A guide to business process improvement in 2023
Successful businesses all have one thing in common: efficiency. This means they take the time to analyse their processes and improve them—i.e. they prioritise business process improvement.
Identifying bottlenecks, analysing what’s working (and what’s not) and implementing optimised systems can mean the difference between a stagnant business and one that’s constantly growing.
What is business process improvement (BPI)?
Business process improvement is the act of improving the way you work to get better results. Business processes can be anything from the way you hire new staff to managing the manufacturing process, your supply chain, projects and more.
It’s likely your business relies on multiple business processes across all your key workflows. The goal of business process improvement is to identify which processes could be more efficient, faster, more accurate or eliminated to improve overall performance. Often, this means automating workflows and processes with the help of integrated solutions.
The benefits of improving business processes
When you improve your business processes through digitisation and automation, you can achieve the following:
Consistent processes lead to consistent results. If you’re doing tasks in a slightly different way each time, your results can be unpredictable. Sticking to systemised processes will help you predict future results.
Better decision making
You need knowledge to make good decisions. Digitising your business processes provides better insights into what’s working and what’s not so you can make data-backed decisions moving forward.
Enhanced collaboration between departments
Successful collaboration is impossible if teams are confused about where and how to share information. Tightening up communication between different parts of the business promotes better collaboration and happier teams.
Faster task completion
The work of business process improvement uncovers tasks that are no longer serving your business and identifies ways to complete necessary tasks quickly.
Fewer mistakes because of human error
Putting automation at the heart of your business processes removes repetitive manual tasks and the chance of human error derailing things.
More efficient use of resources
Your team no longer has to spend time working on tedious activities and can instead use their time more effectively to work on big-picture concepts and tasks that move the needle.
Reduced operational costs
Improving your processes saves you time and money. Even when there is an initial spend for software solutions, most companies realise a return on investment very quickly.
How to use trend analysis to identify improvement opportunities
Trend analysis is the first stepping stone in a successful business process improvement plan. It’s the act of exploring current market trends, internal and benchmark data to highlight patterns, downfalls and opportunities.
Examining what other organisations are doing and the digitisation trends of the industry will help you pinpoint where your business sits in the market and identify gaps to fill.
Mapping your existing processes
Start by mapping the processes you already have, identifying the process flows required for different variables. In many businesses there’s little visibility or awareness of what an end to end process looks like, so this may be an important first step in making the business case for automation.
Use trend analysis to collect data from different periods, spot patterns and predict future paths. Identify any bottlenecks and pay particular attention to points of friction. These are the most important areas to streamline so they don’t impact on the overall customer experience.
Exploring potential opportunities
The market is rapidly digitising, so it’s important to explore opportunities for your business or risk being left behind your digitally-enabled competitors.
Which processes need the most improvement?
How can technology help you achieve better outcomes?
What do your customers expect from you?
Implement better processes
Tackle your clunkiest processes first so you can see the benefits of business process automation straightaway. This may serve as a test case for further workflow automation. Make sure your team is onboard and knows how to use the software to its full effect
Monitoring your results
Business process improvement should be a work in progress, not a set-it-and-forget-it activity. Track the results of your changes, measure your metrics against the previous period and monitor them against your overall business goals. With a business management platform, you can monitor:
Are the new processes protecting your resources, money and time?
How have they impacted your key performance indicators (KPIs)?
Have they made a difference to your bottom line?
Business process improvement examples and plans
Automation software manages a business process in the most efficient way, while significantly reducing the risk of human error impacting operations. You can automate most business processes across your key workflows – finance, accounting and tax, customers, projects, suppliers and employees.
Some processes aren’t necessary and could be slowing down your business activities. Further, there’s little value in automating an inefficient process. Automation software has best practice business processes built-in, so it may be worth making some changes to the way you work to align with your software.
Business process re-engineering involves scrapping all your existing processes and starting from scratch. Doing so can help you make sure your people, processes and technology are all working in alignment for best results.
Some processes might need a little tweaking to improve their results, such as removing unnecessary steps or utilising technology for greater efficiency.
Tips for successful business process improvement
Successful business process improvement is strategic and well-planned. Make sure your process improvement is a success by:
using trend analysis to identify patterns and potential opportunities
understanding key friction points and exploring how they can be improved
committing adequate resources to your business process improvement activities
communicating with your team throughout the process
investing in tools and software to digitise and speed up processes
monitoring results to track process improvements and identify opportunities for further fine-tuning.
Tools to improve your business
A cloud-based business management platform collects data from your existing processes and brings it together in one place to bring to light bottlenecks and opportunities. Find out how Thompson Construction & Engineering used MYOB Advanced to bring all its data to the surface.
Business process modelling
Business process modelling tools help businesses evaluate their existing processes and visualise more efficient ones. Tools can include detailed Gantt charts, flowcharts and powerful data flow diagrams.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
CRM tools provide a view of your customers and their engagement with your business. Understanding who your audience is and how they interact with your brand helps you create campaigns, products and support that suit their needs. Find out how Codecom used MYOB Advanced to create a powerful customer portal.
Store and organise your documents in an easy-to-access place. The best document management tools use cloud storage to ensure documents are accessible to key stakeholders at all times.
Project management tools provide a detailed view of where you’re at in each project. You can assign tasks to team members, plot the journey of a task and see who’s working on what at any given time.
Task automation tools carry out workflows autonomously, freeing up team time for higher value work. Adopting automation software improves the accuracy and consistency of your workflows.
Improve your business processes with MYOB
MYOB is a business management platform that allows you to optimise and automate your business processes across all your core workflows – accounting and tax, finance, customers, projects, suppliers and employees.
With best practice business processes built into the platform, you can maximise your operational efficiency quickly and easily, without having the complexity of re-designing each and every process yourself. Unleash your business’ potential with MYOB.