The idea of redesigning or implementing new business processes can be a challenge and can lead to some tough conversations. The tried and trusted “we’ve always done it this way” methods often make us feel comfortable with the norm and scared of change. However, in order to develop with the times, businesses have to constantly look at, and iterate their working processes to remain competitive and develop products or services.
In short, a business process is the strategy steps taken by an organisation to achieve a business goal. As time goes on, these processes may become stale and archaic – this is when implementing a new process comes in.
clarify if it’s right to implement new business processes
It’s not always essential, nor the right time to implement a new business process. Iterating and redesigning business processes too regularly results in little communication with the front line and can hinder performance.
Before implementing a new business process, ensure that you have buy-in from all stakeholders. That’s not just the business heads either! Clarification must also be made with members on the front lines, who are going to be working closely with the process redesign. If they’re onboard and believe in the vision, the transition towards a new way of working will be much smoother.
Not only do you need buy-in, but it’s important that you know the goals you’re trying to achieve by implementing a new process. Clarity at this stage is extremely important. Using effective communication, gather feedback from your team on what they believe the goals of the new process to be? If there is a clear understanding, again, this will make the process implementation much smoother in the long run.
In order to understand your goals, ask direct questions to gather the answers you need. Questions like:
- What business processes are we redesigning/removing/adding?
- What are the elements of the process that need amending?
- By changing certain elements, how will this improve the process?
- What are the expected outcomes from stakeholders/leaders/team players
- Are there business benefits? Financially and from an efficiency/resource point of view?
- What are the costs to the business and what resources are required?
Once you are clear on the above, you’re in a strong position to know if adding a new process/redesigning an old process is the right solution.
are you mapping your process correctly?
Business process implementation is designed to ensure a business’s operations run as efficiently and profitably as possible. However, without the right level of documentation, a new business process can create more work than necessary.
This is where business process maps or swim diagrams come in. As outlined by Mindtools, a swim diagram “allows you to quickly and easily plot and trace processes and, in particular, the interconnections between processes, departments, and teams.”
The idea is that you map processes in a linear fashion as a series of tasks. You add to this, a series of lines between each task that act as the flow of information and changes in responsibility, should they occur.
Another common way of mapping out a process is by using a flowchart. These act as a fantastic visual aid to help understand how a process works. These charts help provide clear communication and clarity when looking to standardise processes and identify any bottlenecks, or potential for waste. They’re also perfect for solving problems within organisations and business processes.
communication is the key to business process implementation
While documentation is king when implementing new business processes, communication is queen.
Throughout the process, constant communication streams should be set up in order to ensure the process is running smoothly. For example, many forget to communicate the new process/redesign with IT. When the process breaks down, it’s easy to identify that IT wasn’t liaised with regarding infrastructure or workflow design, which resulted in a failure during implementation.
Let this act as an example of the importance of effective communication in the workplace. Without understanding the whole communication process, a new business process will inevitably fail. Communication in all facets of a business is absolutely imperative and shouldn’t be taken lightly. 70% of processes fail when there isn’t clear communication during the process implementation.
At the core of implementation, communication provides ample opportunity for feedback and learning. Your outline documentation has already lead you to understand who will be affected by the process, so now you’ll hear directly from them about their concerns and can begin to piece together a web of how a change implementation may impact the business as a whole.
without measuring you don’t learn
Businesses who don’t measure process implementation fall foul to mistakes. The above example regarding IT and infrastructure proves this. No communication results in no measurement, which results in no way of identifying issues until it’s too late.
Measuring the performance of a process implementation is important as this will show the incremental improvements made to the business. If your leaders aren’t looking to see results, they’re not engaged enough with the work, and equally, if you do not measure your success against what you define as the baseline, you’re equally in trouble should your leadership require this information and you will have no idea if your hard work was worthwhile!
It’s always good to work closely with your leadership when implementing the process. This will provide clarity regarding the expectations and baseline measurements of the process implementation.
Additionally, this shows a continual commitment to improving the process and business overall through the new change. By having something to measure against, it’s much easy to work iteratively and tweak the process where necessary through problem identification and solution management.
the software can make life easier
Many businesses use BPM software to manage their business processes and change implementation. These tools can really streamline and improve performance if utilised and configured correctly.
Ultimately, a BPM software needs to be collaborative and allow for easy to define workflow frameworks. People of all levels should be able to use the BPM software if required. If necessary, a BPM should be easily scalable, depending on the size of the business. If the business grows, you’d much prefer a scaled up version of the BPM software than having to switch providers and transfer data.
Ensure there are a high amount of customisation possibilities. Whilst this links back to scalability, being able to customise dashboards, reporting etc. will help for much smoother process management for the team as a whole.
train your team
Learning and development hold an important place in any business, especially when there is change. In order to avoid uncertainty when implementing or redesigning a new process, training programmes must be created to up-skill the team.
A great training programme is defined within the initial documentation and mapping, whereby leaders can work with teams to identify any problems and the training requirements and timelines associated with this.
Additionally, internal up-skilling should be factored into any high-level documentation surrounding a new process. Create ‘Champions’ or ‘Super-users’, made up of quick adopters or those that have experienced similar processes, to support others with less experience.
Planning and documenting is key within any job and the same applies here. Ensure you’re planning effectively, mapping out your process and understanding the resource needed and why. Keep up with communicating the process to the wider team and promote collaboration and feedback. Learn from any problems or mistakes and improve accordingly. Ultimately, learn to identify the right time to redesign a process and learn when to let it go.