How to review business processes

Reviewing your systems and processes can be a tedious task. Our Chief Operating Officer, Luke Matthews provides some insight on where to get started.

Processes are integral to every successful business.

Sometimes these processes are formal (documented) while others are informal (not documented but still exist).

However, processes aren’t a “set and forget” component of your business. They need ongoing revision and refinement.

Why should you review your business processes?

  • Helps maintain customer satisfaction and improve operating efficiencies.
  • Previously developed processes can become outdated as your business changes with the development of new products and services, customer turnover and technology.
  • New staff join the organisation, with a growing workforce potentially needing new processes.
  • Customer perception of your performance.
  • Adherence to your existing processes generally reduces over time if they are not regularly retrained or staff become complacent.

When should you review your processes?

  • Generally, every two years.
  • If you have a high level of staff turnover, to ensure your existing processes are still be used as intended.
  • If your customer needs or buying behaviour changes or if customer satisfaction drops.
  • When introducing new technology or changing technology within your business (if you are introducing new technology and it doesn’t improve the way you work, you should reconsider whether it’s needed).
  • If / when you notice a change in the behaviour of your competitors, in case they are doing something better.

How do you review your processes?

  • Start with a business process overview – a high level flow chart of the steps involved in delivering your product or service.
  • Talk to the staff that actually deliver your product or services and have them explain the process they use to perform their job. Don’t worry if it’s right or wrong at this point.
  • Develop a draft flow chart that documents the various steps involved in each process.
  • Review the flow chart to identify unnecessary or missing steps. Consult your staff and agree on a final version that delivers the product or services in the most efficient manner possible.
  • Develop a procedure that accurately describes the steps in the flow chart in detail.
  • Publish the new processes and display them in prominent locations such as where the work is undertaken.

What next?

  • Train your staff how to use the new processes, making sure they fully understand them step-by-step.
  • Use the documented processes to induct and train new staff.
  • When something goes wrong, such as a customer complaint, consult the documented processes to see what step(s) was not done correctly and identify any opportunities to improve the process further.

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