Tuesday, December 31, 2013
How can you ensure that your business processes actually help rather than hurt you? Make sure you avoid these five mistakes.
Mistake #1: No Overall Model, Only Details
It's common for people to only focus on the details of how to perform specific tasks. Unfortunately, if your business processes don't have an overall model or goal, the details will be disjointed and inappropriately applied by staff.
Every business process should be part of a bigger business model or philosophy. The process is the "how" of running a bigger system. Just having a bunch of "hows" without a "why" is a recipe for disaster.
Mistake #2: The Processes Are Technology Based
Great businesses use technology. Writing businesses for technology is important. That said, if your processes are completely reliant on technology to work, then you're laying a very weak foundation.
Let's say you have an expense tracking process. The process should focus on the step by steps of tracking expenses, rather than the software itself. That way if the software ever fails or if you ever switch to a new system, your employees will know how to perform the actual tasks, rather than just push the right buttons.
Mistake #3: Not Enough Details
Your business process documentation should be detailed enough that a person new to the job could operate the process with a little guidance.
It's common for people who're competent in a task to write documentation for others in a way that could only be done by people who also have competence in that task.
Instead, documentation should be written in a very step by step manner. It should be written for a new trainee, not for someone who's more experienced.
Mistake #4: Documenting Untested Processes
Not everything in your business should be documented. In fact, you should only document a process once it's been proven and refined to its most efficient form.
If you spend time documenting processes that haven't been proven to work yet, you'll spend a lot of time documenting things and then throwing them out.
Documentation should be done to help train people on things that work. Wait until your processes are proven before doing this.
Mistake #5: Neglecting Human Relationships
Finally, remember that processes often involve human beings.
Say you have a process for handling fulfillment when you're shipping a new product. The documentation might cover how you handle order volume, how to get samples from fulfillment and so on. However, the documentation might not include how to actually interface with the people who run your fulfillment house.
The human element in processes is a crucial element. Make sure you're not neglecting it.
These are five of the most common mistakes business people make when they're automating, documenting or designing business processes. What do you think?