5 Tips To Help Simplify Your Business Processes

Posted by Russell Clark, Director of Consulting Services on November 27, 2013

I talk to a lot of people about business process and while it’s fair to say that I get a range of reactions and responses, not many people get excited about the prospect of mapping out how their organisation runs. Why is this?

We don’t define process for fun, we do it to improve how we work, to improve efficiency or simply to make something easier. The truth is that many people have suffered from a badly designed process in the past, resulting in what many people describe as “jumping through hoops” to get to their desired end-point.

Whilst in most cases an organisation’s process does need to be robust, secure & auditable it does not have to be a burden on those trying to complete daily tasks. The problem is that although it is possible to represent a complex process in a simple manner it is equally true that a simple process in the wrong hands can be described as highly complex, confusing those within it and costing money in lost time, lower employee engagement and potentially higher consulting or implementation fees.

How can you simplify your business processes?

How do you express your process in a simple manner without losing the required controls, checks & balances? External consultancy is one option but this can be expensive and how much does a consultant really know about your organisation? If there is a skill in a defining a process in a simple manner it is to be objective and open-minded. The following simple tips have helped me and Deltek clients I have worked with over the years, maybe they will help you:

1. Be open minded

Is there more than one way to solve the problem? Are the controls in the right place? Are there any industry standards or starting points that can be used? 

2. Be realistic 

The simple is often the best solution. We live in an age where our assumption is that everything should be automated and available online and there are definite advantages to this but you should not let technology slow the process down if a simple paper-based signature works just as well 

3. Be clear 

Can you describe your process in a diagram in less than 3 minutes without additional text? If you explain your process to a third party can you do so without your colleagues needing to add to your explanation? If not, you need to re-visit and refine. 

4. Have a purpose

Why does the process exist – are there clear outputs that everyone understands? It’s far easier to implement a process if everyone knows what they are getting from it. From correct client billing, to the corporate KPI’s, the process should be a means to an end and not the goal itself. 

5. Back it up

Any process needs supporting systems and buy-in from the top. Process definition is an opportunity to define a new standard and this will likely involve change so make sure you have the backing to see it through.