Definition of Business Process Design

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Business process design safeguards the consistent quality of every interaction between employees and managers with customers and community members, including suppliers and government entities. Processes – also known as protocols, policies or procedures – help foster efficient product and service development, marketing and delivery.

FAQs and the Process Design Definition

A working business process design definition consists of the creation of a set of standard responses to frequent, predictable situations and questions regarding everything from human resource management to taking orders and dispatching shipments. These set responses even extend to celebrating important milestones in company history.

Influencing Employee Decisions and Actions

When a company has no business process steps in place, employees may rely on routine actions and random responses based on their level of experience in the industry. Inevitably, inconsistency results when employees wing their way through every encounter. Since random responses and routine actions require little to no thought, what separates them from processes? The answer to that question: intentions do.

Rather than doing what serves the best interest of the customer, supplier, community member or government official involved, knee-jerk reactions usually favor the convenience of the employee or manager making the decision or handling the transaction. In order to provide a consistent level of customer service, legacy industries conduct constant quality assurance checks and write business process steps in order to map the path to improved customer relations, thereby cementing the company's reputation for excellence.

Types of Business Process Design

Business process design and software development methods entwine so thoroughly that each borrows or steals concepts from the other. Therefore, a glimpse at software development history provides numerous models of process design examples. For instance, some business process steps derive from a philosophy called the Agile Manifesto, in which workgroups welcome change, collaborate as relative equals and communicate using agreed-upon terminology.

Additional methods include Scrum, which is not an acronym but instead refers to moving a rugby ball down the field to the goal line. Scrum applies techniques such as "planning poker" to figure out what steps a given project must undergo and how much time each step might require in order to produce value to the client, customer or the business owner. In a typical Scrum planning session, participants use stories and note cards to refine ideas and generate solutions or additional questions.

Features of an Efficient Process Design Example

Total Quality Management, ISO 9001, Six Sigma and other process planning strategies share several features of an efficient process design example, including:

  • Placing priority on serving the wants and needs of the customer;
  • Standardizing product development, marketing and service delivery;
  • Continuous improvement in the efficiency of internal and external processes;
  • Predictable levels of staffing and funding;
  • Accurate budgets for time, personnel and resources; and
  • Transparent communication of company mission and values to all stakeholders.

Brainstorm the Objectives of Business Process Management

Communication must occur face to face, no matter which brainstorming methods you use to generate the objectives of your company's business process management strategy. No one enjoys playing phone tag or being spammed with variations of "I agree," or "same here," in message threads. In addition, text messages, emails or traditional telephone calls do not provide voice inflections or body language. All team members, therefore, need to meet in person or via a live video conference.

At a minimum, provide a whiteboard at the front of the room and give each team member a set of color-coded index cards and suitable writing instruments. The use of different colors for questions, statements and themes provides an instant visual cue that more discussion might need to occur before codifying ideas into procedures.

Keys to Writing Effective Business Process Steps

Each step in a business process needs to make sense to the user. Write the steps in plain language using no more than an eighth-grade reading level. This increases attention and retention from the eight seconds that most people will look at the text on a website to around 15 minutes for a topic that fits their current information needs.

Provide definitions for all industry terms and acronyms to ensure that everyone who must adhere to the process shares a common vocabulary. These shared definitions reduce the misunderstandings caused by using legalese or industry jargon. Finally, using section and paragraph numbers makes it easier to cite laws, regulations or codes in your process manual.

Creating an Original Business Process Map

Whether you call your business process map a flow chart or infographic, idea web or graphic organizer, creating a visual idea chart, video or pocket pamphlet makes your message accessible to everyone. Your audience does not have to be deaf or hard-of-hearing to benefit from the use of alternative text, captions or sign language interpreters. In fact, the more you involve as many senses as possible when you present information, the better your customers, employees and suppliers will grasp the key concepts you wish to convey.

Business Process Design Requirements

Companies must take the customer's or user's point of view from the beginning of the design process all the way to its implementation. This corresponds to the empathy stage of design thinking. The remaining phases include problem identification, brainstorming, prototype creation, experimentation and full rollout. The ability to see through a customer's eyes allows a business to:

  • Identify choke points in information-sharing;
  • Research and develop new products and services; and
  • Reduce the gap between the development and enforcement of new policies and procedures.

Repetition plays a key role in business process management. In fact, presenting the same information in at least seven formats helps cement your message in the minds of current and future customers. In other words, repeating yourself will not offend your customers as long as your message lightens their mood or provides a much-needed break from their daily routine.

Make It Break

Destruction tests provide vital feedback on the quality of processes a business implements. Whether a software company crashes a server during a stress test or a call center team fails to secure enough appointments to keep the sales team busy for the next three days, every process needs a thorough shakedown. Isolate a team from the outside world and throw every monkey wrench into the system that has ever occurred in real life.

Keep sabotaging each process until it fails, and then examine where and why the system broke down. Use that information to revise the process and test it again. Continue until every step in the process stands on its own merits. Once you work through every possible scenario for failure, rest assured that the business process design that results will keep your company moving toward employer-of-choice status.

Final Thoughts Regarding Business Process Management

Process-based management can bog down when time spent on the creation process outstrips the time spent on the testing and implementation phase. Every brainstorming session should result in one new solution for an as-yet-unknown problem and two solutions for issues that have already proven detrimental to the smooth operation of the business.

Hold sessions daily, weekly and monthly to keep projects on schedule while permitting enough flexibility to respond to changes in business needs. If necessary, use video conferencing when unable to coordinate schedules that enable face to face meetings to take place.