By David Singletary
Have you ever really noticed a process at your business that’s been in place seemingly forever? As you take a closer look it doesn’t appear to be the best way of doing things, so you ask the logical question: “Why?”
In response, your team collectively shrugs and says, “Well…that’s how we’ve always done it.”
It’s time for a business process review.
Business process reviews are important because they’re conducted by a professionally trained and experienced third-party source that sees your entire company from both a treetop and ground view. This is a wider-angle perspective than any of your management team is likely to see things. For instance, your sales manager knows nothing about the steps taken in distribution, but the kinks there can have huge repercussions in sales.
In addition to the old “this is how we’ve always done things” red flag, here are a few more leading cues that it might be time for a business process review.
- Your business has grown exponentially over the last five or 10 years.
- You have no formal or written training program or refresher courses.
- You’re still managing large portions of your business via spreadsheets and your company isn’t taking advantage of the latest technologies for simplifying and streamlining work processes.
- You’re about to conduct an ERP search.
The main purpose of this exercise is to promote transparency and allow your organization to improve upon its current practices with a clear, detailed visual representation of workflows. You'd be surprised at how little your team members understand the work that others do, even though their inputs or outputs are crucial to job function down the hall or in the next office or branch facility.
A formal business process review might involve every department in your company. Or perhaps you’ve identified one department or process that seems to be your weak link.
It’s not necessarily a matter of changing things up. A process review might reveal that you’re already conducting business in the most logical and productive manner. But it can be empowering to hear that from a trusted impartial party. It’s also strategically beneficial to have your activity flow mapped out graphically for the sake of new-hire training programs and so that nothing is lost if a long-time supervisor leaves or accepts a promotion.
Before Your Next ERP Search
It’s worth pointing out again that a business process review is critical before you consider your next enterprise resource planning (ERP) review. That activity will probably result in the investment of considerable sums for a new software system to run your business. Don’t lock in current practices for years to come without first satisfying yourself that those practices and processes are the most productive way of operating your business.
David Singletary is a software project manager at Wiss & Company LLP with 15 years’ experience conducting business process reviews. You can reach him at (973) 994-9400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.