BMS: Business Management Systems – the Benefits of a Process ApproachEmma Harris
This is a fair question, as businesses can be managed without taking a process approach. Indeed, traditionally management systems and particularly quality management systems consisted of lots of text based policies and procedures – without a process in sight!
However, now that most business management systems are software based, a process approach is far easier to manage and the resulting benefits are multiple.
Firstly though, what is a process approach? Indeed what is a process?
What is a Process?
A process is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end - a process is a transformation. It transforms inputs into outputs. For example, a process is the mechanism by which raw materials are converted into products, so baking a cake will involve taking various ingredients (inputs) and producing the cake (output) using the recipe (process).
What is a Process Approach?
Taking a process approach to business management, means thinking of what your organisation does in process terms. This is basically thinking of what the organisations does as a transformation of inputs into outputs.
Indeed the ISO (the International Organisation for Standardisation) defines a process as a "a set of interrelated or interacting activities that transforms inputs into outputs."
This is easiest to envisage where a raw material is transformed into a finished product (as in the cake example above) but is in fact also the case for more intangible transformations. For example, this week I have been transforming my time and use of a computer into a Newsletter.
So now we come back to the question – why take a process approach?
And the answer is, because those organisations that perform the transformation of inputs into outputs (their processes) well, generally manage to meet or exceed customer expectation. And those that do it best are invariably the most successful.
Process Mapping for Your BMS
In practical terms, the start point for taking a process approach is to document your business processes as process maps.
Process mapping is an exercise to identify all the steps and decisions within a process in diagrammatic form which:
- Describes the flow of materials, information and documents
- Shows the various tasks contained within the process
- Clearly shows that the tasks transform inputs into outputs
- Indicates the decisions that need to be made along the chain
- Demonstrates the essential inter-relationships and interdependence between the process steps; and reminds us that the strength of a chain depends upon its weakest link
The image above is a process map of the cake baking processes. The image below is a process map of the recruitment process.
Because a process map is visual – it is far easier to understand and follow than a page of text. If the process mapping is done well, the detail captured in the process maps will match the detail required by the intended audience.
The exercise delivers significant benefits to an organisation both in terms of the output – your end-to-end business processes captured as a process map – and through the doing of the actual activity.
Process Model – the benefits
The output of a process mapping exercise delivers a process model of your organisation. By this I mean, what your organisation does, captured in interconnected process maps.
If captured and presented in an effective Business Process Management system, which can easily be searched and reported upon, it will provide a blueprint for your organisation or a manual for how it works.
This will be invaluable in so many ways:
- A visual, easy to follow model of what everyone in your organisation should be doing. It has been estimated that people working in organisations can waste about 15 – 20% of their time by re-doing things that are wrong, chasing things without result, querying incomplete instructions, doing other people’s jobs and so on. With a process model in place they just need to look and see what they should be doing.
- One source of accurate information, which links to supporting information such as policies and forms if needed.
- A model of how the organisation works today, so that decisions to make changes are made with a true understanding of how the process currently works.
- Provided that your BPM system also allows you to capture and report on data regarding the system, the process can also be measured, managed and improved.
So, process mapping enables problem areas such as bottlenecks, capacity issues, delays or waste to be easily identified and then provides a solid basis from which to develop solutions and introduce and plan new improved processes.
Process mapping and a process approach enables an organisation to:
- Establish what is currently happening, how predictably and why;
- Measure how efficiently the process is working;
- Gather information to understand where waste and inefficiency exist and their impact on the customer or partners;
- Develop new, improved processes to reduce or eliminate inefficiency.
Process Mapping – the benefits
Completing the exercise of process mapping, in itself, delivers a great deal of benefits. Providing that those who do the work are involved in the process mapping, it promotes a process approach across the whole organisation. During the capture, people will start wondering why something is done that way and start thinking of ways to do it better.
People will think about what happens next to what they deliver and best of all, people will start thinking in process terms rather than departmental.
So adopting a process approach has multiple benefits both in terms of the adoption and what can be achieved with a process model of your organisation.
Triaster see the benefits that our customers derive from taking a process approach every single day. If you would like to read about some of these please click on the link below.
Written by Emma Harris
Emma was Operations Director for Triaster for nearly 20 years, during which time as well as learning and perfecting her BPM and process improvement skills, she honed her inbound marketing expertise. She now runs D2e - Designed to engage - which designs and develops bespoke, engaging, HubSpot CMS websites, that help your entire company to grow and scale. She is delighted to still be delivering Triaster's marketing, whilst also helping other companies turn their websites into their hardest working asset.