Ever seen a pit crew at work? The F1 guys who replace tires in a blink? Seen them at work? They're lightning-quick and a delight to watch. And they’re the best example of skilled process management. You should design your business process flows like that. Honestly!
Process flows at the pit stops have each step charted out. Each crew member knows what to do and when. The wheel gunners can’t tighten the nuts unless the new tire is in.
You, too, need orderly flows. That’s what can build a system of consistent, recurrent and transparent operations in your business. And that’s where business process flows come into the picture. Once implemented, everyone, at every point, will know what to do now (and next).
So, this is an article digging into process flow economics. The goal is to arm you with different process flow tools for streamlining business processes.
Let’s dive in.
What are business process flows?
A business process workflow is a visual representation of each stage and step in a process. It illustrates all the tasks to be performed, and in the order, they have to be completed.
“Business process flows are a visual representation of various stages and steps in a process. They standardize the tasks that need to be performed; in the order of completion.”
Process flows help you standardize the flow. Whether creating a contract, sending an invoice, or handling customer complaints, each process has standard operating procedures (SOPs).
For example, a typical sales business process flow begins with a phone/Zoom call. It initiates a cycle, to be pedaled in unison by the team.
Abhishek Shrivastava, senior engineer in the valves manufacturing industry, lays out their sales process for large industrial clients in seven steps:
- checking and reviewing order requirements from tender.
- approaching the client with the product catalog.
- pitching their rates and services with past track record.
- following up and attracting with better offers or quality.
- warming the client with ad hoc consulting.
- inviting them for production site visits.
- closing the deals with the spellbound client.
Now, those were the business process flow stages in sales. Similarly, each business process needs standardized documentation. In absence of standardization, you drive your project into a pit. And the available help might not be as efficient as F1.
What can efficient business process flows do?
Business process flow documentation helps you define your workflow. It’s a guide directing you to complete a task. And it helps you with business process optimization to target team efforts resourcefully. Documented process flows streamline your entire operation.
Here are some of the many benefits of business process flows:
1. Improve clarity in work
Business processes and flows standardize your operations and lay out the basic guidelines. Your employees know what to do and how to do. Process flows also give your employees autonomy over their work. You define each step and role in advance, thus not having to micro-manage every time.
2. Increase team productivity
Comprehensive business process flow docs help everyone to stay aligned and collaborate. Processes can be standardized and replicated across all verticals. Without them, you can run into multiple project management risks. Business process flows also help automate business process and improve implementation when needed.
3. Optimize resource management
With all processes mapped out, you get an overview of how and where your resources are tied up. You understand exactly how everything is working together. So, you can better assign your resources, in a way, that realizes their full potential. With optimal use of resources, you’ll also be minimizing the running costs of your daily operations. Sounds like a plus?
4. Reduce extensive training needs
It can take new employees a few weeks to a few months to get used to their new environment and system. Employees need a human touch to form a connection with the organization. And it’s near impossible to personally attend to the needs of each. Documented processes help in such cases. They help new staff get up-to-speed quicker and avoid mistakes.
5. Help with industry compliance
Transparent business process flows also ensure your compliance with industry standards and regulations. The rules bring uniformity in product/service quality. And you have the necessary records and documentation in place to account for the consistency across your organization.
Check out the various workflow documentation tools
How to Document Business Process Flows?
Now, here’s a simple 5-step process to document your process flows:
1. Choose a process to document
A business has tens of processes, each with hundred different sub-process flows. For example, an employee logs in to your system (or website) to update new client records. They update 57 of them, and log out. It’s a simple task. Still, a lot of things can go wrong. A typo is easy to fix, but a problem with numbers might snowfall unless checked.
So, it’s best to document each process in your universe and their sub-process flows. Pick one to start with before moving on to others.
2. Identify the main components
Next, define the essential components of the process. What do we mean by components? Process components include the scope of the process (beginning and end points), the list of activities, and the resources needed to complete the task. Ah, one more thing! The process’s objective, key outputs and the KPIs (if any) are also important. Define them, too.
The entire exercise can be tricky. You need to ensure you cover everything. So, get your team together to brainstorm. Here’s how to document a business process. Proper documentation is the base for efficient process flows and their optimization.
3. Structure a flow diagram
Once you’ve all the details about your process, structure the activities. A business process workflow diagram provides that necessary structure. You can also add images, sticky notes and other paraphernalia. Start with a rough draft, consider inputs from the stakeholders, and prepare the basic structure.
It’d be better manageable if you go digital. You can choose mind-mapping tools like XMind or whiteboarding tools like Miro to represent the process visually. Next, you can use a business process modeling tool like Scribe to document and finalize the flow.
4. Assign user responsibilities
With an effective assignment of roles, each team member understands exactly what the team expects from them. It helps them coordinate well, and the business runs smoothly. So, once you’re done charting the process flows, define user responsibilities
At this stage, you’ll also be able to identify repetitive processes. It paves the way for business process automation. Automation can save 240 hours per employee every year.
5. Integrate the flow in a BPM
BPM (or Business Process Management) solutions bring different processes together. They provide an overview of all the functions so that you can optimize.
With BPM software, you can automate repetitive tasks and improve productivity easily. Seventy-five percent of BPM users believe that tech has helped them accomplish their goals. You can pick a BPM tool like monday.com for this purpose.
When you have set up everything, test your processes thoroughly. Ensure everything works as intended before deploying them throughout. Another thing: take regular feedback from your team members.
How to train your team?
All employees can benefit from your improved business process flows. However, they need to understand the new system to get the best out of it. Only when they know the ins and outs can they adapt. When employees are trained properly, they can better focus on work, thus improving the overall efficiency of the organization.
Start by creating SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for team members to follow. Then, make a knowledge base of helpful guides, screenshots and videos for reference. Seventy percent of employees feel overwhelmed when the information isn’t available in one place.
Not sure where to begin?
Scribe process documentation is here for you. Scribe is a collaborative tool to record clicks, take screenshots and create instructional guides for training.
You can automate process flow documentation with Scribe, instead of explaining each process painstakingly. And once you have the documents finalized and organized, you can pass them over to your team smoothly.
Scribe integrates well with your existing tools for easy access. Scribe integrations are available for Confluence, monday.com, Notion, Zendesk and many other tools.
You can even put together all your Looms, Docs and written snippets with the help of Scribe Pages. It keeps everything organized in one place, in your very own Scribe workspace. This will be your online library of documents and guides readily available for reference.
Improve business process flows with Scribe
Improving and managing business process flows doesn’t have to be cumbersome. Not more than they already are. So, identify the problem processes, document them and build business process flows that work for you.