How to Identify and Prioritize Business Processes For Improvement

Identifying a process refers to management activities that aim to systematically define the set of business processes of any organization then establishing clear criteria for selecting specific processes, for improvement. The outcome is a process architecture, which represents the processes, and their interrelations. This article will give you guidance on How to Identify and Prioritize Business Processes For Improvement

All businesses have processes. However, not all of them have put in the time and effort to identify, map and analyze those processes, for efficiency. In the initial stage of BPM, you become a detective. Your work is to find clues and map your way through the value of your business. This is an important initial 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 process identification, we’re not talking about modeling those processes just yet. You will do so eventually, but right now, you’re just taking account of the processes that are already in place, within your business.

Identifying A Business Process

1. You can begin by asking the following questions: “what do we want to achieve with business process management? What are the problems and issues you would want to address? After that, you can now identify the business processes associated with those problems and issues.

2. Think on how these processes correlate with other processes in your organization. For instance: a manufacturing organization may focus on improving the effectiveness of the product assembly process. Before the product can start being assembled, you must have all the pieces available in hand. This means that the product assembly process correlates and interacts with the materials ordering process. After the product has been assembled, it has to be moved or stored somewhere else. This means that the product assembly process will also affect the warehousing and logistics processes.

3. Go on in finding these connections until you have pointed out all your organization’s processes. You should have a map or chart of all the processes and how they correlate.

4. If you haven’t already, it is now time to identify your process stakeholders. These are the people who have a “stake” in the success of the process. Depending on the process, this might include the directors, heads of department etc, but it should include the people who use the process daily. They may often have many ideas on how to improve the process already.

5. Choose the process that you want to improve through Business Process Management [BPM]. Once you know which processes you would like to start working on, you are ready to go to the next step: mapping out your “as is” processes.

Prioritizing Business Processes

Now that you know your processes, you can start the development of a plan to prioritize on your existing business processes.

Whichever approach that you may adopt, process prioritizing must be guided by this basic principle: Only about 20% of organizational processes have the potential to deliver unique competitive advantage (Pareto’s Principle). If you can identify these processes, half the battle is already won.

APPROACH ONE

Processes in any company can be grouped into core (primary), enabling (support) and guiding (management) processes. Core processes have a direct impact on the business or customer e.g. Logistics, Sales, Customer Service, etc. Guiding processes are for planning and directing the business e.g. Planning & Governance processes. Enabling processes on the other hand, provide reusable capabilities and physical assets that can be used for running the business, e.g. Human Resource Department & IT.

With this approach, you can use the Prioritization Matrix. This helps reduce options to the most effective and least costly among the available choices. You can better make use of time and resources to focus on the things that really matter. See the sample image below:

How to Identify and Prioritize Business Processes For Improvement

At the core of this approach, lies Michael Porter’s Value Chain which recommends adopting a process view of organisations and categorising processes into support and primary processes. Process improvement efforts should focus on activities within the value chain. Process flows may be used to map value-creating activities and illustrate linkages between one activity and another.

APPROACH TWO

Mathias Kirchmer and Peter Franz in their book, Value-Driven Business Process Management: The Value-Switch for Lasting Competitive Advantage, emphasise the need to link strategy, process and execution in order to derive value from BPM projects. Their recommendation is as follows:

1. Identify your corporate strategy. This is necessary in order to shortlist which processes to target for improvement. As the goals of a company change, improvement efforts should be adjusted accordingly.

2. Create a hierarchy of processes and subprocesses – This is called a logical operating model or a process architecture and its main objective is to illustrate the interdependence of processes and guide the business in identifying which areas would most benefit from improvement.

3. Identify the processes that are most critical to delivering value drivers.

4. Examine the business. Knowing what you know about the strategic direction of the organization, assess each process with the following questions: What are the benefits of improving the process now? Would improving this process deliver the benefits you are looking for? Assess the processes in the organization for their capacity to deliver both qualitative and quantitative improvements and then examine their impact on the value drivers (e.g to improve customer service). After arriving at the eligible processes, categorize each one based on its level of maturity and target the least mature for improvements.

5. Create a road map for improvement. This roadmap connects tasks or activities to value drivers. It represents a schedule of deliverables and the responsible parties.

We hope that you now have clear guidance on How to Identify and Prioritize Business Processes For Improvement. Get in touch with us today for the best business process management services in Kenya and Africa.

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