Streamlined workflows are the key to business efficiency. But even when it comes to a business process you’ve been doing the same way for years, there’s always room for improvement. Maybe you can digitize some of your processes or automate recurring tasks so they take less time or require less human input.
Often, businesses leave these changes up to individuals or use trial and error to figure out what works best. But by conducting a business process analysis, you can use data to make informed decisions about a process and determine which steps to alter or automate.
Here’s what you need to know about conducting a business process analysis, including who should perform it and how it differs from other kinds of business analysis.
What Is a Business Process Analysis?
A business process analysis (BPA) is a way for businesses to analyze and optimize their workflows using standardized tools such as process diagrams and flowcharts. It can be used to modernize outdated practices, as well as to review current processes to find opportunities for improvement and optimization.
Business process analysis is a component of business process management (BPM), which encompasses multiple analysis techniques. A business analysis takes all of your business operations into account to ensure that individual processes are aligned with your overall business goals, while a business process analysis is a much narrower methodology that focuses on a specific process.
How Does Business Process Analysis Work?
There are several business process analysis methods to consider, each with their own tools, templates, and area of focus:
- A root cause analysis can help determine the underlying cause of a problem and find potential solutions.
- A gap analysis is used to address a disparity between your existing processes and your desired performance benchmarks or key performance indicators (KPIs).
- A SWOT analysis identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), often in relation to new technologies or market competition.
- A value-added analysis can help you eliminate steps that don’t add value to a process and prioritize those that do.
Although you can conduct a business process analysis in-house, many organizations prefer to outsource the job to a third party. A business process analyst uses tools such as Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) to depict complex processes in an easy-to-understand way. They may even use artificial intelligence to crunch the numbers and help you make data-driven decisions about your workflows.
Key Benefits of Business Process Analysis
Sometimes a business process analysis arises out of necessity: An existing process is having a negative impact on your bottom line. In other cases, you may simply want to verify that a new process aligns with your business goals, or use a process flow diagram to look for opportunities for business process improvement.
Here are three ways a process analysis can lead to a new or improved process:
1. Identify Bottlenecks and Inefficiencies
Workflow inefficiencies can take many forms, including bottlenecks and redundancies. Maybe information is stored in separate data silos so that employees can’t access it in real time. They may need to either enter in the same data twice or wait for a reply from someone in another department before they can move forward.
Business process mapping and other business process analysis tools can help you visualize these inefficiencies so they’re easier to identify and eliminate.
2. Increase Employee Satisfaction
A business process analysis can also help you identify time-consuming tasks that don’t really need to be done manually. This is commonly found in legacy systems that still rely on printed paperwork or traditional Excel spreadsheets.
Once you’ve identified these tasks, you can use automation to eliminate them, freeing up your employees to focus on higher-level decision-making. Many HR processes, such as employee onboarding, can benefit from business process automation, resulting in a better user experience and greater employee satisfaction.
3. Gain a Competitive Advantage
Business process analysis can help to improve your bottom line in obvious ways, such as digitizing processes in order to cut down on labor costs or paperwork. But you can also use business process analysis to inform big-picture decisions about your organization.
When you have a clear view of individual processes, you can more accurately measure the success of a new process or initiative. You can use standardized metrics to make better decisions about resource allocation and workforce planning, and ensure that you’re keeping up with new technologies and regulations.
5 Steps to an Effective Business Process Analysis
In most cases, a third-party business analyst will take charge of your business process analysis. Still, it’s important to know how an analysis works so you can understand the outcome. Here are the five steps to an effective business process analysis.
1. Define Your Goals
First, decide what it is you want to accomplish with an analysis and how it will tie in to your long-term business goals. This will help you determine whether to conduct a root cause analysis, a gap analysis, or another type of process analysis.
You’ll also need to define the existing process, or “as-is process,” which your business process analyst will use to shape their research. What are the inputs and outputs of your current process? How much does the as-is process differ from the process described in your workplace documentation? Do you have an existing workflow chart or diagram?
2. Gather the Details
Next, gather as much information as you can, including hard data related to finances, operational capacity, and other metrics associated with the current process. This will allow you to assess the process against KPIs, and also to monitor the impact of any changes to the process over time.
But this step isn’t just about numbers: You may also want to interview employees and other stakeholders to find out their perspective on the process. Although a business process analysis can help you locate bottlenecks and inefficiencies, you may need human insight to get to the bottom of them.
3. Analyze the Process
Now, you can use the information you’ve collected to analyze the process. This step may include observational analysis, in which you watch the process play out in the real world, as well as business process mapping, in which you develop a visual representation of the process to identify gaps and bottlenecks.
Although you can make a workflow chart by hand, modern business analysts rely on business process analysis tools to depict complex workflows.
4. Make Changes
Once you’ve analyzed your process, you can identify areas for improvement and make or suggest changes. This can include eliminating steps, automating tasks with low-code or no-code automation, or increasing your staffing levels or resources.
Be sure to record these changes in the form of an updated process map or workflow diagram. In many cases, you can make improvements simply by standardizing core processes so cross-functional teams can work together more efficiently.
5. Review the Results
You won’t know for sure that your business process analysis has been a success until you review the impact of the recommended changes over time. Sometimes, a business process analysis will result in a total workflow overhaul, while in other cases, you may take an incremental approach and only change one or two factors at a time.
Either way, set a date to revisit the process and review your metrics, and to check in with any relevant stakeholders to see what they think of the outcome.
Improve Your Business Processes With Automation
A business process analysis is used to review an existing process, root out problems and inefficiencies, and identify changes to streamline the process. Business process analysts rely on process flow diagrams and other tools to depict complex workflows visually and analyze them against performance benchmarks and other KPIs.
You can use the outcome of your business process analysis to digitize and automate workflows, and to identify other opportunities for process optimization.
Pulpstream is a business process automation platform that can help you automate key steps in your existing business workflows, from workplace safety to HR. Our no-code, cloud-based platform makes it easy for you to optimize workflows and enhance processes across industries, even without an in-house business process analyst.
Request a demo today, and learn how you can get started!