Industrial processes have to be precise. Any error, from a disrupted link in a supply chain to a faulty step in the manufacturing process, could significantly drop the quality of your delivered goods or service.
With a highly competitive environment, mistakes are intolerable.
Mistakes and errors are rife when your industrial business does not have a set of documented steps for every business operation. This is where business process management comes in.
In this blog, we will explore what business process management is, and how it can be used to reduce errors in all of your business procedures. This includes procedures such as using Thomasnet.com to source suppliers, to the factory floor operations, right through to the end of your supply chain with product/service delivery and marketing.
You will then find out how you can implement business process management into your business today, firstly by using a simple pen and paper approach before considering online software for more complicated processes.
What Is Business Process Management?
Business Process Management can be defined as:
“A discipline in operations management in which people use various methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, optimize and automate business processes.” John Jeston and Johan Nelis, Business Process Management
To explain this definition for business process management in more detail, we are going to take a look at the Aerospace industry. Building an airplane is no small feat. To manufacture such complex machinery requires a carefully planned collection of interrelated tasks, linked together to find their end in the delivery of a flying vehicle.
Related Resource: Challenges and Opportunities in the Aerospace Industry
It is these linked tasks, grouped, that make up a process.
Business process management essentially takes control of these processes, which can either be structured and repeatable or unstructured and variable. The sequence of steps within a process can vary from instance to instance, meaning that there are gateways, conditions, and business rules.
Processes don’t have to be complicated. Even a simple procedure such as building a paper airplane requires a set of tasks to be performed in a specified order, and it is useful to document these tasks as a process (see the image below from Aviation Explorer).
Business processes are in a constant state of flux, meaning that business process management is a continuous practice, constantly tweaking and changing operations for improvement.
Within business process management, processes are seen as the most important assets to an organization, and rightly so. Companies that implement processes have a 280% higher success rate on their projects (95%), versus those that don't (25%).
By understanding, managing, and developing these processes as assets, companies can deliver value-added products and services to clients or customers.
The Benefits Of Standardized Processes
The business process management market is expected to increase to $16 million by 2023, with a 14% Compound Annual Growth Rate between 2017 and 2023. In other words, the practice is already popular, and is only set to become more commonplace.
Why is everyone taking more and more notice of business process management? Well, keep reading to find out.
Business Process Management Reduces Costs
Mapping your processes in detail provides insight into the duration, resources needed, frequency and costs of each step and the process as a whole. With this level of detail for each one of your business operations, redundancies can be eliminated, quality control issues can be identified and excessive materials and labor costs can be highlighted.
Business Process Management Benefit To Recognize And Respond To Customer Demands
Business operations and processes have to be responsive to the customer and their changing demands. Customer changes in the industrial industry include increased delivery expectations, visibility of workflows and product customization.
Using a method for managing your processes can allow you to modify a series of tasks so that they are customer-centered.
Business Process Management Improves And Adapts Business Models
Working from an outdated business model will not get you far. With business process management, you obtain a greater understanding of your business processes so that they can be updated making the right changes at the right time. With full transparency of each task within a process, you can plan for change, implement the change, measure the response to a change and then evaluate this response and learn from it.
Our business world is constantly evolving and transforming. Changing factors such as the rise of technology entering the digital age, or changing consumer needs act as strains on business processes. You need to be able to adapt your business processes accordingly to stay on top of the competition.
Business Process Management Increases Productivity
With business process management, inefficiencies can be identified and removed. Take the company Adidas for example. Adidas improved the lag time between order placement and system order visibility through business process management, meaning orders were fulfilled faster. Another example is Renegard, a company providing a high-performance protective coating for a range of vehicles. With the implementation of a business process management system, the company reported increases in productivity.
Business Process Management Gives You A Competitive Advantage
Business process management constantly analyses and improves processes. This improvement means removing waste, and other steps that are slow and cumbersome. With the removal of wasted time, you can streamline your business processes and focus on what matters, such as innovation.
Business Process Management Improves Customer Retention
By improving your metrics, such as innovation and productivity, has cascading knock-on effects, meaning that your customers are more likely to be satisfied with your product/service.
You can also build on this further by providing customer support, success and service provision into the rest of your company activities via an integrated business process management approach. For example, you can set up and use simple customer support processes.
Business Process Management Sets Process Standardization
Business process management is a form of quality control through the standardization of business processes. With standardization, processes can be improved upon with greater ease for the future, productivity is increased and operations can be scheduled in accordance.
Business Process Management Encourages Cross-Department Collaboration
The transparency to processes given through business process management means that operations across departments can be compared and understood. Collaboration across departments can identify processes that are shared, determine redundancies, and learn where shared information and expertise may be beneficial.
Business Process Management Improves Safety, Security, And Compliance
A lack of transparency can result in issues with safety, security, and compliance. Business process management sheds light on these issues so that stakeholders are made aware. Processes can be easily adapted to stay up to date with compliance, safety and security standards, both internal and external.
How To Build Processes
We can see that business process management brings many benefits to a business, the next question is how do you implement business process management into your business today?
The implementation of business process management begins with process documentation. That is, you take your current processes, document these processes including the team members involved, and then run and test each process.
For simplification, we can simplify the process implementation process into three core parts:
- Pre-implementation (plan)
- Implementation (execute)
- Re-implementation (review)
To further clarify, I will work through an example process and how it has been implemented.
Sample Processes For Industrial Companies
Ubiquitous across the world, latex gloves are an interesting example of industrial processes. Current operations work in perfect synergy between ancient vs ultra-modern technology. Getting this balance right between the two methods would be part of the pre-implementation stage used to design the process for latex glove manufacture.
Firstly the stages for latex glove production would be planned out before they are implemented as per the video below.
This latex glove example is great to show how processes are documented. Like the conveyor belt that brings the gloves for manufacturing, a documented process ensures that each step is carried out in the correct order, at the right time, and that no steps are missed. In this case, that correct task order would be:
- Hands are obtained that are made of ceramic or aluminum, serving as molds
- The residue is removed from the last rubber glove production via washing in soapy water
- Residue is removed from last rubber glove production via washing in bleach
- Leaving the bleach to mold hands move through brushes for further cleaning
- Hand molds are then washed in a tub of hot water
- Hands are then spun on a carrier to drip dry
- Whilst the hands are still slightly damp, the hand molds are dipped into a chemical path
- The hand molds are then placed into warm liquid rubber enhanced for extra strength
- The liquid rubber reacts to chemicals on the hands (from the chemical bath) and becomes gel-like
- Coated with the rubber gel, the hands spin to shake off any residue and then move through a hot oven for drying
- The rubber then undergoes a chemical process called volatilization making the rubber strong and elastic
- Gloves are then washed and dried
- Gloves spin through brushes which roll up the cuffs
- Gloves are then peeled off the mold hands by workers
Documenting this process before implementation would reduce errors and consequently improve time availability and save money during operation. Once the stages have been documented pre-implementation, implementation of the process would highlight inefficiencies, bottleneck steps and areas for improvement. Improvements can be made by referring back to the recorded process steps, reviewing these steps and assessing for renovation.
There is a lot of information and out there you can consult to understand how you can build your business processes.
How To Manage Your Processes
Once you have built your processes, the next stage would be to manage them. Simple business process management systems can as straightforward as using a pen and paper, writing down each step of the process for you to then follow.
This can be done as a checklist, documenting each task on paper. You can then examine each task to determine how you can improve a given process.
The problem with this simple pen and paper approach comes when processes begin to become more and more complex. You may need features such as conditional logic, or a way to make a given task prioritized, or a method to ensure the correct employee is assigned to a specific task.
Luckily there are tools out there to help you add this level of complexity for the management of your processes. Online BPM tools are a great way for you to manage complex business processes.
- Assign tasks between team members as required
- Introduce conditional logic to your processes
- Add stop tasks to ensure task order and priority tasks are completed
- Set task due dates to make sure tasks are completed on time
These features work to add complexity to processes but do so in a user-friendly manner. With these checklists, human error can be minimized, accountability is increased, and the tools and information needed to complete all tasks for a given process are recorded and provided to the user.
Implement Business Process Management In Your Business Today
In this article, we have discussed what business process management is, and how you can begin to document and build out your business processes. For more complex processes, you can use business process management software, such as Process Street, to help you sort through it all.
Business Process Management brings many benefits to business, so get ahead of your game and start using business process management in your business today.
Did you find this useful?