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5 signs you need better business processes

Edward O'Brien
August 30, 2013

Strong internal business processes give management the confidence projects will be done correctly and reliably, especially when no one is looking. However, organisations with robust internal processes are the high performing exceptions, not the rule.

Internal processes are those that are not necessarily customer facing, but will interact with the customer facing functions in some way to better support your business or goals. They need to be followed by all team members in order to have an impact.

Having robust internal business processes means:

  • Employees understand their roles and how their work fits into the larger picture.
  • You can more effectively implement change as you can identify the likely cost and impact before embarking on any implementation.
  • Your company or business is able to meet all agreed service level agreements (SLAs).

The primary reasons why companies and projects have problems with internal processes are to do with scale. Smaller organisations and projects can get by with less rigorous processes as they can rely on a hero culture delivered by individuals who ‘get the job done’.

As the scale of your company or project grows, the ability of individuals to manage all of the resulting complexities diminishes rapidly. As a result, the ability of management to effectively oversee all aspects of their business is extremely difficult.

Unless you invest the time and effort to grow the internal processes to support your larger business or project goals, your ability to grow and consistently service your customers will be highly constrained.

The top 5 signs you need better internal business processes (and the solutions) are:

  1. Non-repeatable processes or process duplication across your business/project. This can be solved by modelling your internal processes to achieve process standardisation and where possible, consolidation.
  2. Information and knowledge ‘silos’ across your business or project. This usually results in team members not knowing how their role fits into the larger whole. Instead store your information in a common repository and have a single source of truth that is accessible by all relevant parties in a user-friendly format.
  3. Poor internal controls, especially over manual processes. This can be overcome by modelling your processes to operational controls and business or project goals. This will enable reconciliation of business processes (outcomes or transactions) to key controls and defined goals. As a result you will achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency of operations and also better identify and implement internal controls.
  4. Unable to identify the impact of change, including the costs and benefits of process improvements. This can be solved by modelling the current state of the process and comparing it against the future state. Use the models you have built to identify roles, systems and controls that will be impacted by the proposed change. Use this information to plan the change, prioritise your efforts and target training to the relevant parties.
  5. Lack of accurate, usable and timely information. This can be overcome by using a common knowledge repository to deliver accurate information that is a true reflection of your current processes, controls and deliverables. For instance, if you change your process/controls etc then the reporting will change dynamically to reflect the updates. This will also enable better tracking and delivery of business goals, controls and project tasks.

Being able to resolve the challenges identified above will give you the time to focus on the important aspect of your role, whether it is growing your business or delivering on your project.

Edward O'Brien
Edward O’Brien is a consultant for Holocentric and has significant experience in leading process improvement and analysis programs. With more than 15 years experience in financial services, he leads projects to implement the Holocentric Business Management System and embed it into the clients’ operational environment.
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