Business processes can influence startup success

Business process improvement is about optimising business processes. For instance, reducing manual work through automation.  Most importantly, it’s about reviewing and analysing a process. Firstly, to identify all the steps involved. Secondly, to see what steps are necessary and eliminate any waste. Therefore, business process improvement is about improving business efficiency.  Good business processes support sustainability, scalability and success.

Certainly, startup success is affected by several factors. Firstly, it begins with the idea, along with thorough research. Not only that, but the timing as well as a host of external factors influence success. For example, social, cultural, economic and financial factors. Therefore, it’s important to have efficient business processes. Business process improvement looks at current processes to identify efficiencies, which reduce waste and mitigate risk.

What is success and what does a healthy organisation look like?

Success means different things to different people. Most importantly, there’s no right or wrong answer. Watch the below short videos and see what you think. For example, hear from Steve Wyatt, London Business Consultant, and what he thinks about success. In addition, Steve’s 5 tips for success and what a healthy organisation looks like.

What are business processes?

Business processes are the steps and actions (inputs) involved in producing a product or service (outputs). Even in our personal lives, a process is involved. It’s just that in daily life, we’ve learnt the steps and so it becomes automatic. It’s still a process or rather, a collection of activities, tasks or steps. A business process is just that; a series of steps that need to happen in sequence. Often, business process improvement looks at automation as a way of reducing manual inputs. In turn, this improves business efficiency, eliminates waste and mitigates risk. For example, human error.

Business Process Improvement Consultant

Steve, London Business Consultant, works with startups in and around London. Most importantly, Steve provides professional and expert business advice and coaching. This is based on+20 years of professional work experience. Firstly, he’s worked in Financial Services, Education and the Consulting sectors. Most importantly, he’s optimised business operations and business processes. In addition, delivered service excellence during global change initiatives.

With a Lean Six Sigma professional qualification and a Change Management Practitioner, Steve provides expert business process improvement advice. For instance, evaluating existing processes to identify improvements. Visit Maximum Solutions Consulting’s YouTube Channel for some short tips videos. For example, watch 2 business process improvement tips’ videos on Reducing Duplication & Waste Part 1 and Reducing Duplication & Waste Part 2.

Before you begin Business Process Improvement

It’s important to have robust business plan and 12-month cash flow forecast. Secondly, make sure you’ve carefully researched your business idea, including market and competitors. Once planning is complete, it’s important to create efficient processes. For instance, in order to build a scalable business, which runs like a well-oiled machine. It doesn’t stop there though, since effective business process improvement needs to be an ongoing process.

Most importantly, keep it simple! What is it you want to achieve and why? Certainly, the success of a process depends on how it came about. For example, the structure, organisation and people involved. If you’re an existing startup, who designed the original business process? Are they the people operating the process? If not, have you spoken with the people who the business process improvement will affect? What do they think about it? Are they following the current process and if not, why not?  Is time being wasted on a process step workaround? How can inefficiencies be fixed to reduce waste (e.g. resource time and cost)?

You need to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve and why. For instance, is it to harmonise existing processes or to reduce manual steps? For example, an invoice process could include some digital steps. However, still require manual sign off and printing. A business process improvement project would look at eliminating the manual inputs. For example, add digital approval and eliminate the need to print invoices. Instead, send only electronic invoices to customers.

Business process advice

An over-complicated process is unlikely to work. For example, staff are more likely to avoid steps and invent a faster workaround. In doing so, this could create risk and effect resource time and costs. As a startup business, have you thought about what is efficient for you and your team? What do they need and what is necessary?

With careful research, you can eliminate waste and increase productivity. This is what business process improvement is about.  It’s important to carefully map out your business processes to identify all the current steps. Most importantly, speak to everyone involved, including suppliers and clients, if applicable. It’s important to understand your process from the ‘doers’ perspective.  Secondly, ensure every step is considered before it’s changed or removed.

Business process improvement needs to save time, not cut corners. In addition, an effective process avoids lots of laborious steps. Certainly, with a long-winded and laborious process, you’re more likely to receive push back. Secondly, staff may to talk negatively about it with colleagues and this will contribute to additional issues. Most importantly, a business process should support staff and drive efficiency. If there are too many steps and/or there appears to be no logic, you’re already in trouble.

A good business process is based on logic. Further, it involves the least number of necessary steps. Think about what steps are ‘must have’, ‘should have’ or ‘could have’. That way, you’ll understand what is necessary and required to complete it. The could have’s need to be tested to make sure they are cost effective. For instance, in terms of resource time and costs. In addition, do they reduce or create duplication and waste? A good way to get started is to use the SIPOC tool.

What is SIPOC and why is it used?

SIPOC is a tool used in business process improvement and stands for:

  • Supplier
  • Input
  • Process
  • Output
  • Customer

It’s a simple way of recording who and what is involved in a process. For example, see this Invoice Process for a good working example of SIPOC. In addition, a more detailed and complex tool; Swim Lanes, maps out all the inputs (people, departments, suppliers, clients etc.) involved, including respective process step(s).

Contact Maximum Solutions Consulting Ltd for more information about business process improvement. In addition, visit the Business Advice or Business Coaching pages for details about services.