Ensuing Optimal Business Processes

Using business process frameworks

If this is new to your business, help is at hand. There are established business process frameworks for different sectors that you can explore in order to increase the efficiency of your organisation’s staff, structure and technology.


1. What business process frameworks are there?

There are currently 3 well-established and proven business process frameworks for different sectors: APQC, eTOM and SCOR.

A.  Cross-industry business process frameworks

The APQC process classification framework (PCF) has been widely adopted by businesses, and contains both generic cross-industry guidance and a range of industry-specific frameworks, including for finance, utilities, petroleum, healthcare, retail and education.

Originally designed to help in performance improvement projects, it enables organisations to assess their performance against competitors and other businesses from across industries. As you establish your business processes, the PCF’s common terminology can help to label, order and map them.

B. Telecomms, IT and digital industry business process framework

For digital, telecommunication and information technology organisations,there is a specific and successful framework called the Enhanced Telecommunications Operations Map (eTOM), focused on customer support and satisfaction. Developed by TM Forum, eTOM analyses the required business processes for service providers, and provides guidance on the most important aspects and how they should be structured coherently.

It covers 3 main process areas:

  • Strategy, infrastructure and product
  • Operations
  • Enterprise management

C. Business process framework for supply chain management

Developed by the Supply Chain Council, the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) is used mostly for industries in supply chain management. The model is structured around five management processes – plan, source, make, deliver and return – and allows you to assess supply chain performance both within your business and in comparison to competitors.

2. Business process management

Business process management takes things a step further by automating your business process to further improve efficiency. The key benefit is to free up your employees for the more valuable work of analysing information generated and providing the best data-driven decisions for your organisation – read our article on creating an effective FP&A team to see why this is so critical.

By using various methods to model, assess, optimise and automate business processes, it ensures that they are as efficient and effective as possible, continuing to run smoothly and to be able to be improved over time (refer to blog on: Evolution of the finance function! Not Finance Transformation!)  as resourcing and technology allows.

Key aspects include:

  • Focusing on outcomes, not individual tasks, to meet business priorities.
  • Optimising processes before automating them, to ensure the most effective outputs.
  • Establishing processes and assigning ownership for monitoring and maintaining the improvements.
  • Standardizing processes across your organisation to provide employee clarity and reduce risk. Business process mapping can assist with this (see below).
  • Improving existing processes rather than starting from scratch, to ensure improvements are seen rapidly.

If you need a more sophisticated approach to business process management you can also use simulation tools to run processes virtually. This can help identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies related to either staff or technology.

3. Business process re-engineering

Sometimes, however, simply optimising processes is not enough.Should your analysis lead you to discover major flaws that threaten your organisation’s existence, you may need to take radical steps – this is known as business process re-engineering.

It involves enforcing major change in an organization – eliminating fundamental aspects of processes, management or approach that staff are used to and creating something entirely new. While such a fundamental rethink can help businesses both improve customer service and cut operational costs radically, this obviously presents great challenges both logistically and for employee management.

A. What does business process re-engineering involve?

The key to business process re-engineering is to start with a clean sheet of paper and a focus on your business objectives, and completely reimagine how best they can now be served in terms of process, technology and employees. This ‘enterprise transformation’ can mean a complete change rather than iterative improvement, and buy-in is crucial, but it can also be transformative to an organisation’s fortunes.

B. Implementing business process re-engineering

A transformative approach, business process re-engineering is likely to impact everyone in the company seriously, and sometimes negatively. Should automation be a key feature, fear of job losses will obviously arise – and will come into the equation – but employee buy-in is critical. In this case, the importance of having the right people to pinpoint and analyse the most business -critical data successfully, allowing the organisation to make the best decisions – and the value and reward those people would have – could be emphasised.

Sometimes, there is resistance even from those who are not threatened. This could be evidence of an employee culture t
hat needs improving as part of the re-engineering – indeed as one of the first aspects.

4. Business process mapping

If you have now established the right processes and a way to continually assess their effectiveness, the next step is to ensure they are kept to and deliver the effectiveness you need. To help your staff understand, embrace and follow the right methods, business process mapping can really help, by allowing employees to visualise the steps they need to take and guiding their decision making.

A. What is business process mapping?

A graphical representation with illustrative descriptions of how things get done, business process mapping can identify strengths and weaknesses in current processes to keep them improving continually.

They should include the process’ inputs, outputs and steps, and use clear language and symbols that are quickly understood by all staff leveraging. Additionally applying process mapping models like FAST methodology and tools like SKORE helps capture processes, engage teams and improve businesses.

There are 2 main types of business process maps:

  • Process flowcharts: a simple visual representation of the sequence of a process, along with the points where employees need to make a decision.
  • Deployment flowcharts: provide the interactions between different departments and the roles performed by different people in the organisation.

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