Business Process Management – how can we do it effectively?

Sebastian Grzesik

How do we manage business processes so that the company does not create chaos, but a customer-, service- and goal-oriented organization that syncs well together? In this guide you will learn:

  • What exactly is a business process and what does it have to do with IT?
  • Does business process mapping make sense?
  • Are there tools to support digital business processes?

Listen to "Zarzadzanie Procesami Biznesowymi - jak robić to skutecznie?" on Spreaker.

1. Introduction

When I think of business process the situations that come to mind right away are:

  1. The invoice the supplier sends to the company’s front office and which then waits to be paid, as it is passed from department to department;
  2. A holiday request that an employee makes during an important period in the company;
  3. A call for help/support with a project, sent to various departments, e.g. legal/graphics/marketing;
  4. A customer orders a “green product,” while the company only offers a “blue product.” This situation triggers a number of processes: the sales department asks the production engineers about production costs, delivery times, production profitability, etc;
  5. An invoice that should be addressed to several departments of the company, but lacks the manager’s approval.

Each of us has come across one of these at least once. Looks uncomplicated, but when we realise that these are not our only tasks in the organisation and that not everything depends on us, it often proves to be a challenge. For success, we often need our collaborators, their willingness, time and commitment, as well as the company's organisation and ability to cooperate.

The situation becomes even more complicated when a company experiences a sudden increase in orders, a drop in employment, a reorganisation of tasks, extended supply chain times or other dynamic interactions with the environment.

If we treat each of these situations as a business process, it can open up a new perspective for us:

  • structuring, a business process that improves the implementation quality but also highlights limitations
  • scaling business process are scalable (both physically and electronically)
  • monitoring, where mathematical observation provides answers as to whether or not we are progressing towards the business objective.

2. Describe it in the language of process

If you work in a company where business processes are carried out intuitively, you are uniquely positioned to change the way your company works and initiate a technological revolution.

The solution is BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation)

In line with the definition of OMG, the organization that created and promotes BPMN 2.0, we learn that Business Process is:

What is a Business Process? A defined set of business activities that represent the steps required to achieve a business objective. It includes the flow and use of information and resources.

So in each case we need:

  • a business objective, or in other words knowing what we want to achieve
  • flow, or what needs to be done and in what order
  • information and resources to fill our process with information and the necessary resources

Let us first imagine a situation related to making a delivery making a delivery and paying a supplier’s invoice. We can use the following conceptualization:

1 (1)

or use a role-based description like this:

2

If we assume that the diagrams reliably represent the process, then it should be helpful to simply describe in words and visualize what exactly is happening. If only we can get the supervisor’s approval to describe process and convince our colleagues that doing so makes sense, here are the benefits:

  • improved internal communication because we all understand the workflow process in the same way;
  • improved customer relationship, as the customer can understand what steps the procedure involves and what needs to happen for his payment to be cleared;
  • better structured process, as everyone has a chance to understand what role he/she plays in the process and how “we do it”.

Once we know the undeniable benefits of BPMN, the next question is: What can we do with it next?

3. Business processes and financial savings

I believe that financial savings are one of the main reasons to support the concept of process implementation in a company. Cost optimisation (OPEX savings), facilitated by the digital transformation of a process from a purely intuitive reliance on human memory to a highly structured series of steps to guide us to the goal.

Using our example, I think we can assume 2 basic scenarios:

1 - when the organisation is stable, it grows slightly but is keen to reduce operating costs 2 - when the organization is heavily influenced by external or internal factors and is concerned about scaling revenues

What approach do we use to make mathematics work in our favour? I think that, as with any change in an organisation, there should be some alternative cost. In our case, this cost represents the time spent educating and implementing a structured process. This is well described by a J-Curve (specifically relating to investment, but business processes are also a kind of investment):

What Is a J-Curve? A J-curve is a trendline that shows an initial loss immediately followed by a dramatic gain. In a chart, this pattern of activity would follow the shape of a capital “J.”

Understanding the J-Curve: A J-curve is useful to demonstrate the effects of an event or action over a set period of time. Put bluntly, it shows that things are going to get worse before they get better.

3

In short:

  • Every change requires effort, both organisational and financial
  • The effects may exceed our expectations, so they should be calculated from the very beginning, using a return on investment (ROI) calculator.
  • Władysław Bartoszewski said Not everything that is worthwhile pays off, not everything that pays off is worthwhile – as an afterthought to our idea, you need to consider what costs you will need to pay to implement change (sometimes even the most profitable changes don’t make sense)

4. IT supports business!

Information technology is the great treasure of the last two decades. We use its benefits almost every day – from mapping our route on google maps and contacting friends on FB, to working in companies.

So if you feel that you like the business process scenario described here, take a look at:

przepływ faktur w firmie

As you can see, by using the simplest tools to manage business processes in a company, we can not only manage it easily, but we can also extend a holistic approach to selected areas in which the organisation operates.

To this end, a whole class of applications called low-code/no code has emerged in IT, also known in some countries as workflow platforms. It is a huge market of applications whose only task is ... creating other applications! Using such a platform, we are able to easily build dedicated applications to support specific business processes in the company – with little or no coding (hence the name low-code/no code). It might look similar, but it has nothing to do with low-level coding :)

5. Other examples of use

It is difficult to write about business process management without citing any specific examples, so below you will find some popular applications that we deal with in our implementation practice. You can read about other case studies here. I have divided them into areas because we often deal with them in projects involving the business needs of a particular department or organisational unit:

Management:

  • a process that fills timesheets and sends them for approval to a supervisor
  • entry register management for individual rooms (production area, clear room, - approach to a workstation, specific machine)
  • SLA management in a service desk
  • task queue management,

HR:

  • new employee on-boarding, preparing the relevant tools (equipment, permits, etc.)
  • employee off-boarding
  • salary review and performance review (you can also read about it here)

Sales:

  • Progress tracking for assembly/installation processes at the customer’s site
  • Complaints
  • Gathering feedback regarding a service or purchase

Finance:

  • acceptance of services rendered
  • breakdown of costs by cost centres
  • acceptance of invoices (if invoice over x amount then ...)

Operations:

  • service catalogue – ordering equipment and services for internal use
  • acceptance of requests
  • request handling (for repairs, services, events)

Structuring of business processes and their migration to IT in the coming years is inevitable. If you would like to learn more about our experiences, best practices or simply exchange insights, I am available to talk to you in a free-of-charge consultation meeting of 30 minutes here.