Why you need to know your business processes

How do you get from a mound of flour to a delicious mouth-watering pizza?

You’ve got to know the process, also called a recipe in this case. Business Process purists, please pardon the comparison, it’s just that I love cooking and I want pizza now…:)

The recipe for your business starts from different ingredients of course, but it’s how you combine them that really makes the difference. Too much water and the dough is too soft, too little yeast and it doesn’t rise enough, no salt or too much sugar and it tastes sweet. If you don’t know how to make it, you will not get the results you want.

Knowing how to do something is the first step in any endeavour, sure you can learn how to do it better along the way and once you get the process you can also apply your own twist to it and make it unique, but you have to start somewhere.

A business is very much like a recipe, as I said earlier, and knowing how it runs and should run will make the difference between a great pizza and all kinds of wrong pizza…

In all the projects I’ve been part of over the last 15+ years, the analysis of the processes AS-IS and TO-BE was central; by completing it I was understanding how the company was working and what changes (organizational, in the way of working, in the processes, in the systems, etc.) would be necessary to move on to the best pizza they could be – leaner, hotter, more flavourful – you name it.

The BPR (Business Process Re-engineering) analysis would invariably start from understanding what functions were present in the company and what their scope was (Sales, Marketing, Procurement, Engineering, Manufacturing, Planning, Transportation, Service and Maintenance, Quality Assurance, etc.).
Some companies are much simpler than others in their inner workings; some others are much more complex and intertwined, and this is a result of their culture and the market(s), the country(ies), the legal and fiscal system(s) they are active in.

In all cases they have processes – visible or invisible ones – that can and must be mapped. So many times I’ve seen processes going offline, into an Excel file for instance, when they should have been in a system (an ERP, a CRM, a Data Warehouse) and this is detrimental to the end results and to the clarity and transparency within the organization.

ERP systems are especially good at managing processes: the acronym means Enterprise Resource Planning, but what can you plan if you don’t know what you’re doing?

Every company, big or small, consolidated or start-up, modern or traditional would do a lot of good to themselves and their customers if everyone involved had a clear idea of how things areand should be working to achieve the results they want.

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