Businesses run on workflows. Workflows are a series of repeated steps performed by individual employees or teams that allow organizations to accomplish their objectives. Yet, when a workflow doesn’t function as efficiently as possible, it can waste a business untold time and resources and perhaps even prevent a group from reaching their goals.
Business leaders need to think critically about the structure of their workflows, which involves knowing more about the design of processes in and around those workflows. For business leaders looking to organize their processes for efficiency and success, it is possible to earn a business process management certificate online. One of the first lessons process design leaders are apt to learn are the three types of processes, which are as follows:
Operational processes are best described as the processes that answer the question: How does this organization generate income? Operational tasks and procedures utilize inputs like labor, raw equipment and money to produce outputs like products, services and customer satisfaction. Some examples of operational processes at a typical business include:
- Developing the final product
- Marketing a product
- Providing customer service following the sale of a product
Operational processes are sometimes called primary or core business processes because they are essential activities required for the functioning of a business. Business leaders should take time to identify their operational processes by evaluating the inputs and outputs of the organization. A general rule of thumb for process design is that if a process doesn’t fit into the supporting or management process design categories, it is likely an operational process.
Once operational processes are well-defined, business leaders should strive to analyze those processes to find possible areas of improvement to ensure efficient workflows. Talking to employees responsible for operational tasks and collecting data on existing workflows should help with this endeavor. Usually, the goal for improving operational process design is to add value to every step of the workflow to increase the overall value of the final product.
Supporting processes, also called secondary processes, create value for workforce as opposed to the customer. Though they are not directly involved in income generation, supporting processes make it possible for staff to carry out operational processes. Though not foundational to the business, these processes are nonetheless strategically important and necessary, especially as an organization grows. Some business departments that primarily provide supporting processes include:
- IT. An organization’s employees need devices, a network and other digital tools for internal and external communication and collaboration.
- HR. The administrative functions provided by HR serve the workforce in myriad ways, keeping employees happy, healthy and productive.
- Finance. The handling of business money is incredibly important, but because it doesn’t directly result in the creation of a product or service, it is a supporting process.
Because supporting processes are not generating profits, it is imperative that business leaders strive to make support workflows as efficient as possible. Again, speaking with employees responsible for operational and supporting tasks can shed light on inefficiencies and help organizations reduce waste.
The last category of processes within a business belongs to management teams, who are responsible for planning, monitoring and generally overseeing the coordination of operational and supporting processes. Some specific examples of managerial processes include:
- Creating a compliant and safe workplace
- Offering staff training
- Monitoring progress toward goals
Safety and effectiveness are the ultimate objectives of management processes. Like supporting processes, management processes do not directly generate income, but management processes can optimize income opportunities — if management is capable of designing optimal operational workflows.
Business leaders need to be capable of classifying various business processes within their process architecture. Understanding both the broad categories of processes and the specific, detailed processes ongoing within an organization gives a business leader more control over workflows. Yet, even as leaders work to make processes and workflows as efficient as possible, they must remember to value the individuals responsible for carrying out business tasks. Then, leaders and their workforce can generate dynamic and effective processes that contribute to overall business success.