Our Consultant Jessy Aspell gives her take on understanding, and driving your business processes in order to achieve your business goals.
Understanding your business processes
Enabling your business to work as efficiently and productively as possible, requires a strategy and plan. Having a defined business process in place, which maps out a series of activities, can help your business to achieve its goals. Whether you know it or not, your work is tied together by a series of business processes, and these might be explicitly documented or simply understood.
Identifying how you operate is the first step in understanding why things work the way they do in your organisation. It is through this activity that you will begin to establish the cause of any issues or inefficiencies. Equally, it might be where you discover what or who is working particularly well. Once identified, this is something you might look to replicate in other areas of your organisation.
Getting started with a client
When starting work with a client, it is important not to make assumptions about the way they operate. Any project I work on starts with some form of mapping exercise to understand the current state of an organisation and how the client operates (an AS-IS analysis). Depending on the scope and requirements of the project, this may or may not be formally documented.
Understanding the client involves identifying and talking to key stakeholders, mapping out systems, identifying how information flows through departments and organisational outcomes and goals. This information can be used to map out the key business processes.
Reviewing can be revealing...
In my time with clients, I have found that it is more unusual for a business process to be documented exactly how the activity happens. More often, it exposes:
- differences between what the organisation thinks happens to achieve a goal compared to the activity that actually takes place
- differences between an individual’s job description and the role they actually perform in the organisation
- how one person performs a task compared to another (and who has the most success)
- how employees interact with systems
- whether a system is providing the full functionality required
- whether managers and leaders understanding of the operations of their business aligns with the people on the ground
- the true culture of the organisation and the behaviours exhibited by staff
What happens next?
With knowledge, clients can begin to make informed decisions to develop and improve the functioning of their organisation. The next steps involve working with clients to target and prioritise areas for change – taking findings from the review and developing these into projects including:
- Consistent business practices: articulating and implementing a single, consistent approach to activities that staff can refer to and managers can review against
- Redesigning processes: improving the efficiency of operations through eliminating unnecessary steps and removing duplications in process
- IT review: identifying systems and software to support more efficient working and de-commissioning/upgrading legacy systems
- Organisation design and culture: addressing cultural challenges and refreshing job roles to ensure that business outcomes are being met by the people who are responsible for them
In a recent project, we updated the front of house business process for a client with the aim of collecting more customer information. We improved and updated a system process alongside the behaviour changes required, to facilitate collecting better quality data. The success of this project means that they will now be able to develop their relationship with their customers through targeted, personalized communications, with the aim of increasing sales.