The Six Pillars of an Effective Business Process
Guest post by Finnegan Pierson.
The term “business process” is too broad and may have different meanings to different people. For the purpose of this article, it shall be defined as a task or set of tasks that are designed to achieve a specific objective. Making sure that the tasks your employees work on are the ones that will produce the most impact to your business’ long-term growth and success is key to actually achieving it. Here are the six pillars to eliminating inefficiencies and bottlenecks that are slowing down your business’ growth.
Before you can improve it, you should be able to clearly define your business-specific processes. Mapping it provides a clearer view of how things are getting done as well as deeper insights as to what can be improved. By defining business processes that work and those that don’t work, a business can better allocate its resources and engage its employees and consumers.
Enhance Customer Experience
Customer experience can shine a light on what business processes are broken and in need of improving. Negative feedback from irate customers reveals things that your business lacks, whether it’s slow customer support response or delayed delivery of purchased orders. The former shows lack in customer support representatives while the latter may be due to partnering with the wrong suppliers or couriers.
Redesign Broken Processes
Identifying the broken processes is just half the battle; redesigning it is the other half. It makes sense to work closely with the employees who are directly involved with the tasks you are trying to improve. Their perspective on things may afford new ideas on how to best approach the problem. When making any changes in the day-to-day operations of a business, it’s also best to involve people whose work will be affected by the said changes. Your plans of redesigning existing processes can be met with resistance if you do not involve your workforce or at least notify them in advance.
Ask For Feedback
Feedback from both employees and customers is key to targeting the right processes and making the right changes. Without any feedback from your business’ frontliners, you won’t be able to target which processes are actually hurting your business and which should just be left alone as is. Offer incentives for your customers to leave feedback through an online survey form on your website or from a link sent to their email. But while customers will be more than happy to leave you feedback, employees won’t be as eager to leave their candid opinions, especially negative ones. Make sure to keep all employee feedback anonymous to encourage a higher participation rate.
By understanding where exactly your business’ budget is going, you can start any efforts to lower costs and widen your profit margins. Lower costs doesn’t necessarily mean more effective business processes, but it does give you a longer financial runway to test out new business models and sales strategies. Different ways of lowering costs include renegotiating contracts with your existing vendors, outsourcing tasks to cheaper labor overseas, finding tax loopholes and breaks for your business, and using vacation tracking software and other business technologies.
Most sources of inefficiencies stem from a lack of communication within the workforce. By defining a communications hierarchy, you can get important tasks done without spending a great deal of time communicating directly with the whole team overseeing it. A communication hierarchy institutes minimum effort and maximum impact. Rather than directly communicating with everyone in your business, you only need to talk with a few people, particularly department heads and team supervisors.
Effective business processes are the foundation of every successful enterprise, whether it’s a billion-dollar conglomerate, like Pfizer, or a modest startup, such as IndieHacker. Without each of these pillars constituting the core of your business, it’ll be more difficult to scale, if not impossible. Use the six pillars above as a checklist or template for mapping your business’ day-to-day operations and targeting the processes that need improving.