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How to identify your business processes

All businesses have processes. But not all businesses have put in the time and effort to identify, map and analyze those processes for efficiency.

In this first stage of BPM, you’re a detective, finding the clues and mapping your way through the value of your business. This is an important first step because it’s hard to optimize processes if you don’t know where they are, who/what they affect and how they work!

When we talk about identifying processes, we’re not talking about modeling those processes just yet. You will do eventually… but right now, you’re just taking stock of the processes that already exist in your business.

So, what exactly is a business process again?

Business Process - NovacuraA business process is a series of tasks, done in a certain way, that lead to a desired outcome. How does your business make money? Do you make things, sell things, fix things, buy things, or something else? The way your business makes money and the processes associated with bringing in those profits, are your core, or operational, business processes.

One company might have three operational processes while another has 20. It all depends on what the company does, and how diverse their offerings are.

In addition to your operational processes, there are two other kinds of processes:

  • Management processes. These are the processes that oversee operations and make sure things are working properly. Things like quality assurance, budget oversight, and so on.
  • Support or governance processes. These are the processes that ensure the business is in compliance with regulations; things like accounting, technical support, staff training.

The business processes in your company will likely be similar to those in other, similar companies… but they’ll also be unique to your business. They’re like fingerprints: everyone has them, but no two people (or businesses) have the exact same ones.

Examples of business processes

What kinds of processes does your business have? Some example business processes might include:

  • product assembly process
  • order picking process
  • quality assurance process
  • equipment maintenance process
  • fault reporting process
  • customer on-boarding process
  • employee payroll process

How to identify your business processes

BPM by Novacura1. Start by asking this simple question: “what do we want to achieve with business process management?” What problems or issues do you want to address? From there, you can identify the business processes associated with those problems or issues.

2. Think about how these processes intersect and interact with other processes in your business. For example: a manufacturing company may be focused on improving the efficiency of their product assembly process. Before the product can be assembled, you need to have all the pieces on-hand: that means the product assembly process interacts with the materials ordering process. Once the product is assembled, it needs to be shipped or stored somewhere: that means the product assembly process also affects your warehouse and logistics processes.

3. Continue finding these connections until you’ve identified all your business processes. At the end, you should have a map or chart of all your processes and how they interact with each other.

4. If you haven’t already, now is the time to identify your process stakeholders. These are all the people who have a “stake” in the success of the process. Depending on the process, this might include the CEO, department heads, and so on. But it should definitely, without a doubt, include the people who use the process every day. They will usually have a lot of ideas about how to improve the process already.

5. Choose the process (or processes) that you want to improve through BPM. Once you know which processes you want to work on, you’re ready to move on to the next step: mapping out your “as is” processes.