Business process development is a term used to refer to analyzing a specific business activity and developing a standard process for executing that activity. The purpose is to ensure that frequently-occurring activities are handled correctly and in the most effective and efficient manner. Some tips to help manage business process development include beginning with clear goals, fully analyzing the current methods of an activity, and evaluating standard practices that are done a particular way simply because "that's the way they've always been done." It also is important to develop a clear communication system to keep employees informed and involved.
Benefits of business process development include increased customer satisfaction and increased employee job competency. More efficient business practices also can increase the ease of record-finding and consistency of employee performance. When improperly managed, however, business process development can lead to frustration among both employees and customers and will ultimately net the company no benefits.
When developing a new business process, it is critical to start with a goal. For example, a manager may decide to implement a business process for escalating customer service complaints because the company's customer satisfaction rating is low and he wants to improve it. He may need to create a business process for project documentation because no one can find information about a project when the project manager is ill or unavailable. He also may need to automate a traditionally time-consuming process to speed it up so that employees can manage a heavier workload.
A key step in business process development is to openly and actively analyze the existing methods of executing the activity under review. A lot of questions should be asked about why employees do the things they do. While this process will likely uncover practices that have come into use simply because they are "easy," a manager may also uncover important aspects of current methods that are not immediately apparent from analyzing statistical data.
Another important tip is to remember that the majority is not always right. The fact that 30 out of 40 representatives in a call center handle customer complaints in the same manner does not mean that their way is the best way. If the top performers, based on call times and customer satisfaction surveys, number among the "different" ten, it is a pretty good indicator that the standard process is wrong. Recommendations should be based on what the most successful employees do, rather than on what the majority does.
Practicality, clarity and communication are other critical factors of effective business process development. A process may look great on paper, and sound great in a meeting, but if it doesn't work in practice, it is useless. Even a practicable process will be ineffective if it is not communicated to those who will use it in a way that they can understand. Field testing each process and asking select employees to participate in the documentation can help eliminate these obstacles.
The best business process managers anticipate resistance. People, in general, simply do not like change. Presenting the new process in a way that highlights the benefits to both the company and the employees, while acknowledging that there will be some bumps along the way, is a proven method of reducing anxiety and creating buy-in.