What Is a Good Business Process And How Do You Achieve It?
A good process is not a chance encounter. It’s a decision of working a certain way to achieve an end deliverable. It takes time and effort to understand the key fundamentals of what the ideal process looks like, who are the stakeholders and what actions are required to achieve the end result. Let’s break this down.
A process is ''a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end'’. But most of all, a well-defined process is it’s an effective means to achieve your goals. When approached thoughtfully, processes can evolve naturally and be optimised for success. However, when not given proper attention or if key people are left out of the loop, important steps may get ignored and those involved won’t understand why they aren’t reaching their goal – resulting in wasted time and resources.
What does the picture look like?
Everyone has their own perceptions and views on how something will work. It’s human nature. What one person sees visually another may not understand at all, so it’s extremely important to map out what a process looks like in a way that makes sense to those that implement it and use it.
To accomplish this, creating visual representations of workflows and complementing them with written processes to explain each step of the workflow in detail can help bridge any misunderstanding. This allows us all to visualize what each step looks like, while also highlighting areas that we may not have noticed before; showing how to move from one point to another (e.g., Step 1 -> Step 2 -> [key action] -> Step 3 | Skip to Step 6 etc.).
Who are the Stakeholders?
Stakeholders are everyone that is affected by the process – directly or indirectly. It’s important to remember that stakeholders are not only those directly involved in the project – they also include anyone who is impacted by its results. From a single individual all the way up an entire business – having everyone on board and understanding their role within your process will ensure maximum success.
An example of this is submitting an invoice for payment. The starting point is people need to be paid and the goal is payment is made. Who needs to be involved in this process? It may be more people than you think. The company should have a policy or some written statement advising what the requirements are in order to get paid. This informs the person of how much they can charge. What about expenses? Extras? Was it a trip or event they attended? Who processes the payment? What are the terms of payment? What information is needed on an invoice to make the payment? A simple statement of making a payment to someone suddenly is quite a detailed process. If payment happens then excellent, result! What happens next? Where is that paperwork filed? Who does the payment need to report to? How long do you keep a record of the payment being made? Is this a new process, or a continuation of the current process?
A good process will consider all the exceptions, rules, policies, and motivations that inform the end goal. Complex processes should be broken down into pieces to be able to see how the pieces fit together to maximise their effectiveness.
What Actions are needed to achieve the end result?
To ensure a successful end result, all stakeholders must be on board and ready to contribute at every step. A CEO’s contribution may not seem significant when looked at in isolation; however, it can play an essential role in the success of the whole process. For example: if approving an invoice requires sign-off from a CEO but they take three weeks to give that approval – what are the consequences for this? When something like this happens who exactly is accountable? These questions should always be asked before launching any project!
Many good processes have contingencies and alternative paths built in to combat potential obstacles. Who else could sign off an invoice if the CEO is too busy? What responsibility could be delegated to give the CEO oversight but not necessarily direct action?
The process is implemented – we’re done, right?
Having a good process in place is essential for any business but keeping it up to date and revised regularly is just as important. Checking in with stakeholders provides invaluable feedback that can lead to an even greater level of success than anticipated. Even some of the world’s most influential companies put countless hours into asking “what do you think? What works? What do we need to revisit?” All these types of questions are integral to mapping the picture of a good process and businesses must think beyond just implementing and forgetting.
A good process must:
- Be mapped out in a way that makes sense to all involved.
- Consider and clearly state all the implications from start to end.
- Involve all stakeholders who may have a direct or indirect impact.
- Be regularly evaluated and not forgotten.
If you’re looking for help managing your processes more effectively – don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us for a complimentary call; our team is excited to see businesses running at peak performance!