Irish Start-Ups - Do your Process Thinking This Very Second!

By Torque Management, Friday, 20th June 2014 | 0 comments
Filed under: Business Development, BPM, Process Thinking, Business Process Management.

A culture in organisations where Business Process Management (BPM) was normal would be great. A BPM approach in all organisations would be even better. Imagine a world where each member of staff understands their role as part of the whole, who's roles relate to theirs, how everyones' functions relate to the customer and where no one at any level was required to carry out inefficient steps just because that's how the person who did it before them did it? A place where people don't get things done by working until 2am, they get things done by having a staff that are innovative and efficient, because the management style has developed and streamlined that. That is what BPM is.

There are plenty of companies in the world who started out with little or no awareness of what it means to be 'process-aware.' It is possible that many small companies and start-ups still don't know about it at all. With a culture in Ireland that has seen many new businesses spring up in recent years, and an 'entrepreneurial culture', we thought we'd take a basic look at what 'Business Process Management' means to you; the benefits it can build in to an early stage start-up and why you should keep it in mind, if nothing else. Once you're aware of it, you'll find it hard to deny it's the right approach, because it's optimal and start-ups rarely have the time or the money to not function optimally.

BPM stands for 'Business Process Management' and refers to a systematic, holistic approach to management that aligns an organisation's business processes to the needs of the client or customer. Processes, as referred to in BPM, exist at all levels of an organisation. In management, these may include corporate governance and strategic management. For the operational areas of a business these could be purchasing or manufacturing. Supporting processes will include functions such as accounting and recruitment. BPM also incorporates ways to continuously improve efficiency, quality, compliance, innovation and integration with technology. A business of any type, or size can benefit from being 'process-aware' and creating a leaner, more cost-effective, streamlined business.

The beauty of BPM is that it's not a 'once off' solution, your organisation doesn't change and become stagnant, but continually improves through the methods, training and new understandings. One challenge an already established business can face is that there are different levels of 'process-maturity' and depending on the level your company or your department are at, the harder – or easier, it will be to improve on this. It is common for customer facing departments to be at a higher level of process maturity, as they're literally face to face with the customer each day, so they have no choice but to be or else be left to deal with some very unhappy, dissatisfied people. While the back office may be less mature when it comes to process, as they aren't face to face with the customer, so it's easier for them to 'get away' with focussing on the customer less.

When a large organisation realises the benefits that can come from minimising waste and increasing efficiency through good business process management, it can be an incredibly big job to transform the culture and the processes and the management, especially if their process maturity level is low, or is low in many areas of the company. While it's always going to be a transformation that is so beneficial it's worth it, the bigger the organisation, and the lower the maturity of the existing processes, the harder it's going to be.

Which brings me to why you should become process-aware as soon as you start, or even start to think about starting your own business.

There are different facets of business process management, and you may have already heard of the 'Lean' by way of the 'Lean Start Up' movement that followed on from the book of the same name by Eric Reis. Lean aims to maximise customer value and minimise waste. Others practices that frequently come into BPM include Six Sigma, which seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by removing the causes of defects and minimising variability in manufacturing and business processes and ISO Standards, which ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. Lean will probably be most applicable to a start-up.

Ries' lean startup philosophy seeks to eliminate wasteful practices and increase value producing practices during the product development phase, increasing the chances of success. Ries believes that customer feedback during product development is integral to the lean start-up process, and it ensures that the producer does not invest time designing features or services that consumers do not want.

Instigating this way of working, it can also begin to filter back from the product, and start to affect how you look at how each of the roles within the organisation that contribute to, assist or aid the roles more directly involved with the product and the customer. Rather than being caught up in what you 'think' certain roles must be doing, you can see the goals, and each member of the company, however small, can begin to align themselves with these goals and this approach.

With a business process management approach, you can check in week to week or month to month to see if this is how people are working. As such, you can be setting up the culture of your organisation to be one with a good understanding of process and of what 'waste' means, increase your chances of success and know that as you grow, management processes can grow with you. The larger a company becomes the more likely it is you'll need to put metrics and people in place to keep this attitude a priority, but with an atmosphere where considering the customer and considering the process is normal, day to day understanding, you'll be setting yourself and your staff up for a waste-free, efficient approach to success, growth and competitiveness.

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