Successful business operations rely on optimizing people, processes, and technology.
In 2020, when nearly half of the workforce became remote, businesses had to pivot to match their processes to fit the new work environment.
In 2021 and beyond, as we move to steady-state, businesses need to review and embed these new ways of working or prepare to transition again as their workforce returns to the office.
Process management is a method that can help. But, what exactly is it?
This article will cover what process management is, how your business can benefit from effective process management, and the tools you need to optimize your approach.
What exactly is process management?
Process management — often known as business process management (BPM) — is the identification, improvement, and management of a business’s processes.
But it’s not improvement for improvement’s sake.
The aim of BPM is to create clarity and alignment on the strategic direction of the business, maximize the use of the firm’s resources, and increase productivity in business operations.
Why is it important?
Effective process management has several benefits for businesses:
- Enables agility: in ever-changing markets, businesses need to remain flexible so they can pivot their operations.
Mature process management allows businesses to quickly review and adapt their processes and remain responsive to unforeseen situations.
- Promotes efficiency: good process management means continually monitoring and optimizing business processes.
This means bottlenecks are quickly identified and resolved, reducing delays. Automating processes reduces risk as it removes the possibility of human error.
- Increases visibility: part of an effective process management approach involves assigning ownership, which means someone is responsible for overseeing and monitoring each process.
Information from the process owner plus data from automation improves the transparency of reporting and enables timely insight into operational performance.
- Increases revenue potential: 46% of businesses surveyed felt that process management offered a route to cost savings and increased revenue.
Mapping an organization’s processes clarifies where costs could be reduced or time saved through process improvement.
Optimizing some processes — such as lead times for product sales — can also directly increase revenue.
- Increases employee engagement: comprehensive process management includes identifying opportunities to automate repetitive administrative tasks. This means employees can focus on tasks that add value to the business.
Feeling purposeful increases employee engagement, and it frees up time for employees to focus on other areas such as their development, increasing engagement levels further.
- Promotes a culture of continuous improvement: embedding an effective process management approach fosters a culture of improvement.
Process owners and wider employee groups should be encouraged to feed back innovative ideas that optimize processes and increase productivity and be rewarded for doing so.
What are the stages of process management?
There are 5 key stages in the process management lifecycle.
The analysis stage is an important pre-step before the main process management lifecycle kicks in.
At this stage, the business should identify its business processes and analyze which it wants to improve.
Compiling data on every metric used to measure performance should provide a strong indication of those that are the least efficient.
Business analysts can use qualitative and quantitative approaches to gather this data. These may include value-added analysis to measure each process’s contribution to the business or cause and effect modeling to identify efficiencies.
During this stage, the current process — or “as-is” state — should be drawn out and the ideal future process — or “to-be” state — designed.
The aim is to create a sequence of logical steps that visually document the end-to-end process.
Once these steps have been documented, additional information may be added, such as the time and duration of tasks, where they occur, who is involved, and how information flows through the process.
After the process is fully mapped, end-users should review it to ensure its accuracy and check the improvements proposed in the “to-be” state are really likely to deliver value.
At the implementation — or execution — stage, the “to-be” state is adopted into the business.
This may require the addition of technology, procedural updates, or changes to resourcing, training, or ways of working.
Where possible, it can make sense to trial the “to-be” process on a small group or single function first in order to monitor the impact and iron out any teething problems.
During the monitoring stage, the “to-be” process is allowed to run freely while data is collected on its performance.
Information should be gathered about whether the re-designed process is effective and whether the expected improvements are being seen.
Comparing relevant metrics with baseline data from the “as-is” state should enable the business to determine if there is a worthwhile return on its investment.
Performance data can also inform decisions as to what steps should be taken next.
At this stage, the process is continually refined based on information gathered in the monitoring stage and as the business changes over time. Process automation may be introduced to reduce the effort spent by employees on repetitive, manual tasks.
Sometimes — as the business grows or its external environment changes significantly — processes become sub-optimal or overly complex.
In these cases, it may be worth creating an entirely new process to support the changes. This is known as process re-engineering.
Strategies to optimize your process management
Process management offers a traditional methodology to embed and improve your business processes. But, like any tool or approach, it can be applied well or applied poorly.
Here are 5 strategies to optimize your process management:
Once processes have been established or optimized, it’s important to create a process owner.
Assigning ownership means there’s someone responsible for ensuring the new process is embedded in the business and isn’t something that falls away once momentum decreases.
Having a process owner also means there’s someone familiar with the end-to-end process who can continuously assess if further improvements could be made.
Build a culture of continuous improvement
Speaking of further change, it’s important to create a culture of continuous improvement within the organization.
Taken seriously, this can be extremely beneficial to an organization, as they can source good ideas from employees closest to the processes involved.
Organizations can add creative thinking and problem-solving as desirable skills to job descriptions within the recruitment process.
And there should be visible and accessible feedback mechanisms that reward innovation and process improvement ideas.
Standardize repeated processes
It’s crucial to ensure that processes that are repeated throughout the business — such as procurement or recruitment — are standardized.
Standardizing processes reduces the likelihood of error and mitigates risk.
It also makes it easier for cross-functional teams to be productive and simplifies the process for onboarding employees who are moving between internal roles.
Optimization before automation
It’s tempting to think that automation is the fast track to improving your process management. Automation of repetitive, administrative tasks frees up employees to focus on tasks that add real value to the business.
However, it’s important to optimize the process before you automate it. Without taking the time to review and improve processes, automation just makes the same (imperfect) process run faster.
Which, depending on the errors or inefficiencies in the process, can actually make things worse for your business.
Value performance over perfection
Where it’s possible to do so, focus on improving an existing process rather than building new ones. The point of process improvement is to drive gains in performance, not to achieve the “perfect” process.
Focus on the desired outcome when organizing and sequencing work rather than the tasks themselves.
Making smaller changes and monitoring their effect means value can be increased sooner. Sometimes the delay involved in creating a radical new process can reduce the potential value to be gained.
Tools to support effective process management
While organizations can do process management manually, it is far more efficient and cost-effective to use business process management software.
As we have explained in this article, effective process management is more than just optimizing a single workflow.A mature process management strategy requires an understanding of how process optimization contributes to business goals and visibility of how changing one workflow impacts wider operations.
Process management software can help you achieve that. In fact, 75% of businesses said software helped them achieve their process management performance goals.
So, what should you be looking for in effective process management software?
A core feature of any platform should be its ability to manage the modeling, implementation, and monitoring of processes.
monday.com makes it easy to get started on this with its ready-to-use business process management templates.
And — like everything in monday.com — they’re fully customizable, so you can design, model, implement, and monitor your processes in a way that makes sense for your business.
Plus, we know it works. Alachua County Fire Rescue department adopted monday.com to run all their core processes and workflows. This means they have a single system for both their day-to-day operations and to manage their emergency response.
With monday.com’s workflow visibility and reporting dashboards, it’s easy for Alachua County to monitor process performance and proactively make improvements.
Read more about Alachua County’s story here.
Analytics and reporting
Choosing a platform with the data analytics and reporting functionality to help you to analyze processes is critical.
Reviewing and analyzing process performance can trigger process improvement, so it’s important that your software solution has that capability.
Plus, once you’ve implemented the “to-be” state, monitoring the metrics you care about helps you understand how effective the new process is and what you should focus on next.
monday.com has a full suite of analytics plus 8 different ways to view your data, which means you have the information you need at your fingertips throughout the process management lifecycle.
Effectively mapping current processes and designing the future state requires the input of multiple stakeholders.
Business analysts are responsible for process mapping, but they’ll need the expertise of end-users to inform the work and the input of other stakeholders impacted by process change.
Plus, implementing a new process requires change and may need people to work together differently to make the new process a success.
In monday.com, stakeholders can create, share, review, and annotate documents, plans, and workflows. They can also collaborate in-platform, which means communication happens in context.
monday.com also integrates with over 40 other apps, so if you’ve already got a way of collaboration that works for your team, monday.com can slot right in alongside it.
For mature, optimized processes, the automation of repetitive, manual tasks can create additional value and reduce the likelihood of human error.
Enabling employees to focus on more purposeful work has the side benefit of increasing employee engagement.
Which is helpful as employees who are invested in a business’s success find it easier to adapt to changes that drive business benefit.
With monday.com, it’s easy to automate tasks to boost team efficiency and engagement.
Any event that happens with the platform — such as a change in task status — can trigger an action. Automations can remind you of deadlines, notify someone of a change, or add new tasks to a workflow.
Process management increases efficiency and creates value
In this article, we’ve looked at process management, why it’s important for your business, and 5 strategies to optimize your approach.
Plus, we’ve shared the key features you need to look for in business process management software to support the implementation of effective process management into your business.
Why not get started today with our business process management template?