Business processes form the core of how a business operates, defining how, when, where, and why things are done. These processes allow you to perform tasks, dictate how tasks should be done, reduce costs, manage security, and optimize tasks for efficiency. They commonly include items such as customer strategy, management, employee development, product development, product delivery, invoicing, change management, quality improvement, quality assurance, and so on.
In most cases, improving a business process will have a real and positive business impact. It will save you money, cut the time or complexity of the process, increase the efficiency, or otherwise make it better. Taking the time to analyze and review your existing business processes and the things that impact them to ensure they fit your business, are still adequate or well-suited to what you are doing, and do not have current room for improvement will help you to improve and grow your organization over time. The following 5 factors influencing business processes you can improve will start you off on some of the most common areas you can improve.
Introduce a Central Network
Whether customer relationship management (CRM), data and files, storage, or even printing, it’s crucial that your entire organization be on the same network. How does this improve business processes? Your network and data storage impact everyone on the network and every bit of data you share, create, or want to move. Having a single, central, and hopefully internal network will greatly reduce costs, boost security, and improve user management.
This will tie into a range of business processes inside design, product development, data security, data management, documentation, and much more. For example, if everyone is using the same servers, you can easily move data from one person to another without putting it at risk. Everyone has (managed) access to the same servers, which allows you to set up internal access for files across your entire system.
Most importantly, central networking makes it easier to reduce costs by transferring data over local area or wide-area network rather than internet. This will impact several business processes for the better.
Improving Print Management
Print constitutes a massive cost for most organizations, with the average employee printing as many as 10,000 pages per year (70% of which go to waste on the same day). At the same time, print constitutes massive risks in terms of data information security, because printer queues, online management, and printed pages left in trays are often stolen and exploited. Taking steps to integrate strong print management, especially in the form of both hardware and software upgrades, will reduce these risks, improve expenditure, and optimize your entire print network.
Here, it may be more cost-effective to choose a managed print services vendor who can step in and manage all of your print for you. Managed print services include all print services such as printers, scanners, servers, software, and ongoing user access management, print optimization, supply, and maintenance/repair. This will redirect attention from IT away from print and towards their own tasks, will allow you to streamline print processes. How? Strong management means you can integrate user-access management, control who has access to which printers, require keying or logging in to printers to access files, maintain backups and link printed files to individual users, and simplify print by creating an online queue which users can access from anywhere.
Print also ties into other business processes such as HR and hiring, onboarding, payrolling, bookkeeping, and much more. Optimizing it will improve every process that ties into print.
Integrating Everyone into the Same Tooling
One of the largest barriers to efficient processes is that individual teams or external contractors tend to work in their own software and tooling. So, even as modern technology brings departments such as sales, marketing, finance, and customer support closer and closer together, many simply don’t have the resources to provide a seamless customer experience.
Implementing everyone into the same tooling, whether actual tools or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will work to change this. For example, if sales can see what product development is doing and if marketing can see what sales is doing, both can optimize their own processes to generate higher conversion. This will tie into numerous business processes, which will help you to optimize across the organization.
Forcing Documentation with Access Management
Documentation is crucial to information security, protecting business information and customer data, and to compliance in several industries, but it’s often difficult to enforce. Creating documentation processes is often not enough to ensure adoption, because individuals are busy, don’t want to document, and don’t often see the need for it. Creating automatic documentation inside of tooling is one way to improve total documentation, which requires a strong access matrix across your organization.
Here, individuals must be granted access to tooling and business processes on a needs-basis, their changes, sessions, and updates must be tracked, and everything should automatically go into a log. While software development should still necessitate keeping manual logs of updates, automatic logs are more than enough to ensure compliance in most other areas.
Creating Visibility for Business Processes
Most employees don’t follow business processes, but the reasons are typically that they simply aren’t aware of those processes. Creating a single platform where business processes are implemented, visible, and made part of work and tooling will help you to improve those processes, simply because individuals will be aware of what they are supposed to do and how.
There are numerous programs and software solutions that will help you share processes as part of assigning work. Some tools such as IBM and Kissflow specialize in business processes while others such as Asana, Wrike, and Jira offer some support for processes. The goal is to simply put processes in front of teams, allow them to make updates as they improve their own processes, and to ensure that every process has an owner so that it is kept relevant and up to date.
Business processes form the lifeblood of an organization, they determine how and when you act. But, one of the most important steps to maximizing their usefulness and value is often simply utilizing the processes you have, rather than writing and forgetting about them. Implementing better management, better documentation, and central tooling and networking will help you to achieve this, so you can improve many of your processes.