How To Use Business Processes: Areas, Steps and Examples

A business process, business method or business function is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks by people or equipment in which a specific sequence produces a service or product (serves a particular business goal) for a particular customer or customers. Business processes occur at all organizational levels and may or may not be visible to the customers.[1][2][3] A business process may often be visualized (modeled) as a flowchart of a sequence of activities with interleaving decision points or as a process matrix of a sequence of activities with relevance rules based on data in the process.[2][3][4][5] The benefits of using business processes include improved customer satisfaction and improved agility for reacting to rapid market change.[1][2] Process-oriented organizations break down the barriers of structural departments and try to avoid functional silos.[6]

What is a business process?

Benefits of business processes

The benefits of using business processes include:

What are business processes?

Business processes are procedures developed from a sequence of steps. Each step represents a specific assigned task. Business process workflows may involve people, materials, equipment and other elements often in overlapping and interrelated ways. They provide structure by helping teams stay focused on the right priorities at the right time.

Characteristics of business processes

Effective business processes share several characteristics, including:

Types of business processes

Business processes are usually organized in three types, including:

12 key business process areas

Business processes are used by many companies and organizations. If you are interested in implementing business procedures, here are 12 business process areas to consider:

1. Budgeting

Many successful companies leverage structured processes for budgeting and financial planning. This can be an important part of maintaining transparency and consistency in financial matters. It can also make tasks like auditing and tax preparation easier as well as help an organization abide by relevant financial laws and regulations.

2. Managing accounts

Like budgeting and financial planning, managing a companys accounts is often most effective when theres a business process in place. This can help in-house accounting teams prepare accurate records and comply with necessary regulations. It can also help external professionals and consultants understand your accounts more quickly and provide the most useful support to your teams.

3. Business process improvement

Developing and improving business processes can be a business process itself. This can be a good way for a company to develop and then fine-tune its processes over time. A structured system for implementing improvements can motivate and inspire teams and company leadership by identifying areas for growth and development.

4. Customer service

Developing a business process for customer service is a good way to ensure your customer base enjoys consistent and responsive support. This often involves stages for receiving support requests, documenting incidents and providing service.

5. Recruiting and hiring

Establishing business processes for recruiting and hiring can help companies attract and retain highly qualified employees. Doing so can help a company develop a reputation for consistent hiring practices.

6. Managing deliveries

Successful companies often use structured business processes for managing shipments and deliveries. They can be especially beneficial for companies that move a large number of products to businesses and individuals. Processes in this area usually include documenting steps for receiving orders, packaging products, sorting shipments and managing invoices.

7. Marketing

Many companies with in-house marketing departments leverage business processes for their operations. This might be a series of steps and strategies sorted into an overall marketing process or a collection of related granular processes to accomplish separate tasks.

8. Onboarding

Client and employee onboarding are often areas that can benefit from process management. A structured method for welcoming clients and educating new employees can ensure your companys message remains consistent and newcomers are both informed and satisfied. This can help attract and retain valuable customers and employees alike.

9. Product development

Product development can be one of the most important processes a company uses. A structured process lets the business focus on providing customers with high-value products whether they are tangible, intangible or service-based. The product development process usually involves creating an idea, performing research, developing a strategy and ultimately launching each product.

10. Project management

Many successful companies have an established project management system. This might be a proprietary process or a standard project management format that includes structured steps for initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and completion. This can help a business complete projects efficiently and effectively.

11. Purchasing

Many businesses use structured processes for procurement and purchasing. This can involve steps for vendor relationships, payment systems, price negotiation or purchase transactions. This can help maintain consistency in procurement as your company develops a reputation as a reliable purchaser.

12. Sales

Most businesses benefit from cohesive sales processes. A company might develop its own sales process structure or use an externally-developed format. Successful sales processes often include cohesive sales team training opportunities.

How to create a business process

Here are five steps to help you develop a business process:

1. Set your goals

The first step is to determine what purpose will be served by introducing a business process. Consider what goals may be involved, such as reducing paperwork, tracking sales or streamlining operations. You may also look at how you will know if is successful. For example, analytics or metrics may need to be integrated to measure process results.

2. Map your process

This step helps you create a broad roadmap for the process. As you define the steps, consider which strategies will be used to achieve each task. Include details for each step including what will be done, who will do it and in what order.

3. Test your process

This step calls for following the process on a small scale to test its performance. This allows you to find gaps and make adjustments. Continue running tests until you are satisfied with the results.

4. Implement your process

This step involves performing the process in a live environment. This includes explaining the process, training stakeholders and spreading awareness throughout the company.

5. Review your process

Now that the process is being used, plan frequent reviews to ensure it still meets its goal. Tasks may need to be redefined as other processes are added or updated. Documenting the process history will make it easier to review and possibly repurpose for other organizational needs.

Examples of business process solutions

Example 1

An academic medical center had several schools spread across its campus. It was struggling to foster cross-school coordination since most processes relied on paper and manual data input. School departments were weighed down by inefficiencies and tight budgets limited automation software choices.

The center’s information technology department researched business process software and was able to automate student course requisitions, academic scheduling and bus route coordination.

By incorporating the business processes, the medical center benefited from:

Example 2

A local insurance company is part of a regional chain with multiple offices. Its operations require multiple approvals from various offices. Since actions are carried out via email, many are failing to arrive or be on time. Manual coordination for every approval is tedious and time-consuming.

The home office developed a business process to simplify the approval process. Benefits from the process included:

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *