Business Process Analysis : Why is it important and how is it done?
Business Process Analysis (BPA) is a methodology that thoroughly scrutinizes an organisation’s processes. BPA is not in itself the solution to inefficient processes but it should definitely be the starting point for any continuous-improvement project.
Process Analysis determines your baseline for performance, and ensures you are solving the right problem in the best way possible. The last thing you want to do is invest in a new process automation tool hoping it will solve the problem by itself, as you may end up automating an inefficient process.
So how do you do BPA and what do you need to take into account? Below are a few guidelines to ensuring you get the most value out of this exercise.
Firstly, it is important to understand why a process exists and how it aligns to the overall strategy of the business. This makes it very easy to identify redundant steps in the current process. It will also ensure that any proposed solution aligns completely with this goal, ensuring you achieve the required outcomes.
Secondly, it is just as important to understand how you will measure whether the process is achieving the goal. This can be split in two measurable performance indicators for the process:
- What measurable output must the process perform to achieve this goal consistently?
(Example, 10 000 invoices per month with no errors.)
- How can the process be measured to be at peak performance?
(Example, an automated process that only requires an accountant to touch transactions once and a financial manager to review the entire result once.)
Inputs & Outputs
You need to determine which persons or processes give input into an existing process? Who or what are reliant on the outputs of each process? Asking these questions ensures all role-players in a process are identified and their requirements are catered for.
You’ll gain and understanding of the type of data used and the format required. Ultimately, this helps you to track how the different inputs are affecting performance.
This is a whole topic by itself but mapping out the process visually adds a lot of value to the analysis. Doing this in 5-7 steps for the whole process will already make it much easier to identify obvious inefficiencies.
Don’t get stuck in too much detail. You can always refine the process map at a later stage or dive even deeper. Also, focus on the process as it is currently and not how you want it to be. Blurring these two will lead to a less effective solution.
Deviations & Exceptions
Beware of deviations and exceptions to the standard process. These are sometimes what requires the most time and manual intervention. Reducing this can sometimes be a quick and impactful win.
Reviewing is an important quality step in any process. More review does not equal more quality. Understand what review should evaluate, at which step in the process, to ensure this remains an effective function of the process.
Most processes end up with a report, for example, management packs, financial statements, statutory submissions etc. If you exclude reporting from the process you will have an efficient process but a very unhappy person that still has to draft a report manually.
As you go through the analysis, ensure you document systematically along the way. This document will assist greatly in compliance, training, monitoring improvements, baseline for further projects and for building a business case to obtain funding for improvements.
Performing a thorough business process analysis may require a bit of investment upfront but will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. You’ll ensure you are addressing the root cause of inefficiencies and implementing the best solution for your business. This is not a once off exercise, recurring analysis is the first step towards continuous improvement.
Speak to SynergERP for help with your processes.