Business Process Management (BPM) is a broad discipline which, in essence, aims to improve corporate performance by discovering, modeling, analyzing, measuring, improving, optimizing and automating the business’s processes. Basically, we use a systematic approach to find out what works for our business, then endeavor to efficiently repeat this success.
Unfortunately, many popular current startup approaches abhor process, which is seen as overly bureaucratic and wasteful, and focus on quick and informal (though educated) decisions. The truth is, process takes time to research, design, implement and maintain, and above all, be repeatable — which, according to the book Repeatability by strategists from Bain & Co., is one of the most important traits of a business process. Entrepreneurs can learn from the BPM-related concepts here to begin to achieve that repeatability.
The design phase includes determining what steps you should take to define your startup’s business processes, such as how to provide a service more cost-efficiently but still effectively, or how to hire new employees or contractors. These steps might include identifying the problem, researching solutions and gathering resources in order to put the entire system together. This is an important, formal phase many startups skip, only to end up with a business process that doesn’t quite meet their needs.
This step, often labeled the Implementation or Execution phase, is the stage we all want to jump to because it entails actually completing the steps of the process. For example, if you’re selling shirts, you want to start printing and selling them to your customers. This step can be expensive, though, so do not start until you have completed the Design phase. Pay attention to the steps you are taking and document everything, because you (or someone else) will have to follow these steps later. Included in your documentation should be answers to question such as: What are the challenges you faced while executing? and How were they resolved?
After you’ve designed and implemented your process, you’ll want to ensure its repeatability by monitoring, optimizing and/or re-engineering the steps as needed. The goal is to continue improving by noting how the decisions we made while designing and creating have affected our service and product outputs using empirical observations, not just hunches.
This is a lot to take in, since BPM is usually associated with more established companies. But successful startups also need repeatable and profitable processes, and these ideas can help you begin to create your business plans and “recipes” while documenting and updating as you go along. Eventually you can use this experience to better your entire system by instituting structure and repeatability without expensive BPM software and formal processes. You can also improve your business process by incorporating ours — contact us to find out more.