Many of us have been frustrated by a particular process, either as a customer or as an employee.
Maybe you’ve experienced something that took longer than expected, where you had to jump through hoops that made no sense, or where you could clearly see the process could run more smoothly.
Process analysis is the first step to making processes better. It helps businesses uncover inefficiencies and plan changes to improve things.
In this article, we’ll dig deeper into what exactly business process analysis is, why it’s important for your business, common signs a process needs improving, and how to start making that happen.
What exactly is process analysis?
Process analysis is the first step in a wider methodology called business process management (BPM). BPM is all about identifying inefficiencies in business processes and taking action to improve them.
But, you can’t improve a process without first understanding it. And that’s where process analysis comes in.
Process analysis involves mapping out a current process and then identifying bottlenecks or redundancies that make the process less than effective.
How does process analysis benefit your business?
Process analysis — and its role in process optimization — benefits your business in 3 main ways:
- Identifying inefficiencies. Identifying inefficiencies is the first step to reducing them. Whether that’s process delays, work duplications, or opportunities for automation, analyzing the total workflow enables you to spot where improvements can be made.
- Decreasing costs. Unsurprisingly, inefficiencies lead to rising costs. These costs may include things such as poor use of human resources or reduced speed-to-market.
Process analysis helps you to spot potential areas of cost-saving. In fact, 46% of businesses believe effective process management has the potential to cut costs.
- Improving employee engagement. Sub-optimal processes cause frustration for employees. If a process is complicated or clunky, it can decrease productivity which is irritating for team members who can see a better way.
Plus, repetitive, manual tasks can decrease motivation. Identifying software solutions for these tasks helps create more purposeful work for employees, which leads to increased engagement.
When should you undertake process analysis?
To keep your processes running smoothly, it’s worth doing process analysis on a regular basis. This also keeps your processes aligned with any changes in your business or the wider market.
However, you don’t have to wait until your yearly review to do process analysis. If you identify a process that seems inefficient, carrying out an ad-hoc analysis is also a wise idea.
Some signs that a process is ripe for review are:
- It’s taking longer than expected for the work that’s involved
- Feedback from employees suggests a process is sub-optimal
- Feedback from quality control or customers indicates that output quality doesn’t meet expectations
- The process seems resource-intensive for the work that involved
- The costs associated with the process are higher than expected, impacting the return on investment
Of course, these are just an indication that something might be wrong within your process.
There are other factors that could create the same signs. You won’t truly know whether your process is inefficient until you do a thorough analysis.
The 5 main steps in process analysis
Here are 5 steps to follow when conducting a process analysis:
1. Determine which process to analyze
The first step in process analysis is deciding which process to analyze.
For routine reviews, you may choose processes that are run frequently throughout the business, such as recruitment practices, employee onboarding, or project initiation. Or a financial approvals process such as claiming expenses or managing purchase orders.
Or you might choose to analyze a newly implemented process to check how well it’s working. Or a process you know has a significant business impact.
Or, of course, you may have received one of the signs we outlined above and decide that an ad-hoc process review would be sensible.
2. Collect information about the process
Once you’ve chosen a process to analyze, you need to collect as much information as possible about how the process currently runs.
This might come through documentation — such as operating procedures or quality manuals — or through interviewing people doing the job and their managers.
If you can, it’s also worth observing the current process in action so you can see how all the stages fit together and how work is handed off between teams or departments.
Don’t skimp on this stage. It’s worth taking the time to thoroughly investigate how the process works, so you’re totally clear on it when you move to the next stage.
3. Map out the existing process
The third stage involves mapping out the current, or “as-is” process. This is a crucial stage as it allows stakeholders to visualize what the individual process actually looks like in practice.
Taking all the information gathered, you’ll need to organize it and present it in a logical, structured way.
There are several ways to do this, including simple business process flow diagrams, business process mapping and notation workflow diagrams, swimlane diagrams, and SIPOC.
SIPOC stands for: suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs, and customers. It’s different from other techniques as it doesn’t arrange the process steps in order of when they happen. Instead, it focuses on each of these 5 elements of the process separately.
Once your process mapping is complete, it might look something like the flowchart below:
4. Analyze the process
By this stage, you probably have a pretty good idea of where the existing process may hide inefficiencies. This is your opportunity to probe process performance further using simple questions, such as:
- Which steps in the process are most impactful? How could we improve those steps?
- Which steps are dependent on others? Does this dependency slow the process? Could it be removed or modified?
- Are any of these steps unnecessary?
- Where are there unexpected delays in the process? What causes those delays?
- Could any steps be streamlined by additional resources or technology?
- What is the resource requirement throughout the process? Does it match expectations?
Don’t do this step on your own. It’s important to involve stakeholders — including role holders who are close to the work being done — in the analysis.
5. Identify potential improvements
The final stage of process analysis is to identify possible improvements that could be made in the process.
Using everything you’ve learned through the analysis phase, it’s possible to spot areas that could be refined for the future. What those areas are — and how you should change them — will be unique for your business and organizational goals.
Remember that, at this stage, improvements are hypothetical. You’ll need to put them into action and monitor them to really see whether they drive the changes you’re hoping for.
To that point — it’s at this stage you move from analysis to improvement and join the wider business process management lifecycle at the design phase.
For more information on the wider business process improvement lifecycle, check out our article on business process management.
How to analyze and improve your processes with monday.com
The monday.com Work OS is a fully customizable digital platform with the building blocks to help you create processes that suit you and your business.
With monday.com, it’s easy to visualize how work gets done.
Our process management template clearly shows the process steps, where tasks are getting stuck, and how long things should be taking.
Plus, it’s easy to assign ownership, so you know who to talk to if things need improving.
monday.com also has the full suite of analytics and data reporting that’s crucial when analyzing processes.Monitoring resource utilization or tracking the time associated with task completion may provide early signs that a process is functioning sub-optimally and trigger process analysis.
And while business process analysts may lead on completing the analysis, stakeholder input is vital to effective process analysis.
monday.com makes collaboration simple with the ability to share, view, and annotate work in real-time, @tag colleagues for their opinion, and communicate in-platform or via integration with your favorite tool.
Process analysis enables optimization and improves ROI
If you’ve got a sub-optimal process in your business, you’re likely aware of it.
You might have received feedback from frustrated employees, or perhaps your metrics are trending in a direction you don’t want them heading.
Process analysis is the first step in identifying process inefficiencies and the first step in improving them.
Why not get started today with our process map template?