Every organization, great or small, is run via a system of processes that help its employees to reach their goals. Typically, the more efficiently these processes are carried out, the more productive a business will be. A simple idea – but it might surprise you that, despite knowing this, most businesses do not take stock of their processes or regularly think about refining them. In a 2016 study, it was found that only 4% of businesses measure and manage their processes.
Refining processes in a business accelerates and increases productivity. It also has a demonstrable ROI. To monitor and take stock of processes, organizations can use business process management. This is effectively the method of improving and standardizing processes within a business, and has a 95% success rate when employed correctly. If you find, for example, that a process can be automated (using the Microsoft power suite), this change cuts out the cost of human error, fast-tracks the process itself, and eliminates bottlenecks.
How to use business process management
Managing processes within an organization can seem, from the outset, a daunting project. Even small companies will have a significant number of processes and tracking these can seem an insurmountable task.
The reality is, however, that performing an audit of processes will shine a light on areas for improvement within your business, and highlight which processes are ripe for automation or refinement.
The business process management (BPM) lifecycle is considered to have five key stages. These are:
Let’s take a look at how to use business process management at each of these five stages, in detail.
Step 1: Design
The first stage of BPM involves taking an audit of business processes, as they exist presently, and then thinking about how they should be designed. At this stage, it’s worth thinking about your processes as assets, which you can take stock of. Identify the steps, actions, and people involved. Think about what needs to happen to arrive at a desired result.
Step 2: Model
At a second stage, model how each process works in different circumstances. For example, is the process simple and linear? Does it follow a number of logical steps? Or does it branch off/is dependent on variables?
At this stage, it’s useful to plot out the process using a clear workflow or process maps. This will help you visualize and better model the process. It can also shine a light on what next steps to take.
For example, a simple process that is time-consuming or prone to human error (e.g. invoice process) could be improved with automation.
Step 3: Execute
Once you’ve designed and modelled your process, you can implement the solutions for improvement. These include using automation for a process, splitting or delegating tasks, or using a progress tool.
Whatever solutions you implement, these will have been clearly designed and modelled in the first two stages of BPM.
Step 4: Monitor
Once new initiatives have been taken, you need to make sure they work. Monitor your new processes and track whether they are working more efficiently. Decide, for any given process, if steps 1-3 need to be revised.
Remember, BPM is a long-term investment that provides long-term results in cost, productivity, and efficiency.
Step 5: Optimize
Keep optimizing processes. Make sure that you stay on top of developments in technology (e.g. automation), compliance, and process standards.
If you are not seeing your desired output, look at repeating the BPM lifecycle.
Finding the right BPM solution
The third stage of the BPM lifecycle involves finding new solutions for improving a process.
There are a range of solutions available to organizations, many of which are specific to industry verticals. Finding the right solution for each process requires a bit of research and it’s possible that you need to try and test a few.
For many organizations looking to streamline processes, the Microsoft power suite has proved to be a worthwhile investment. It is a low-no code application tool which allows anyone in your organization to build solutions and apps for a specific business need. The suite consists of four products:
- Power Apps (for building custom apps)
- Power Automate (for automated solutions)
- Power BI (for data analysis)
- Power Virtual Agents (to create virtual bots)
All four products in the Microsoft power suite integrate seamlessly with the Microsoft ecosystem and enable businesses to build intelligent apps that help them refine processes.
Let’s explore how each product can be employed during the BPM lifecycle.
Microsoft Power Apps enables businesses to build custom apps without a single line of code. This is a useful product for implementing BPM solutions, since most organizations customize their processes to match how they do things.
If you find, during stages 1 and 2 of the BPM lifecycle, that you have processes that are particular to your industry vertical (and solutions aren’t available on the market) or specific business goals, with Power Apps you can build an effective solution.
For example, if you want to implement a process for handling customer service requests, specific to your business, you can create a business process flow in Power Apps.
During the first two stages of the BPM lifecycle, you’ll probably find that many of your business processes can be automated. With Microsoft Power Automate, as part of the Microsoft power suite, your business can build bespoke automation tools, custom to your business needs.
These automation tools are great for processes which are typically time-consuming and require iteration. For example, you can use Power Automate to manage holiday requests and approvals. Or – and many businesses are finding this useful – you can automatically save email attachments into custom folders in SharePoint (e.g. specific to a client).
Automating these kinds of processes saves time and has been shown to save organizations 40-75% in cost.
Today, most organizations store a wealth of data about their business processes.
This data can be indicative of how well a process is functioning and whether it needs to be improved. With Microsoft Power BI, as part of the Microsoft power suite, your business can extract process knowledge from data (this is called process mining), which helps gain better visibility over your processes, eliminate bottlenecks, and improve KPIs.
Power Virtual Agents
Power Virtual Agents allows you to incorporate bots into your business processes.
You can build bots quickly and easily, with machine-learning and natural language processing features enabling continuous improvement.
As your organization’s needs develop, your bot will develop to meet those needs. A prominent example is the customer service bot, which many organizations are beginning to leverage. The bots can learn to assist with common service issues and escalate problems to a live agent when necessary.
Start building a better business
Managing your business processes will provide insights into where your business is falling short.
Every organization has processes that need refining and taking the time to do so will set your business up for success. Automating and streamlining processes saves on cost (e.g. cost of manual task-handling) and generates profits by making tasks more efficient.
Ultimately, it trims the fat from sluggish operations and takes your business into the fast lane.
Want to learn how to use business process management and the Microsoft power suite? At ZAACT we provide a free consultation to get you started.