Waiting days on end for a manager’s approval, requiring physical signatures, or even running a mailroom are business processes of the past for organizations that embrace digital transformation. But when most companies think about digital transformation, they put too much emphasis on adopting new technologies to “go digital” rather than focusing on transformation first, and that can be a recipe for failure.
Business processes, and the documents, people, and systems linked to them, are at the heart of how every organization runs. But the fact is, most businesses are wildly inefficient. Paperwork and manual tasks tie up employee’s time, poorly managed information kills productivity, every department has their own system for storing data, and the list goes on. This often leads to delays, inaccuracies, and widespread deviations where work happens differently every time. Pretty soon, deadlines are missed, cash flow is impacted, compliance risks are looming, and you’re reading reviews about how difficult it is to work with your company.
Meanwhile competitors are constantly re-evaluating their processes to adapt to market changes and trends as quickly as possible. Then, they redesign them with an eye toward simplicity to streamline operations, enable faster and better decisions, and improve customer and employee experiences.
The systematic approach for doing this, and the first step toward digital transformation, is business process analysis (BPA).
What is Business Process Analysis (BPA)?
An organization can’t operate at its best, or develop a future state, without fully understanding how work is presently being carried out and completed. Business process analysis serves as a reality check by assessing the impact of outdated processes on your bottom line, your ability to serve your customers, and the time it steals from your employees. It takes a hard look at the people and systems involved, the documents and information they exchange, the tasks and activities completed, and then maps out the sequence of those events from start to finish. The main purpose is to get a detailed view of an entire process, identify any delays, errors, redundancies, lack of resources, or complaints, and come up with a game plan for eliminating them. Then, BPA provides recommendations for restructuring the processes and any new technologies with everything properly scoped out and prioritized.
The goal is to help your company:
- Record current processes if not already documented;
- Analyze individual actions, documents, systems, and data involved;
- Analyze the inputs and outputs of each activity;
- Understand how information flows throughout the process;
- Understand any associated rules and regulations;
- Understand the roles and people responsible for management and execution;
- Understand the number of steps, and the time and cost to complete them;
- Identify weaknesses and problem areas;
- Develop a detailed process-improvement plan;
- Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to better monitor the process;
- Know what “good” looks like compared to industry best practices;
- Map out your digital transformation journey; and
- The payback period if you implement change.
Why Conduct a Business Process Analysis?
Business process analysis can yield enormous benefits to your company. It allows you to confirm the time and costs you’re wasting to complete key tasks. It allows you to determine how well you’re meeting customer expectations and demands. It allows you to make the right modifications to your processes in an informed manner and be able to justify those changes. It brings your employees, customers, and shareholders on board with transformation efforts. It enables more work to be done with the same full-time equivalents (FTE) at a lower cost, increasing top-line revenue. Ultimately, it facilitates faster, accurate, predictable, and highly visible processes, leading to:
- Increased productivity and efficiency
- Standardized policies and rules
- Process transparency
- Better cooperation, alignment, and use of resources
- Improved governance, compliance. and oversight
- Increased customer service and retention
- Cost savings
- Happier, energized employees
- More opportunities for continued improvement and innovation
- Stronger competitive edge
Why BPA is Key to Digital Transformation
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, businesses were challenged to drastically rethink the way they were working. Customer touchpoints had to move from offline to online. Physical office environments had to go remote overnight. On-site mailrooms were difficult to staff delaying critical communications. This led to rapid digital transformation across all sectors and organization sizes, and there are no signs of it slowing down.
Customers, employees, and business partners now have even greater expectations than they did before when it comes to user experience, mobility, and on-demand digital services.
Meanwhile, the workforce is becoming more distributed and geographically dispersed, and experts are increasingly forecasting an upcoming recession.
All of these forces are putting pressure on organizations to digitally transform, but transformation projects largely fail because people believe, and are sold by vendors to believe, that tech will solve all their problems. They become so enamored with technology they make it the centerpiece instead of focusing on the operating model. Technology alone will not fix a broken process. Transformation first requires a blueprint that clearly communicates and visually outlines what it is you are trying to do, how you’re accomplishing that today, and what successful execution should look like. Then, it identifies how any improvements can be met with the right technologies. Business process analysis is that blueprint.
How to Choose Which Process to Analyze
There are a number of core processes that every business needs—from employee onboarding and offboarding in HR and invoice processing in Accounts Payable, to industry specific processes such as service requests in Public Works or mail processing in Law Firms. Optimization opportunities in any one of these areas can be found in workflows, organizational structure, collaboration, information management, systems integration and so on. Prioritizing which process to analyze first is typically based on changes to your business’s overall market strategy, drops in productivity, employee frustration, high turnover, technology investments, mergers and acquisitions, or new regulatory requirements. Think about the goals of your company. Which processes are your people regularly performing that impact your bottom line and contribute to your strategic objectives? To determine where to start, ask yourself:
- Is the process taking longer to complete than it should?
- Is it holding up other downstream processes or tasks?
- Are customers or other stakeholders complaining about it?
- What’s the output look like? Are there inconsistencies or inaccuracies?
- Does it require constant rework?
- Is it performed differently depending on who’s doing it?
- Is it creating frustrations in other departments?
- What will improving it mean for your organization?
Who Should Lead Your BPA Process
Business process analysis is typically performed by business process analysts or architects who follow proven methodologies, and for good reason. Too often organizations put their transformation efforts on internal IT resources or project managers. While staff, management, and IT personnel close to the process should be included, they are not information or process management experts, and often lack the time to see the project through. Business process analysts have an intimate understanding of business change needs. They know where to look when it comes to uncovering inefficiencies. They know how to expose what’s generating them. They know how to assess the business impact of any changes, how to gather, analyze and document requirements, and then implement those requirements.
Docufree BPA Assessments
Docufree provides business process analysis based on AIIM, CompTIA and Six Sigma standards. Our certified BPA experts conduct a purely objective analysis of each process which includes interviewing staff, identifying where they are involved in the process, which tasks they’re accountable for, and collecting and logging data for each step. We then map your current process and use workflow diagrams and flow charts to provide a graphical representation that is easy and clear to understand. We analyze the data for each process and generate a report that details:
- Inefficiencies and redundancies;
- The time required and expenses incurred;
- Pinpointed areas for improvement;
- Recommendations based on knowledge, not speculation; and
- A phased implementation approach and roadmap for digital transformation
Have you looked at your workflows lately? If you’re concerned about how much inefficiency is costing your business, talk to our experts today.