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How Business Process Optimization Works (With Examples)

Every business has its own way of getting things done, ranging from ad-hoc processes to standardized procedures that have been in place for years. But just because things are running smoothly doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. With business process optimization, you can assess your current processes and make necessary changes in order to streamline operations and improve business efficiency.

Here’s how you can use business process optimization to streamline workflows and reduce inefficiencies, along with some examples from the real world.

What Is Business Process Optimization?

Business process optimization is the practice of streamlining a process so that you can achieve maximum efficiency. A process is any part of business operations that’s made up of a series of tasks, whether or not it’s written down or standardized.

Although business process optimization is similar to related concepts, such as business process automation, it differs from them in a few important ways. Let’s start by taking a look at what these terms mean and how they relate to each other:

  • Business process optimization: Business process optimization refers to the optimization of existing processes to achieve a desired outcome.
  • Business process automation (BPA): Business process automation involves using automation software to automate key steps in a business process. BPA can play a key role in the optimization of an existing process.
  • Business process management (BPM): Business process management is a continuous approach to improving business processes in a way that helps you achieve your overall business goals.
  • Business process improvement (BPI): Business process improvement is very similar to business process optimization, but the focus is on making incremental improvements rather than achieving a completely optimized process.

All four of these concepts are closely related, and rely on some of the same tools and methodologies. The best approach to achieving process efficiency will depend on the state of your current processes and any existing optimization efforts.

Types of Business Process Optimization

Optimizing business processes is intended to achieve specific goals such as reducing bottlenecks, eliminating redundancies, and streamlining workflows. But there are many different ways to optimize a business process, from process mapping to Lean and Six Sigma project management systems.

Here are a few of the most common strategies for business process optimization that you can use to simplify complex processes or redesign them from the ground up.

Workflow automation

Workflow automation uses technology to perform key tasks in a workflow, reducing the need for human oversight or eliminating manual tasks altogether. For example, you can automate the employee onboarding process to make it more efficient and standardize the onboarding experience for new team members.

Business process outsourcing (BPO)

Business process outsourcing can contribute to process optimization when you hire a third-party company to perform tasks more efficiently than you can manage in-house. For example, it’s common to outsource HR functions like payroll or accounting if you don’t have enough resources to handle the entire process yourself.

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement (CI), or continuous process improvement, is a way of working toward business process optimization by making small but impactful changes to your core processes over time. For example, you can use the DMAIC — Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control — methodology to guide your process.

Other approaches to continuous improvement include the Kaizen methodology and the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) Cycle.

Key Benefits of Business Process Optimization

Business process optimization: employee helping his colleague

Business process optimization is all about efficiency and ensuring that you’re getting the best possible output for the amount of resources allocated to a process. Optimizing core business processes can save you time and money, and increase the profitability of your business. But the benefits go beyond the financial aspects of your business.

Here are three reasons to consider a business process optimization initiative as a way to boost your reputation and improve company culture.

Improve employee and customer satisfaction

By standardizing processes and eliminating inefficiencies, you can provide a smoother experience for customers and employees alike. Instead of dealing with duplicate forms and convoluted processes, use customer relationship management (CRM) software to automate data collection and respond to customer needs in real-time.

From standardized templates for common HR processes, to automatic notifications and calendar invites, even small changes to a business process can streamline operations and reduce the manual workload for your team.

Maintain a competitive advantage

Business process optimization can be part of your digital transformation as you adapt your business processes to take advantage of new tools and software. By taking stock of the current state of your business and using KPIs to inform your decisions, you can streamline decision-making and better communicate your value to stakeholders.

You can also perform a business process analysis to find the root cause of a problem and develop a new process that gives you a more competitive edge. 

Ensure regulatory compliance

Manual processes can result in omissions, redundancies, and other forms of human error. You can improve regulatory compliance by optimizing processes so there are fewer opportunities for mistakes, and by introducing safeguards like reporting and monitoring tools to identify discrepancies and flag cases of fraud or abuse. 

Whether you need to ensure OSHA compliance or are dealing with other requirements, Pulpstream can help you stay on track. Our custom rules engine allows you to create your own regulatory guardrails for each business process.

Examples of Business Process Optimization in Action

What does business process optimization look like in the real world? Although every case is different, here are just a few examples of process optimization in action.

Leave of absence management

The leave of absence process is an ideal candidate for business process optimization, because it requires communication between multiple stakeholders and compliance with complex regulatory requirements. 99 Cents Only Stores used Pulpstream to automate the leave of absence process, as a way of standardizing inconsistent procedures and complying with requirements at the local, state, and federal level.

Previously, each case involved more than nine hours of work, but the new process is faster and easier, and allows employees to self-service their own requests.

Incident management

Incident management involves everything from documenting workplace accidents to conducting audits and inspections to prevent them from happening in the first place. This can be especially difficult for teams with agents in the field, where dealing with physical paperwork is inefficient and inconvenient.

Santa Clara County Parks optimized their process by using Pulpstream to create a cloud-based incident management system. Now, agents can file reports from their devices while in the field, and court documents are generated automatically.

Claims management

Handling workers’ comp insurance claims can challenge even the most efficient HR teams. Randstad, the world’s largest staffing company, lacked a central database to track workers’ compensation claims and manage the return-to-work process.

By using Pulpstream to manage workers’ compensation claims in the cloud, they can now use intuitive dashboards and built-in claims analytics to track metrics and make data-driven decisions about the workers’ comp process.

Optimize Your Business Processes With Pulpstream

Entrepreneurs looking at a tablet

Business process optimization is a way of streamlining existing processes in order to reduce inefficiencies and make them more efficient. Although it has a lot in common with process automation and process improvement, these methodologies all offer slightly different ways to address the inefficiencies in a business process.

By using Pulpstream to optimize your business processes, you can eliminate manual tasks from the equation and save your team time and money. Our no-code platform allows you to streamline workflows without writing any code, while our cloud-based interface means your team can access information from anywhere at any time.

Request a demo today to learn more about how it works!