A complete guide to business processes
Are your business processes working for you or against you? This guide will help you decide how to improve your business processes if they’re holding you back.
What are business processes?
A business process is a string of business tasks that, together, accomplish a goal. Business processes are:
have specific start and end points.
Why are business processes important?
Establishing robust business processes helps your operations run smoothly and make sure nothing is overlooked. When you optimise your business processes you can:
If your business processes are manual, it can take time to figure out the best way of doing things. So once you’ve determined the necessary tasks — and their order — within a process, it’s important to document that information. This way, the next time someone needs to complete that process, they’ll know exactly how to proceed.
Reduce opportunity for error
When you document your processes and communicate them to your team, you’ll help prevent errors, oversights and bottlenecks that can increase your operational costs and negatively impact your customer experience.
Your processes may be essential for maintaining compliance and minimising liability. This is particularly the case if your business operates in a heavily-regulated sector.
Types of business processes
You can categorise your business processes into the following types:
Core processes are essential to how a business operates and generates revenue. They dictate how a business creates products or performs services, with the goal of satisfying customers.
Support processes don’t directly generate revenue, but they help a business execute core processes. For example, human resources processes support core objectives by recruiting the right people to fulfil essential roles.
Management processes involve planning, overseeing and optimising core and support processes. Senior leadership, such as the Chief Financial Officer or Chief Marketing Officer, are responsible for these processes.
Examples of business processes
To operate effectively, most enterprises have business processes, tasks and activities they need to perform across the following workflows:
internal and external communication
Accounting and tax
Despite increased digitisation, most businesses still maintain some manual processes.
How do you create business processes?
If you’re scoping and documenting a manual business process, bear the following in mind:
1. Keep it simple.
Be direct, and define any proprietary business terms that your new hires might not understand. Number each step in the process so it’s easy to follow.
2. Provide context.
Briefly explain the point of the process and how it supports business goals.
3. Be comprehensive.
Include all of the information someone would need to execute the process, such as contact information for internal stakeholders and links to business forms.
4. Plan for training.
Think about the different ways in which people learn. You might want to create an accompanying video tutorial about the process, create a digital walk-through or hold short in-person training sessions for teams.
How do you improve business processes?
If you haven’t automated business processes for best practice, you’ll need to continue to refine them yourself:
1. Review annually.
Plan to review business processes once a year to ensure they’re still relevant. This is especially important for any compliance-related processes as government regulations may change yearly.
2. Analyse data.
Review data to spot any problems that might indicate weak points in your business processes. For example, if you’ve had several stock outs in the past quarter, you may need to revise your supply chain management processes.
3. Gather feedback.
Processes belong to everyone in your company, not just senior leadership. Once you roll out a process, ask employees for feedback. Is it working as intended? Do they have suggestions for improvement?
4. Identify new needs.
If your business changes in some fundamental way, you’ll likely need new processes to run the business in a new context.
5. Evaluate software.
By digitising and automating business processes, you can streamline operations, increase efficiency and productivity, and lower costs. A business management platform optimises and integrates your processes, giving you visibility and control across all your workflows.
What to look for in business process automation software
With “good” digitisation, you can transform your business processes and operations, delivering increased productivity, lower costs and real strategic insight. Look for the following features:
Scalability means that a software platform gives you the features you need now, and you can add features as you require them. As a result, you’re only paying for what you need at a given time.
When evaluating software to manage your business processes, make sure it offers workflows to suit your needs or industry requirements.
If you’re managing sensitive data like customer payment details or employee payroll, choose software that offers enhanced security. You’ll want a platform with ISO 27001 Certification, which is the international standard for digital security and risk management.
If you accept credit and debit card payments, you should also ensure software conforms to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which protects customers from data breaches and credit card fraud.
If you’re using Shopify, Tall Emu or other business applications, make sure any business management solution you’re considering will integrate seamlessly with these apps.
With the right business process software, you can automate reports — and avoid mistakes that occur during manual reporting.
If you have a field sales team or other employees who travel for work, business process software with mobile functionality can be helpful. For example, employees can use a mobile app to scan receipts, report expenses and complete timesheets.
In-person, classroom-style training just doesn’t work for some businesses, especially if they have remote workers. Business process software with on-demand training lets workers explore features on their own schedule.
With any software, ease of use and a great user experience is important. However, it’s also important that you have support for any questions that crop up. Is there a help centre, community forum, or real-time chat feature available to support you?
Optimise your business processes with MYOB
MYOB is a business management platform that allows you to manage all your business workflows in one place. You can digitise and automate your business processes for your customers, employees, supply chain, projects, finances, and accounting and tax.
With digitally-enabled best practice, your business processes will no longer cause you a headache or steal your time and attention. MYOB provides you the visibility and confidence to get on with what you do best – running your business and delivering for your customers.