Designing a good process is essential for achieving high levels of business performance. Business process design is a big topic and there are many ways to go about it. For most of us, time is a limited resource. This article will ‘crush’ its way through the topic to help you with your own business process design. 

My intention is to help you get a quick start with your own business process design activities. To do this, I am going to share two specific perspectives and then some concluding ideas.

Process Flow Analysis

The process flow analysis approach has some interesting points that we can use. I have extracted some of the key elements of this approach that we can use with the design of our processes.

When you perform a process flow analysis you look to understand the make up of your process, with regards to:

  • Operations
  • Transports
  • Inspections
  • Storage
  • Delays

During the analysis you capture the time taken for each element. If there is movement involved, you capture the distance moved.

Applying these points to business process design a few pointers come to mind:

  • Have the least amount of operations possible.
  • Don’t involve movement / transport into the process, unless you have to.
  • Minimise inspections by building in quality.
  • Limit storage, with the goal being of activating the process on demand.
  • Eliminate all pauses and obstacles so the process flows (and has no delays).

Lean approach

Another powerful approach for business process design is the Lean approach. A fantastic way to drive out cost and increase productivity, it has five key steps:

  • Define value
  • Map the value stream
  • Achieve flow
  • Move to pull
  • Perfection

The points provide these business process design considerations:

  • Be crystal clear about the purpose of the process you are designing.
  • Shorten the value stream as much as you can. This means the fewest steps and least time.
  • Kick away any obstacles within your process. Flow should mean that the process starts and doesn’t stop until the end.
  • Align your process with customer demand. Let the customer ‘pull’ the process when they need it. This can only work if you have a short, fast, process.
  • Embrace continuous improvement to further drive performance gains. Lean is people centric. This means engaging with your team and having an ongoing discussion around improvement.

General ideas

Pulling these two approaches together, what does this mean for your business process?

The following list is by no means a definitive checklist. It is a good place to start your business process design from however.

  • Keep your business process as short and as fast as possible.
  • Make it easy to learn and easy to document.
  • Aim for foolproofing wherever possible.
  • Allow for easy measurement of performance.
  • Incorporate visual management methods and be easy to manage.
  • Define standards of performance that everyone can understand.

Whether you have an existing process, or are designing a new one, the above list is good to reflect on.

A good business process design will benefit many factors. It should make the process safer for everyone involved. Quality should also improve whilst costs reduce. Customer satisfaction can also improve from improved delivery performance. Don’t overlook your business process design efforts!

Giles Johnston
Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer that spends his working life helping businesses to become more organized, more efficient and get back in control.

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