When you’re going through a digital transformation, there’s one area that should get more attention than anything else: your business workflows and business processes.
Your workflows are the most fundamental way that you conduct business. They govern how you work on a day-to-day basis. Yet they can also be just as much of a handicap as a tool for success. It all depends on how you approach them.
And if you’re trudging along through your business workflows, you’re approaching them the wrong way.
Here are our top ten tips to streamline your most time-consuming workflows and turn them into an asset.
1. Create a Master Business Process Flow
The first step seems simple: create a master business process flow. In other words, visualize and write down how your business process actually works.
The keyword is seems.
What we’re talking about here is business process mapping, which is a visual representation of every step a business takes from start to finish. In doing so, you document the entire process.
This is an important step, as it forces you to conceptualize every part of your business–including some that might not have occurred to you. The simplest way to get started is to think in terms of inputs, processing, and outputs.
2. Detail Each Part of the Process
This brings us to the second, related tip. When you map your process, you need to detail each and every part.
Yes, every part.
That means each and every customer and staff-facing interaction. If it’s an interaction, it’s part of your business process, and it needs to be visualized and documented in detail.
This is what allows you to understand how your process works. It’s easy enough to just write down a step and call it even, but that lends itself to disregarding the finer points of what makes each step tick. Instead, take the time to detail each step. In doing so, you have to think critically about how each step really works–and where it doesn’t work.
That way, you can shed light on some areas you might not think about, and identify inefficiencies you might have otherwise overlooked.
3. Describe & Visualise How the Best Process Would Flow
Once you know how your business process currently works, you can think about how it could work better.
What should your BOS (Business Operating System) look like? What should your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) look like? What are your ideal workflows?
This brings you to the next important question: how can your current workflows and processes evolve from where you are now to where you need to be? What needs to be streamlined and cut? And what tools do you need to get the job done?
4. Research All the Technology Providers
You could try to develop those solutions on your own, but that would be inefficient. And since we’re here to streamline your processes and simplify your workflow through digital transformation, your best bet is to turn to an expert third-party provider.
The good news is that there are a lot of options. The bad news is that you have to find the right one for your organization.
As you look into business operating systems and business management software, ask yourself:
- What are my top three most important solutions?
- What are the most important areas to drive efficiency?
- What needs to change to make each step in my process more efficient?
- How can this tool help me drive efficiency?
- Are there extra features that I need?
- Are there extra features that I don’t need?
Just as you detailed your business processes and workflows, document the details of each potential solution.
5. Create a Request for Proposal to Send to Suitable Suppliers and Consultants
Next, you have to create a request for proposal (RFP) to send to potential suppliers. There are three points to keep in mind when writing an RFP:
- Figure out what you want
- Figure out what you need
- Figure out what’s possible
There’s a happy medium between what you want, what you need, and what’s possible. Think of it this way: there’s no reason to buy a Ferrari when a bicycle messenger could get the job done just as well. Itemize what you want, balance it with what you need, and streamline it with what’s possible (i.e. budget or operating constraints).
6. Analyse All Vendor Submissions
Got your RFP sent out and your submissions in front of you? Time to sort through your options.
Before you do anything else, do a preliminary check for completeness and clarity. Any omissions or ambiguities should be clarified by the vendor. If there are any submissions that just aren’t the right fit, or just aren’t very good, now is the time to discard them.
From there, create a spreadsheet detailing your business requirements (this should be easy to do based on the RFP triage you did earlier). This will allow you to score all submissions using the same grading scale and objectively assess who is the best fit for your needs.
Next, assign an importance value and a performance value for each requirement to weigh them. This should be on a scale of one to ten, unless a feature is so important that you would immediately discard a vendor who didn’t have it.
Next, go through each submission with a fine-toothed comb. Performance value will likely be the hardest to score–this is when you score the vendor based on how well they perform for each requirement. Once you have a complete scoring sheet, calculate each vendor’s score.
7. Select a Winner
Your analysis gives you the tools you need to select high performers. From there, you can weed out the winner based on price, suitability, experience, and local support.
Look for a vendor that matches your budget, provides the right experience, matches your company well, and, of course, has plenty of local support to help in case something goes wrong.
8. Implement a Pilot Solution
You’re not done yet!
Once you’ve chosen a winner, it’s time to craft and implement a pilot solution with a limited number of super-users to provide proof of concept. Think of it as the test flight for your solution. This gives you a chance to iron out all the kinks, resolve any major problems in advance, and reaffirm that this solution is the right fit to streamline your business processes.
Give the pilot run a few weeks of earnest effort. That way, you can get past the initial adjustment period and ensure it really works.
9. Approve and Roll Out to All the Business
If it passes with flying colours, you’re ready to roll it out to your whole business.
Work with your vendor to craft a multi-stage rollout plan. This gives you a chance to train your employees, make sure the new process is well-understood, and ensure strong adoption across the board. Make sure to listen to issues as you go so that you can make adjustments.
10. Review and Readjust Accordingly
Once the solution is firmly in place, don’t break out the champagne. You have to keep on reassessing your solution to make sure it continues to be a good fit and continues to maximize efficiency.
The good news? You already have the tools to review and readjust and improve. Just follow the same initial steps you took at the start of this process and score the solution. Then, make adjustments as needed.
The Smarter Way to Manage Your Business Processes
At the end of this process, your digital transformation should deliver a BOS and CRM process that dramatically improves your business’s past inefficiencies. Instead of processes and workflows that slow you down, you’ll have a system that drives success. All it takes is careful attention and dedicated effort. You’ll be amazed by the difference.
Need Help streamlining your business processes – Let’s Talk.