Processes are the framework on which successful businesses are built.
But a surprising number of businesses are operating on outdated, inefficient, and undocumented processes.
The result is thousands of hours wasted, endless headaches, and uncountable dollars lost.
In this article, you’re going to learn:
- The foundational process mistakes that hold businesses back.
- How often you should analyze your business processes.
- The most important questions to ask for process analysis as your business grows.
Process by Design
You only benefit from processes when they're designed and executed well.
Unfortunately, most operations processes evolve organically rather than by intentional design.
You know how it goes.
A problem is named.
Something needs to get done, and you start doing it.
It works well enough, so you keep doing it that way.
Write it down and voila! A process is born.
But after spending more than a million hours helping Prialto members amplify their productivity, we’ve learned that one thing for sure:
Just because a process is established doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be improved.
Many processes are set up without acknowledging how each process fits into the company’s big-picture goals.
And in most businesses, processes aren’t analyzed until major problems become obvious.
This is a highly inefficient way to run your business.
The situation enters the danger zone as a business grows and needs change.
When processes aren’t continually analyzed and updated to meet changing needs, they become as effective as a modern car drawn by a live horse.
Your business might still move forward, but not nearly as well as you’d like.
It’s better to pinpoint the glitches in the system ahead of time.
And this is why regular process analysis is so important.
Related: How to Create Processes that Improve Your Bottom Line
Schedule time for process analysis
You already know that it’s important to analyze your processes, so why aren’t you doing it?
Process analysis often gets put on the back burner because it isn’t as pressing as other tasks.
This is a mistake you don’t want to make.
Regular process analysis is itself a vital process!
Nothing will improve unless you dedicate time to it.
And when it comes to processes, your company growth will stall if you don’t take the time necessary to evaluate what’s working, and what isn’t.
So, the first concrete step you need to take is to schedule time on your calendar to regularly and systematically analyze each of your company’s processes.
“If you talk about it, it's a dream, if you envision it, it's possible, but if you schedule it, it's real.”
– Tony Robbins.
Related: 13 Ways to Master Your Executive Calendar Management
The Process Analysis Process
How often should you analyze processes?
There is no fixed rule for how often processes should be analyzed.
Still, it’s generally considered good practice to analyze your business operations every 6 to 12 months, as well as anytime your company goes through an obvious transition.
Once you have process analysis scheduled, make the most of your time with a clear analysis plan.
Here are the questions you want to ask as you analyze your business’ processes:
When you ask the right questions, you have the context you need to make the best decisions.
1. What external factors are currently affecting your business?
The European Business Review recommends that you begin your analysis process by taking stock of influential factors outside of your business.
An obvious example is the impact the pandemic had on day-to-day operations.
But even in less extreme circumstances, the world is constantly changing, and those changes can change the needs and goals of your business.
Some influential factors you want to look at include:
- Political leadership
- Trade policies
- Economic changes
- Cultural shifts
- Social expectations (These can impact your company’s reputation, such as your company’s commitment to sustainability and social accountability.)
2. Is your business plan still on point?
Your business plan is the blueprint for your company from which all processes should be built.
Before you can analyze any individual process, it’s essential that you look at your business plan first and make changes as needed.
This level of detail may feel tedious, but it will make your analysis process much smoother and more cohesive.
As you look at your business plan, here are some factors to consider:
- What are your company’s biggest strengths and weaknesses right now?
- Have your goals changed?
- Do goals need to be adjusted based on the external influences you’ve identified?
- What, if any, changes need to be made to reach current goals?
3. Next, analyze each individual process
If your company is large enough to have multiple departments, you can delegate the next steps of the analysis process to the relevant managers.
Each department should take time to clarify their own goals, make sure those goals are aligned with the big-picture company goals, and check that all processes serve to meet those goals.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Is this process still relevant and necessary?
- What aspects of this process feel frustrating or too time consuming?
- How can this process be simplified?
- Are the appropriate people responsible for this?
- Are workflows meeting their targets?
- Is this process documented well enough for others to use it?
Make process analysis part of your company culture
According to Gallup, employees thrive when they are engaged.
And engagement increases when they feel a sense of ownership over their work.
To this end, everyone in the company should be encouraged to analyze their own processes and daily workflows, and to speak up and make suggestions for improvement if they have anything to share.
Strong businesses are organic, changing entities.
Just as a skyscraper must be flexible enough to bend in the wind, your business, too, has to be flexible enough to accommodate changes or cracks will form.
Here at Prialto, we know it can take some time to establish, learn, and document our new members’ processes.
But we also know that the time we put into our members’ processes pays off exponentially as we keep working together and refining our work.
And the same is true for your business.
It might be time-consuming (or even annoying!) to spend time analyzing your processes.
But the time you put in will always pay off, saving you more time and money overall.
Want to make your work even more efficient?
You can save hours of busywork everyday by hiring a virtual assistant.
Learn more about Prialto’s managed virtual assistant service here.