How important is business process improvement? We’ve all felt that sinking feeling on the first day in a new job.
You walk in, your eyes bright with hope, and get handed a lead tracking spreadsheet that looks like it was made when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
When you suggest an alternative method, you’re shot down. Why?
“Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
That, my friend, is a red flag: a sign of broken business processes.
If you’re the salesperson receiving that spreadsheet, we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to run for the hills – 70% of millennials say they’d quit a job that didn’t employ fast, high-performing technology.
And if you’re the one handing out this spreadsheet:
- Who hurt you?
- It’s not too late to change!
In this blog, we’ll show you the importance of business process improvement, and how it can help your business.
What Is Business Process Improvement (BPI)?
Feel free to skip this if you know what you’re doing already, but we think everyone could stand a refresher. After all, only 4% of companies track and manage their processes.
Business process improvement is an overhaul of your processes involving:
- A full analysis of your business, i.e. what success looks like and how it happens
- Diagnosing the problems – what’s getting in the way of that success currently?
- Designing and testing solutions
- Implementing those solutions and constantly updating them
The impact of business process improvement can be massive. But what does it look like in practice?
Business process improvement examples
There are loads of ways to achieve business process improvement. Popular methodologies include:
- Agile management
- Six Sigma
- Lean management
- Total quality management
They all loosely follow the structure we set out above, with different methods of delivering the final product.
At Human Pixel, we use the agile management methodology.
Why? Well, first of all, it sounds cool.
And second of all, because it reflects what we’re all about:
- Putting people first – technology should facilitate interaction, not replace it
- Delivering working software, not just reams of documentation
- Collaborating creatively instead of quibbling over contracts forever
- Adapting to change and new information, not just delivering what was agreed at the beginning and leaving it at that
Here’s how we do it.
First, in a business process improvement discovery workshop, we’ll deep-dive into your processes to work out what’s working, and more importantly, what’s not working.
Our BPI experts will work with you to identify solutions, and not just software-based ones either. We’ll talk you through how to make your tech work for your team, not the other way around.
Our developers will step in and tell you what software you need to make it happen, and finally, we’ll get to work creating a minimum viable product for you to test and give feedback on until we get it juuuuust right.
Here’s a diagram of the process:
You get the idea.
It might sound complicated, but the bottom line is this: Agile BPI helps you think like a human about how to best apply your software.
Now let’s get into why you should do this in the first place.
Why Is Business Process Improvement Fundamental?
We hope we’ve already convinced you that BPI is a good thing, but we’re about to show you why it’s a totally unmissable thing.
Here’s a taster: one of the biggest benefits of business process improvement is that it can deliver 30-50% productivity gains.
Hungry for more? Let’s go.
In a nutshell
|Benefits||Why it matters to businesses|
|1. Automate and optimise repetitive processes||Eliminating up to a third of sales tasks from your team’s workload |
Freeing up your team for higher-value activities
Boosting reps’ morale by eliminating boring manual work
|2. Eliminate waste||No more repeating the same work over and over again |
No more excess time spent on simple or repetitive tasks
Potential cost reductions and revenue boosts
|3. Boost reliability and accountability||Over 30% improvements to sales forecasting accuracy and sales productivity |
Better oversight of processes and where they’re going wrong
|4. Define your company culture||Standardised messaging across sales pitches, social media, and customer comms|
All of your teams working centrally in one system
Better communication between departments
The 4 benefits at length
1. Automate and optimise
BPI is closely linked to sales force automation, but before you freak out…
… we’re not trying to turn you into a soulless company of bots. We believe in the importance of human intelligence – it’s literally in our name!
What we’re talking about is handing over the boring tasks (that your team hates, by the way) to smart software like a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
This isn’t just a small proportion of tasks. According to a McKinsey study, about a third of all sales tasks can be automated. Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you’re an advanced-industries manufacturing company that wants to streamline your bid process. Putting together a proposal currently takes around 3 weeks, during which time your sales reps have to:
- Assemble the relevant documents
- Look up the specifications
- Write and format the proposal
… and all manually. Yikes.
With sales automation, you could cut this down to two hours.
No, we’re not kidding. Take a look:
|Manual task||CRM automation replacement|
|Assembling documents||Pre-designed proposal templates are stored in CRM|
|Looking up specifications||Necessary client and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) data is taken directly from the CRM and automatically populates the necessary fields|
|Writing and formatting||An automated workflow (like the one offered by Zoho One below) pushes the completed proposal to the assigned rep for approval and to send off.|
Are you thinking this sounds too good to be true?
Well, think again.
This is a real example of sales automation from the McKinsey study we mentioned earlier – and it resulted in higher customer satisfaction and a 5% uplift in revenue.
McKinsey also observed an overall cost reduction of 10 to 15% and a reduction in order processing time.
We know, it’s pretty awesome.
2. Eliminate waste
Do you know what double handling is? Sounds kinda fun, right?
Actually, double handling is one of the biggest time-wasters at work.
“Double-handling” basically means doing the same work twice, and it’s more common than you think. More than two-thirds of global office workers believe they waste time doing the same tasks again and again at work.
We bet you’ve done this too. Here are some examples:
- Entering the same contact data into multiple databases
- Copy and pasting the same cold email over and over again (and probably making mistakes in the process)
- Creating a new proposal from scratch during each new bid process
- Manually tracking website or ad data (e.g. ad clicks and landing page views) in a spreadsheet daily
Sounds familiar, right?
Suddenly double-handling looks less like a fun circus act and more like… well, this.
Drip marketing is a great example of a task that, when done manually, is a huge source of time-wasting and frustration for your team, but that can be automated easily and effectively with a good CRM.
Instead of asking your team to write the same set of emails over and over again to follow up with clients (and to remember exactly when to do these for each client), you can set up automated drip marketing with a CRM system.
Just create templates in your CRM and your team can either trigger them manually or set them up as part of an automatic workflow for new leads.
This eliminates not just wasted time, but human error. No more forgetting to change the name when you copy an email template to a new lead!
3. Boost reliability and accountability
It makes sense that standardising processes through one central CRM system would make those processes more reliable.
After all, 74% of businesses say their CRM software gives them better access to customer data, and CRM systems have been proven to be able to improve sales productivity and the accuracy of sales forecasting by more than a third.
So, reliability can be improved with a CRM – but did you know it can also help you with accountability?
When processes are spread over several systems with no clear oversight, it can be hard for management to tell who is at fault when something goes wrong.
We’re not necessarily saying your team is being sly – they might not know who’s responsible, either!
With a CRM, this is much clearer. Let’s take a closer look.
Let’s say that the steps you follow when contacting a new lead are:
- Contact data is copied from an email into the contact database spreadsheet
- It’s then also copied into a pipeline spreadsheet
- A manager scores and assigns the lead in the pipeline spreadsheet
- Reps log into the spreadsheet to check for new leads
- They contact the client
- They track this individually and in the group pipeline
Wowzers, that’s a lot of steps – and if any one of these processes doesn’t happen, it all falls apart.
With automated lead distribution from your CRM, you can eliminate this process entirely. Your reps will be notified automatically when a new lead is assigned to them, whether by a manager or by the system. When a lead falls through the cracks, it will be clear where the missing link was.
4. Define your company culture
Okay, we admit it. This is our favourite one.
Good BPI isn’t just about efficiency. That’s why we choose agile over lean – we don’t just want to eliminate waste processes, we want to create holistic transformation.
The real cost of inefficient processes is that you lose your competitive edge and your connection to what your company is about.
Good BPI helps you get your priorities straight: what’s important to you as a business and how your processes can serve that purpose.
With the centralisation of data you get from a CRM you can standardise your messaging using:
- Email templates
- Sales call blueprints
- In-built social media management tools
But it goes deeper than just your messaging.
Let’s say that you’re a SaaS company that creates specialised e-learning tools for the healthcare industry.
Your co-founders used to collaborate closely on improvements to the product and implementing feedback from leads and clients.
However, since they’ve retired, your retention has plummeted and the product is stagnating because the product and sales teams have become siloed as they’ve grown.
A BPI solution might be a combination of software and good old human creativity – logging customer feedback and instituting a standing product update review so that your teams are all working together and on the same page.
We’re not saying this is easy to do, but it is worth it. 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success, and your software setup will be a big part of this.
You just need an expert on board to get it right.
Signs You Need To Consider Business Process Improvement
You’ve seen the benefits, and now you’re wondering if it’s time to take the leap.
We kinda think that if you’re asking the question at all, then you’ve already got your answer, but here are some key symptoms of broken processes if you need that final nudge.
1. All your processes are taking too long
Whether your reps are having to do the same work over and over again, or are simply bogged down with simple tasks their software should be doing for them, the chances are that your broken business processes take too darn long to complete.
Whatever industry or department you’re in, this will have effects on your overhead, but it can also affect your success rate. For example, in recruiting, 60% of candidates have quite a too-long application process.
2. There are too many checks and reviews
More manual tasks mean more errors. Increased errors mean more checks. More checks mean more time spent on the same task, and more time spent on the same task means we’re back at symptom one again!
3. You’ve thrown money at the problem and it’s not gone away
It’s not enough just to get the most expensive CRM on the market and hope that does the trick.
In fact, bringing in heavy-duty software without thinking carefully about how you’ll use it could create more work for your team, as they have to adapt the old processes (which weren’t working in the first place) to a new system that wasn’t built for them.
BPI, particularly when working with a custom development partner like Human Pixel, makes sure not only that the underlying processes are sound, but that the software is built to fit them so you’re not doing any dodgy workarounds.
Work With Human Pixel to Revolutionise Your Processes
It’s pretty clear what the importance of BPI is, right?
- No more dusty old spreadsheets making new hires run for their lives
- Teams no longer working like zombies at repetitive tasks
- No more stagnation because you’re bleeding time, energy, and creativity through the cracks in your processes
Human Pixel can help your business become more nimble, more profitable, and – let’s face it – more fun to work in.
Get in touch today to get the revolution started.