Businesses cannot thrive and grow without efficient business processes in place. From recruiting and hiring employees to sales, marketing, accounting, and managing computer networks, virtually every business function requires a series of processes. The process of business ensure that all related tasks are documented and well organized. In theory, those responsible for carrying out a given process will know exactly what to do and when. However, business methods are not necessarily efficient. Business method optimization seeks to make business method as efficient as possible.
Why Optimize Business Processes?
Some business methods start out efficient but become less efficient over time. For example, as rules and regulations change, you may add tasks to a process in order to comply with the new regulation (Source: “Optimizing business processes”, InfoWorld). However, some existing tasks may no longer be required due to the change. Did you remove those tasks from the process? Likewise, changing one process may affect another process, resulting in unnecessary duplication or tasks that no longer need to be done. If secondary processes are not updated, inefficiency is the result.
Inefficient business processes can result in:
. Unnecessary delays
. Employee frustration
. Customer dissatisfaction
. Wasted time
. Unnecessary use of resources
. Unnecessary costs
How to Optimize Business Processes
Businesses cannot afford to waste time, money, and resources. They cannot afford the risks of errors and accidents, employee frustration, and unsatisfied customers. In order to address these problems, improve productivity, and streamline operations, business method must be evaluated and optimized on a regular basis (Source: “What Are the Best Tips for Business Process Optimization?”, wiseGEEK). One approach to business method optimization consists of just three steps: identify, analyze, and automate.
1. Identify – Identify the process that needs to be optimized. Break down the process into its most basic components. What are the individual tasks that need to be done to complete the activity? What is the activity’s desired outcome? When does the activity begin and end? Who is involved in this activity? Which deliverables, reports, or information is generated or required as part of this process? Are any secondary processes likely to be affected by your changes?
2. Analyze – After identifying the components of a process, the next step is to rethink the process. Look at all of its parts in search of inefficiencies. Ask yourself “what if?” and “why?” and think of ways to reduce waste. For example, “What if we generated PDF copies instead of paper ones?” or “Why are we generating three paper copies for each order?”
3. Automate – As you fine tune the process of business, explore solutions designed to automate it. For example, business management solutions exist for any number of business method such as invoicing and accounts payable (Source: “Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP) for SAP Finance”, Dolphin). Automation can ensure that the workflow is carried out consistently as well as do so more efficiently. Whether automating accounts receivable, invoicing, or any other process, business process automation can deliver substantial cost savings, risk management benefits, and cash-flow improvements.