Process. The word strikes deep into the hearts of business owners because we never stop thinking about it, or questioning it.
· Is my business working at an optimal level?
· Did I only need one meeting to accomplish what I just did in three?
· Could I have accomplished this task online or over the phone and saved the effort and time of meeting in person at this stage of the client relationship?
Overall, business process can be described as a collection of linked tasks which, at completion, result in delivering a product or service to your customer or client. Some companies outsource this, others manage it internally; however, business process management (BPM) is also a growing industry, expected to be grow to a $16 billion market by 2023.
There are many reasons to rethink your process:
· Growth, new market environment
· A restructure after acquisition
· Improve quality control
· Changing expectations of the customer or client
· New and better technologies available
An online business will have a much different set of processes than, say, a retail operation, vs. a non-profit organization, of course, but many of the same questions about process apply.
Explorance, a provider of survey software advises that if you are changing up any one or more processes in your business, start with the following steps:
1. “Start with identifying any need for change.” What does your current process look like? Are you not making deadlines, or spending more money in one area of the business than you think you should be? Is a process putting more pressure on one department or member of your team? Also, ask, “What are current issues or current risks for the company?”
2. Identify how one process impacts another. Is one process standing in the way of, or slowing the execution of another? Are there steps in the current process where you commonly encounter a roadblock? For example, is your client online ordering process straight forward, or does it frustrate the user enough that you are losing sales, or needing human interaction? Is a process presently slowing the efficiency of how your team works, and adding no value? Is there a step in the approval process that can be removed, for example?
3. Ensure your managers are on board with any changes to process. A process change can be as small (but important) as implementing a strategy for fixing broken links on your website, or as big (and important) as adding a position to your team to alleviate one step in a bigger process. Get your team involved, especially managers to make sure they are in agreement, or don’t have a different or better idea for fixing any process issues.
4. Set some process improvement objectives and goals. Commitment to a process change is paramount if you want to see a difference in efficiency, revenue, or any other aspect of your business. Setting those objectives and getting your team excited about the possibilities the change can bring will help in exploring your business’ optimal performance.
Though a team may be open to change in the process, it is not always successful. According to John Kotter, writer for Business Harvard Review’s article “Leading Change: Why transformation efforts fail,” more often than not change fails. Not establishing a sense of urgency and momentum for change is often what leads to its failure. “Sometimes executives underestimate how hard it can be to drive people out of their comfort zones,” says Kotter.
But the change doesn’t have to happen overnight. Set reasonable expectations, and accept that there might be a trial and error period; results may be better than you ever thought. Either way, there is nothing to lose—in the end, you will know your business better.