Business processes. They’re there for a reason. They set a precedent for how things are done at work – in an optimal way – given the staff, resources, and technologies your business has to work with.
But things change. Technology makes different tasks more time and cost-efficient. Unless business processes evolve too, companies are in grave danger of putting themselves at risk of extinction.
How can they avoid this?
It sounds simple, but one of the best ways to ensure your business processes remain current is to review and update them on a regular basis. Every quarter, in fact.
Given the fast pace with which IT changes; the arrival of new hardware/software, adjusted customer demands and the increased adoption of Internet of Things, machine learning AI, and cloud-based services; regular reviews are more important than ever.
In practice, this is often easier said than done – particularly for larger companies. But that doesn’t change the fact that process reviews should be a critical part of a business’s operations.
Remain User Focused
One of the biggest reasons to regularly review your business processes is to ensure that your users, internal and external, have the right guidance available to them.
As new technologies, suppliers, and services are introduced, those using them need to innately understand what’s expected of them, and what they need to do in order to get the best result possible.
This can be easily overlooked – particularly when a specific task looks deceptively simple. But something as common as implementing a new telephone system requires new business rules to be created, or simply updating the FAQ or manual – to help users set things up correctly and work through any issues they might encounter.
Without business processes to follow, they’ll try to figure out things on their own – implementing their own fixes when problems arise, and bypassing standard procedures and often falling back to traditional email: outside of the available tool or system. This can only lead to further problems; particularly if different departments have their own individual approach to the same things.
Regular reviews are a great way of understanding how the way things work internally impact the way the business operates externally.
When you have many different moving parts in a business – even when everything seems to be running smoothly – there is always room for improvement. That’s why companies need to understand where faults lie in their processes.
For example, if it’s company policy to quality control every item that’s returned before issuing a customer refund, a 30-day turnaround time will only frustrate customers used to on-demand, 24/7, service.
In an age where mobile phones are used to make purchases, a quicker, more effective way of identifying product faults would be to have customers email or instant message a picture or video of the goods instead – which a quality control manager would review immediately, issuing a refund much faster.
Unless the reality of how customers and your own employees expect things to happen can’t be catered for in your business processes, you’re in danger of losing them too.
All things considered, business processes should never be seen as finite. They are, at best, a work-in-progress: a shifting ledger of what works and what doesn’t for the company at a specific moment in time.
Like a car, with regular maintenance, repairs can be avoided. A review doesn’t mean changing everything – just making sure that processes are still fit for purpose and that promises are kept.
Without such crucial measures in place, companies of all shapes and sizes can expect to go the way of the dinosaurs.