Process Management: A Business Essential, Plain and Simple

Process Management: A Business Essential, Plain and Simple

Every business and every organization is governed and kept running by various kinds of processes. Successful companies see their processes change and evolve over time — given the way markets change all the time and how customers and consumers grow and develop different tastes and demands. This is where process management comes in. Process management is essential for companies to continue to keep up with the constantly changing pace of their own respective operating environments. Process management can make or break a company — it can mean better cost-effectiveness, larger profits, more efficiency, and more productivity.

While companies have some semblance of something akin process management like common business processes, the former is NOT the same as the latter. Common business processes can be inefficient, expensive, unreliable, slow, and redundant — to the detriment of the business. A process management protocol, on the other hand, ensures that processes are regularly screened and analyzed for better efficiency, productivity, and cost-effectiveness. It makes use of established and tested methodologies, metrics, models, and analytical processes to help spot points of improvement. The beauty of process management is that it also ensures that any new improvement initiatives are implemented as smoothly and as seamlessly as possible.

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What is (business) process management to begin with?

According to Gartner, business process management is “a discipline that improves enterprise performance by driving operational excellence and business agility.” To use an analogy, think of a business like a car or computer. Process management would then be the system used to make that machine’s parts work in-sync with each other. To put things bluntly, everything fails and falls apart without process management. It’s so integral to business operations that having a poor but set process management is light years more preferable to having no process management. That being said though, just imagine the potential of a business equipped with excellent process management.

Process management is essential for business process improvement, which means the betterment of an organization’s order, insight and efficiency in the various workflows that exist within it. Process management creates order and makes workflow management more efficient and more effective. The aim of process management is for companies and organizations to have not only a solid grasp of the various workflows within itself, but also to be able to tweak and change them whenever circumstances call for it. As a result, the company can deliver products and services in an organized way, while also meeting the majority (at least) or customer demands and keeping itself relevant in a constantly changing market.

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Process management 101

Process management is a particular concern of c-suite members such as the chief information officer, given the importance IT and technology in business as well as its contributions to the efficiency of operations in general. Process management is also a relatively new concept, especially in light of more traditional practices that were largely “play by ear” types that were hit and miss at best. CIOs should ensure that they emphasize the advantage of creating a business process management initiative when trying to get all stakeholders on board. It’s important to foster an environment where people’s mindsets will be more amenable to change — as well as the constant change a business process management protocol will be bound to have.

A business process management initiative should also be seen from the perspective of the consumer. Since consumers today have much more power and influence than they did even just a few years ago, many companies fail to fully appreciate how the more empowered and discerning customer can affect markets. Business process management however, incorporates customer trends and needs (thus the “constant change” we mentioned earlier) and makes them a part of the strategy going forward. Thus, process management is also good for the customer — and happy and satisfied customers mean more business, more profit, and more success.

Process management, rather than being a one time thing, is more of an ongoing initiative. It serves as a template of sorts to help with things like efficiency as well as makes the organization more sensitive to upcoming trends and new customer demands. As Dr. Mathias Kirchmer writes, “systematic and well managed innovation has become a core focus area for high performing organizations.” Kirchmer, who is a thought leader, educator at the University of Pennsylvania, and information systems expert, stresses that process management is the catalyst for all this to become possible.

In turn, this enables the company to respond more rapidly to changes in the market, develop a strategy, and implement the needed changes more seamlessly. Also, while automation is a key component of process management in many industries, process management can exist outside and / or without automation, and include various technologies as well. Process management is a holistic approach and a systematic way of maximizing company resources and capabilities and meeting both internal and customer expectations.

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Benefitting from process management

In a nutshell, process management gives companies and organizations the means to up its process while keeping (or even improving) quality while also keeping waste and expense at a minimum. Process management’s benefits can be felt and are applicable across the board — so regardless of whether a company is young and an up-and-coming player or an established veteran of an industry, process management brings something significant to the table.

Makes things more efficient

We cannot stress this enough: Process management is a BOON for efficiency. Many processes bereft of proper business process management suffer from waste and needless expense due to things like redundancies, poor internal communication protocols, and an inability to oversee and monitor how things progress overall. Process management plays an important role in improving collaboration and internal/interdepartmental workflows, making it a critical component in increasing operational efficiency.

Process management allows decision-makers to take a look at these things and develop measures to eliminate efficiencies, increase productivity, and ultimately, boost the bottom line.

Makes for an agile organization

With customers having access to more information and market forces constantly changing, the successful business is one that is agile and adapt to these changes more rapidly and more effectively. This is key to remaining on customers’ radars and keeping the brand relevant. As new opportunities for profitability, efficiency and other possible advantages emerge due to a number of factors, the organization will also need to implement the necessary changes in order to capitalize on these opportunities. Process management makes this possible by having the right protocols in place to help make the transition to new processes smoother and more effective.

Makes processes effective

With efficiency and agility come effectiveness. Not only does process management allow for more efficient and agile normal operations, it also gives companies the capability to better respond to more complex and unique situations (that also often provide new opportunities for growth and development). Decision-makers become more informed and thus make better decisions for the organization, while at the same time executing initiatives in much more effectively. A more effective organization ultimately means delivering better products and services as well as a customer experience, making it a win-win for all parties involved.

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Crafting your process management initiatives

According to an article in Business Improvement Architects, process management involves 7 steps or stages: Evaluation, stakeholder identification, a look at the current process, a measuring and analysis of that current process, identification of points of improvement, analyzing the causes of inefficiencies and other challenges, and finally the development of the action plan to respond to what has been discovered.

But it is also important to look at how to craft the process management initiative.

Develop a strategy

Create an outline of the initiative, one that stakeholders can relate to and understand. Look at business goals and marry them with your initiative’s goals. It’s also important to go as far as looking at the possible expense (and return on investment) such an initiative will entail. Look at the company’s strategy as a whole as well, and see how you can reconcile the elements of the process management initiative with that strategy.

Engage stakeholders and establish a chain of command

Any initiative is bound to fail if not all stakeholders are on board with the changes that will be made. It’s important to engage them and establish rapport in order to make them a part of the process — as many of them will likely have meaningful and important insights to contribute. This is also essential to creating a shift in the mindset and mentality of all the members of the organization, which in turn will help make the change smoother and more seamless.

Also equally important is looking at these stakeholders and identifying the right people to make decisions in relation to the process management initiative at every level of the organization. This will also help in having a better sense of how the initiative is faring and implementing changes and improvements down the line whenever needed.

Equip and employ the right tools

As in any endeavor, having the right tools for process management is a must. The right tools not only help you get started, but also reinforce and support the initiative after the initial implementation. Like Runrun.it’s Dashboard tool, for example. This allows decision-makers and leaders to measure and assess productivity, collaboration, and a host of other aspects of the operation. As a result, any deficiencies are caught early and improvements can be implemented. Oversight is also made more efficient. The beauty of tools like these is that they can be tweaked and tailored, depending on the organization’s needs. To checkout Runrun.it’s free trial and see how your own organization can benefit from it, head here.

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