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Business process management. Part 1. Why bother?

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Reading time 4 min
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Project management *Product Management *

This is the first post in a series on Business Process Management (BPM). Having worked as a business analyst and product manager in various companies ranging from middle-sized startups to big corporations, I have observed differences in approaches to business process management - from almost complete disregard to excessive attention. So, I decided to share my views on the topic, why I think BPM is important, especially when a company grows fast and switches from the startup stage to a grown company, and what approach I think might work for a company of average size without involving too much time and resources.

I expect this series to comprise three separate posts: 

  • In this first post, I'll give an overview of why BPM deserves attention and time. My hope is that this article will inspire readers to consider the value of BPM and how it can be used to improve their own organization's BPs. If it's too obvious, you can just skip it.

  • The second article is going to be more of a "how-to" - how to start with BPM at all and what should be considered and done, step by step.

  • In the third post, I'm planning to provide an example with approaches and software suitable for each step.

1. Why most Startups do not pay attention to BPs

  • Rapid growth and changing priorities: Startups often operate in a fast-paced environment where priorities and strategies can change quickly. This may lead to a lack of stability and consistency in business processes as startups may need to adapt and pivot rapidly to keep up with market changes and competitive pressures.

  • Resource constraints: Startups often operate with limited resources, including time, money, and manpower. As a result, they may prioritize immediate tasks that directly impact their growth, such as product development or marketing, over establishing formalized business processes.

  • Lack of awareness: Some startups may not fully understand the importance of effective business processes in ensuring long-term sustainability and scalability. They may not be aware of the potential risks and inefficiencies that can arise from inadequate business processes, and thus may not prioritize them.

  • Overemphasis on growth: Startups are often under pressure to achieve rapid growth and scale their operations, especially if they have secured funding from investors. This growth-centric focus may lead to a neglect of business processes, as startups may prioritize short-term gains over long-term operational efficiency.

2. Why bother?

When companies grow rapidly, they often face several challenges with their processes. Here are some common problems that companies may experience:

  • Lack of scalability: Processes that worked well when the company was small may not be scalable as the company grows. This can result in bottlenecks and delays that can slow down operations and impact customer satisfaction.

  • Inefficient workflows: As the company grows, workflows can become more complex, and it may become difficult to maintain efficient processes. This can lead to a decrease in productivity and increased costs.

  • Communication breakdowns: As the organization grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure that all employees are on the same page. Communication breakdowns can lead to mistakes, delays, and misunderstandings.

  • Resistance to change: Employees may be resistant to changes in processes that have worked well in the past. This can make it difficult to implement new procedures and technologies that are necessary for growth.

  • Lack of standardization: When companies grow quickly, they may not have time to standardize their processes across different departments or locations. This can lead to inconsistencies and inefficiencies.

  • Increased risk of errors: As the company grows, the volume and complexity of its processes increase, which can increase the risk of errors and mistakes. This can lead to quality issues and customer dissatisfaction.

It's crucial for a company switching from a startup to a grown one to recognize the value of efficient business processes and strike a balance between agility and stability to ensure long-term success.

3. How BPM can help

  • Efficiency: Processes help businesses become more efficient by establishing standardized ways of doing things. This ensures that work is done consistently and effectively, reducing the risk of errors or inconsistencies.

  • Consistency: Processes ensure that products and services are delivered consistently, which helps build customer trust and loyalty. Consistent quality and delivery can also lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

  • Cost control: Processes help businesses control costs by identifying inefficiencies and waste. By analyzing and optimizing processes, businesses can reduce costs, increase profits, and remain competitive.

  • Risk management: Processes help businesses manage risks by establishing procedures and protocols to identify and address potential risks. This helps to mitigate the impact of unexpected events and reduce the likelihood of business disruptions.

  • Continuous improvement: Processes provide a framework for continuous improvement, allowing businesses to analyze and refine their processes over time. This helps businesses to stay relevant, adapt to changing market conditions, and improve their competitive position.

4. When it’s time to start working with business processes

While it's never too early to start thinking about BPs, there is definitely a time when you should start before it's too late.

I believe a company should start thinking about business process management when it has established its core business model and identified its key processes. At this point, it becomes important to streamline and optimise these processes in order to improve efficiency and productivity.

In addition, a startup should consider business process modelling, automation, monitoring and optimisation when it's experiencing rapid growth or expansion. This can help it identify any bottlenecks or inefficiencies that may be hindering its ability to scale, and implement solutions to address these issues.

Another important time for a company to consider BPM is when it's seeking investment or funding at a relatively late stage. At these stages, investors are often interested in companies that have well-defined processes and efficient operations, as this indicates that the business is well-managed and has a higher chance of success.

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