By Cathy Dew
Business Process Audits help you focus and grow your business smartly. A complete, documented picture of your “as is” process is the first step in improvement. Next the “to be” process is designed – steps are tweaked, sections are automated, and new methods are created to reduce work, eliminate duplication and ultimately protect your profit margin and increase ROI.
Why you need a business audit
In today’s competitive environment, companies must continuously improve the way they do business to remain relevant and competitive. If you don’t, you risk higher costs, lower revenues, less engaged employees, and less satisfied customers.
Once Sales has done its job, you must deliver on the sale. Your team must engage and delight your customer. And you need to do it effectively, efficiently and scalable as your business grows.
Before you can address any specific process or business system, you need a holistic view of your company. You need to be able to answer these questions to ensure that you understand your company. Then you can scope and prioritize projects strategically.
It Starts with Understanding Your “As Is” Process
To identify opportunities for improvement, start with understanding what you have. Here is a good list of questions to ask to determine if you need a business process audit:
- What is your current product / service delivery life cycle?
- Is your current process documented?
- Does everyone in the organization understand it, at least at a high level?
- Do you understand how long each phase takes?
- What is working well and what isn't?
- Are there shadow systems, including manual ones, that may be impacting efficiency and accuracy?
If software is part of the process, here are additional questions to consider.
- How many people know how to use it?
- Is your implementation documented?
- If software is involved, is it supporting your process, or is it the other way around?
Answering this questions as part of an honest evaluation of your current processes will tell you if a Business Process Audit is needed.
How to Develop an Audit
Once you decide that you need an evaluation, here are the high-level steps for conducting a Business Process Audit.
Create an inventory
Create an inventory of the major steps or phases in your life-cycle. This is typically accomplished by getting four to six key people in your company that have a good understanding of the overall organization. Together we will map out your life-cycle, typically on a whiteboard.
Document problems and opportunities
For each phase or step in the life cycle, we will identify and document enough detail to help you understand problems and opportunities.
- Who is involved – internally and externally (customers, sub-contractors, vendors, etc.)?
- What systems are involved?
- What are the high-level objectives or functions?
- What is the result or accomplishment?
- Where does the result go next?
- How long does this step typically take?
- What systems are involved in this step and what function is provided?
Summarize and present findings
Present findings with key stakeholders. Refine as needed and produce a complete report of the results.
Depending on the complexity of your processes, the Business Process Audit may be a solid representation of your “as is” process. If that is the case, the next step is to identify opportunities for improvement. This is often referred to as the “to be” process. The proposed process will likely have several opportunities for refining, streamlining and improving the quality of your process. Now you can:
- make a list
- prioritize the list
- assess the effort to implement
- start making improvements
This sounds easy and of course it’s more involved that this simple list of steps. Over the next several weeks we will be digging into more aspects of a good Business Process Audit and how this information can guide your organization to make impactful improvements.
An Outside Resource Has a Unique Perspective
Conducting a Business Process Audit can be an involved task. Doing it well requires the analyst to remain calm and impartial, unbiased and focused. One of the advantages of an external resource is a built-in level of objectivity and a fresh point of view. 2Plus2 has conducted a range of audits across healthcare, public agencies, higher education, for-profit product companies that sell products and services. We have a highly-tuned methodology and have refined our communication skills across a variety of personalities and company cultures.
Email Cathy@2plus2.com or go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.