Contrary to what it might seem, answering the question “who does what, when and with what?” is actually difficult to answer for those companies that do not have transparent and accessible processes. Each activity carried out by a company are business processes: customer service, billing, sales, support, etc. Precisely, business process modeling tries to answer the above question and, as a result, helps to better understand and structure workflows. Only those who know their processes from beginning to end can optimize them and, consequently, achieve their business objectives with greater efficiency. Achieving process transparency thanks to their visual representation is no longer enough. Maintaining, adapting and improving existing processes is just as important as communicating changes to those affected in a timely manner, complying with internal and external regulations and guaranteeing quality. Nobody could foresee that a global pandemic would force companies and Public Administrations to drastically change the way they work in just a few weeks. This same year, the war in Ukraine has forced a rapid change in the way in which many organizations carry out their activities, that is, their business processes.
Business process modeling helps to better understand and structure workflows
Small companies with simple business processes can quickly adapt to changes, but it is not easy to make changes in organizations with many employees in multiple branches and departments. In this type of organization, it is essential to have clearly identified -and well documented- the processes to make changes in them. In this way, each employee knows their role and their responsibilities, avoiding errors and improving coordination between departments to achieve more efficient processes. In addition, the activities that make up the process are not always the same nor are they carried out in the same order (for example, payment can be made when the order is received or when it is delivered, by card or in cash, etc.). In other words, the different variants of the process must be considered.
Unfortunately, many companies use tools that are not intended for process modeling (PowerPoint, Excel, Visio, etc.). Surely you have ever seen in a workshop, in a care center, or in some other organization, a sheet stuck to the wall with a list of tasks that serves as a guide for employees. For example: 1.- Request documentation from the client 2.- Register in the system of… 3.- Go to dept. X for diagnostics Well, it’s a way to document and communicate the process, but there is clearly room for improvement. Imagine that every time there are changes, the new list of tasks would have to be sent to all employees to print and paste on the wall. That is why it is so important to have a specific tool for modeling processes that is easy to use and that allows -in addition- to communicate the processes to all employees. This updating and communication of the processes is very important and is usually one of the most common mistakes in many companies that make a significant effort to document their processes, creating extensive and detailed manuals, which are kept in a drawer (or in a folder in the intranet) and that no one consults as they are not easily accessible and are generally out of date. Since change is constant, optimizing business processes through digitization should be viewed less as a one-time event and more as a recurring activity. The format in which the process models are represented also plays a critical role. Nowadays, having the right tool is essential. There are specific tools that allow processes to be digitized and changes to be made easily, guaranteeing corporate governance. In addition, they facilitate internal communication, making processes accessible to all employees, regardless of their location or language. In recent times, most companies have launched, or are considering launching, initiatives to automate processes that help them ensure efficiency and increase quality. However, when they start the automation project, they realize that they don’t know the process well and must spend time analyzing and improving it, or risk automating inefficient or superfluous tasks. As a summary we will say that, although it is important for any company to model and document its processes, it is essential for companies: – With complex and/or long-lasting processes. – Operating in changing industries. – With a lot of interaction between departments. – With many staff additions. – That they are obliged to comply with regulations and receive inspections.
By Antonio Sánchez Arnanz, Business Director of GBTEC Spain