Maybe your procedure manual is collecting dust, or is only half-written. Maybe you’re starting to see real breakdowns in production and service when teams don’t follow existing processes. Whatever the pain point, the search for a business process management tool can be overwhelming. Some companies never get past the gate and remain mired in process paralysis.
The good news is you don’t have to remain stuck in first gear.
Here are a few simple things to consider when searching for the right business process management solution for your business.
Lay a foundation
Firstly, before you start engaging with software vendors, establish some goals.
Decide what your company wants to achieve with the tool. Determine why you want better processes, and what’s driving the strategy.
Then, be clear about your starting point.
Every company has processe – even if they’re not captured, standardized, or approved. Recognizing the process maturity of your company establishes a baseline for the project. Consider the resources you already have available to drive the initiative and support your efforts for improvement.
Finally, have one eye on the prize! Understanding your future development requirements will ensure you select a platform that can grow with you and continue to support your business as it evolves. If your tools can’t scaffold your strategic direction, then they’re not the right tools.
Six benchmarks for your process management platform
Process management software isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. When it comes to selecting the right tool for your business, you need to consider these six criteria:
Your users should be at the forefront of your buying decision. By investing in software for anyone other than the teams who will use it, is a recipe for bloated, redundant systems. There is a big difference between an IT specialist and a frontline team when it comes to using software, so think about the kinds of functionality you want and how it will be accessed.
The interface needs to be simple enough for non-technical users to engage with, and primary functions should be easy to find and use. Key activities should save time and effort, not increase frustration, so things like effective search tools and self-generating process maps are important inclusions.
A good business process management solution isn’t a one-off exercise. Processes evolve, so any tool needs to be able to handle change management. Notifying users through personalized dashboards and email alerts ensures everyone has visibility over their processes and instills confidence in management that the right people have the right information, at the right time.
Process improvement has a wealth of science behind it, and any tool you employ needs to support the most common process excellence approaches. It should provide analysts with the kind of metrics that lean or Six Sigma and Kaizen management methodologies need, utilizing tools and technologies that support them. That includes identifying opportunities to reduce waste, helping pinpoint non-value-add activities, and highlighting costs that could be reduced or eliminated.
To do this effectively, the tool needs to be in the hands of everyone in the organization. The people most familiar with your processes are those on the front line, using them day-in and day-out, and they’re the best qualified to weigh in on what isn’t working in the status quo. That kind of input is essential for planning and critical for identifying where automation and innovation can improve everyone’s work.
Having clear and effective oversight is critical to the success of a process improvement initiative. The right tool provides version control and audit records that track what changes are made, and by whom.
The best platforms will allow you to translate success measures into appraisals and reviews, tying key performance indicators into the roles and responsibilities that affect them, ensuring you maintain momentum and don’t lose the ground you’ve made.
4. Content management
Process collaboration makes a huge difference to the engagement with and effectiveness of a process management platform. Think about how the tool you choose will enable and encourage active use by teams, facilitating the exchange of ideas, and embracing constructive feedback.
Tracking suggestions and improvements ensure they can be actioned effectively and provides a pathway for measuring success as processes develop.
This, of course, necessitates that teams can access the processes they need, when, and where they need them. A process tool must create a central source of truth, which is easy to find and follow. Integrating that into the systems and portals that teams already use daily ensures that process help is readily available, so consider how intranets, ERP, or CRM systems and existing cloud applications can support and provide access to process information.
With the rapid pace of software development, any tool you choose needs to be both scalable and supported. This is frequently the downfall of traditional documenting and mapping approaches like Visio or Word documents.
As the business expands, tools need to support wider audiences with more diverse technological abilities and process needs. When choosing a platform, think about how your rollout plan is resourced, from implementation through to maintenance, and how you’ll embed it in the organization.
Although the price tag is often one of the first considerations, it isn’t always a useful one. Return on investment is the better measure, and it should be easy to quantify. Regardless of the investment, small wins should be both apparent and tangible within a short period of time.
Look for a vendor who treats your investment like their own, and welcomes input from you, the real experts on your processes. Flexibility is a great sign that the vendor is on the process improvement journey with you and will have your needs in mind as they continue to develop their tools.
Secure your success with business process management solution
The right business process management platform will lift your procedures from dead documents to engaging opportunities for increased productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. You’ll only get there, though, if you employ a platform that combines everyday usability, defined analysis, effective governance, orderly content management, accessible technology, and a great return on investment.
These factors define the difference between an ongoing struggle to make processes work, and a solution that promotes a culture of process excellence.