If you’ve been keeping up with our series on business process improvement, you’re probably ready to hear about some solutions. If you’ve missed those articles, you can catch up on them right here:
Now, it’s time to look at how you fix broken processes and take your business to the next level.
It starts with process discovery
Before you start throwing money around to fix broken processes, you need extensive analysis. We refer to this as busines process discovery, and it’s all about finding out what makes your business tick. This is where you pull apart every step of everything you do. Depending on the size and complexity of your operations, this can take a lot of time, but it’s worth it.
For example, in e-commerce you’d look at every step of a sale. From how a customer finds your products through to how you fill orders, manage inventory, and even your post-sale processes. Essentially, you map out every process in your business so they’re clearly definable.
Identify broken processes
Once your processes are mapped, it’s time to find out which ones are broken. This is where expert business consultants are helpful, because their experience is invaluable. A business consultant will analyse each process, and determine which ones are effective and which ones can be improved. Are there unnecessary steps? Are certain points causing frustration for customers? Is there double-handling of data?
With broken processes identified, you can move forward and find solutions.
Finding solutions for broken processes is the next step. That’s what business process improvement is all about, after all. Again, professional expertise is useful in finding the perfect solutions for your broken processes.
Often, improving processes simply involves removing unnecessary steps and finding a better way to do things. Anything that speeds up your work without compromising accuracy is a win for productivity. However, to fully optimise processes, you’ll need technology. So, let’s look at some common tech-based solutions.
Consider custom software
Many businesses use several software programs, with none of them linked together. Usually, this creates a lot of double handling, extra work, and a higher risk of mistakes. For example, your staff may key orders into one system. Then, another staff member transfers this data manually to an accounting program. Staff may fill out timesheets that then need manual checking by another staff member.
These aren’t smart ways to work, but custom software can solve these problems. With a custom-made system that everybody uses, you can cut down that extra work. It also opens up opportunities for integration, meaning you can still keep some third-party programs, but automatically transfer relevant data across.
CRM Solutions for business process
Most businesses, especially those who rely heavily on sales, should consider a customer relationship management (CRM) system. CRMs make sales and marketing so much easier, automating processes and giving more control to your sales team. Amongst other things, a CRM includes tools for customer records, marketing, email, communication, workflow management, customer support and so much more.
Popular examples of a CRM are Zoho, Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics and SuiteCRM. You can customise a lot of these systems to suit your individual needs, or you can even explore options for custom CRM development.
Artificial intelligence is an integral part of repairing broken business processes. There are customer service tools such as chatbots, but there’s also a place for AI in your internal systems. Basically, artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to take care of repetitive, mundane tasks. When used correctly, it can also improve accuracy of data.
For example, if you have multiple staff timesheets that need to be checked each week, that’s almost a full-time job in itself. A system with machine learning capabilities can be programmed to cross-reference timesheet data with other systems, while also following certain rules, or ‘flags’. In this example, staff would only need to check timesheets that are flagged with issues.
Finally, website development is usually required to truly maximise your processes. Especially if you sell products online, because this is where real integration can occur. With your website linking directly to your internal systems, you get so much data to work with. From capturing leads to recording payments, an integrated website makes life so much easier.
Your website is also integral to the customer experience, so if you’ve identified flaws there, some simple improvements can make all the difference.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our series on business process improvement. As the old saying goes, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. There are so many benefits to improving your business processes, and we hope this series has given you the kick-start you need.Start the conversation