To make your best business, it is important to establish successfully streamlined business processes that make your everyday practices easier and more efficient.
If you’ve ever worked for any major fast food joint or retailer, you’ve been handed a giant handbook of business processes to learn during orientation. Companies like Target or Starbucks have boiled down their daily practices into step-by-step directions that should be easy to understand and accomplish to save time, money, and energy. Essentially, these big companies have outlined the necessary steps to succeed. With explicit directions, it should not take long or be difficult for their employees to learn how to efficiently use a specific point-of-sale system to interact with customers or an espresso bar to make a drink.
That big book of directions given to new retail employees at orientation is a product of Business Process Management (BPM). Nathaniel Palmer defines BPM as “‘a discipline involving any combination of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement and optimization of business activity flows, in support of enterprise goals, spanning systems, employees, customers and partners within and beyond the enterprise boundaries.’” In other words, BPM analyzes your daily processes from start to finish, finds the best way to effectively execute them, and teaches your employees how to best practice their jobs day in and day out.
Using BPM in your small business will give you a competitive edge since properly synthesizing your daily activities leaves less room for errors and makes sure your time and money are spent well.
Beginning to implement BPM into your business is easy: just start out where you are. Take stock of what daily practices you already have in place, then think about what you can do better. Ask yourself what works regarding your business practices and what you could change to create an even better business. One of the most important steps is to clearly define your goals as a small business. It is also important to know your goals as a business so that you can begin to plan your processes around making the best return on your investments and address your clients to the best of your company’s ability.
Gartner, a business advising company, has this great graphic to show the steps of integrating BPM into your workplace. The primary goal of BPM is to consistently foster greater business processes to turn out better products and services for clients. By driving the value of your practices to align with your business’s goals, you in turn enhance client experience with your company. Focus on how to make your processes client-directed to gain more profit and to identify which practices in your business are most important to best serve your customers.
Most importantly, strategize, plan, and write out your processes in order to easily share with your employees. Having a properly outlined plan is integral for BPM so that miscommunication does not occur between business owners, managers, and employees. If your processes are easily accessible and comprehensible, then you’re well on your way to successfully managing your business practices. Why do you think those major retailers send their new hires home with so much educational material?
Don’t be afraid to better use technology on both ends of the business: for clients and for employees. For potential clients, if your website clearly outlines company procedures and past client experiences, then they’ll quickly be able to decide whether they’d be a good fit for your business. For employees, utilize technology to make their learning materials intelligible and attainable online, which will also help you more easily adapt and update the expectations and processes of your company as time dictates.
Remember that BPM is process to be be improved over time, so make sure to check in on your processes to see whether they are remaining successful. Nothing is set in stone, and any time that your processes could use a tweak, don’t be afraid of upgrading them. Stagnation is the death of success in the realm of small business, so if something isn’t working don’t be afraid to change it. BPM is all about flexibility and versatility in finding the best practice for your business.
Creating better daily practices is an important part of making your business successful. Don’t sweat the process though! Start where you already are; think about how you can better enhance the practices you already have; keep client satisfaction in mind; strategize, plan, and write out your practices— preferably electronically so that they can easily be adapted; and remain flexible to the ever changing world of business. If you follow these steps, BPM will be a lot easier than you imagine.