, how optimal each step is executed, and discovering bottlenecks and areas where improvements can be made. In this process, we should identify whether the process could be simplified or automated to be more efficient.
We can further breakdown this step into the following activities:
- Interviewing stakeholders: Don’t underestimate the insights you’ll get from those who are directly involved in the business process. Ask for feedback regarding how the process is currently executed and ideas on how to improve it. Identify the participants and their responsibilities, and document the information you get from this step thoroughly.
- Analyze the workflow diagram:
- Why is the business process necessary? (can we eliminate this process instead?)
- What is the desired objective of this business process?
- What systems/tools are in use? How do they add value or can we eliminate them?
- How are KPIs measured? Is the performance already optimized?
- Are there any interactions with clients/customers during the business process? Are there any unnecessary interactions?
- Who are the clients/customers? What do they need?
- And so on. The more questions you can answer, the better.
- Analyze business policies: look at the current business rules and policies, and check whether they create bottlenecks. Analyze whether policies, rules, and requirements can be simplified or eliminated without affecting the business process.
- Identify bottlenecks and redundancies: identify any factors that create obstacles during the execution of the business process
- Identify potential optimizations: figure out how the business process workflow can be optimized, identify whether automation can help in improving the overall process
- Estimate cost: identity your cost and the average cost of comparable business processes of your competitors, as well as the cost to modify the process
3. Implementing the changes and updates
After we’ve analyzed the business process workflow thoroughly, we can move into the implementation of the optimization process. This is where modifications and optimizations are made into the business process.
Evaluate the modification, and check whether the implemented changes will cause positive results. If not, another round of analysis and optimization may be required.
Optimizing business process workflow can help businesses in improving the efficiency and productivity of the business process in achieving its objectives.
Business process workflow optimization might be beneficial for your business if:
- There are processes that take too long to complete
- Processes where employees still often make mistakes or errors
- Any identified bottlenecks in the process that hinder the process’s efficiencies
- Wasteful steps and resources
- The business process is not producing the desired results
In general, however, unless all your business processes are already perfect, then you can always benefit from analyzing your current process and optimizing it. This is where a workflow management solution like Aproove can help in the development of workflow diagrams, real-time analysis, and the implementation of the optimizations.