If a business isn’t constantly engaged in seeking out a better way to perform operations, chances are good it’s going to lose whatever competitive edge it may have had. Reducing inefficiency isn’t one of those things that should be reserved for the end of the day, if and when there’s time available.
Those interested in continually improving engage in structured BPM, or business process management. This is simply the optimization of workflow to support enterprise goals. While it may sound like one more thing that an entrepreneur should add to their list, it’s not just a function to be performed.
It’s best thought of as an approach to everything in business, rather than an exercise to be started and finished. BPM works so well with startups and entrepreneurs because it is born of a busy schedule and aims to better use the precious time available.
The Principles of BPM
While there are different approaches to business process management, depending on the industry and type of business, there are still some core values that a smooth BPM process will focus on. Here are a few of the chief principles:
BPM is a discipline. That means it’s something that is worked on every day, with tangible changes and adjustments being the goal. This is built on the notion that a business should exist to provide a viable good or service in exchange for something else of value.
Process is the flow of activity. While not necessarily linear, it should be obvious that the various steps in the flow which make up the process are well-defined as advancing the goals of the business.
Modeling brings others on board. There is not necessarily a standard way to model, but it should be complete representation of the process flow. This allows team members to better visualize the areas for improvement and management.
BPM and Outsourcing
When done properly, business process management highlights the core competencies of any company. Because strengthening these competencies makes more sense than trying to shore up weaker areas, outsourcing is often a byproduct of BPM.
Outsourcing for startups can be a tough thing to get used to. Although it means losing some control for possibly the first time in a company’s life, it also means that the founders can continue to focus on doing what they do best, rather than trying to manage every aspect of a growing company.
Some established companies like Target Corp have fully functional BPM departments and are often bringing on consultants and other experts. They’re trying to optimize everything from stocking store shelves to moving shiploads of merchandise around the globe.
Smaller startups can often find help from, well, other startups. Companies like Pipefy seek to help businesses start improving their processes, regardless of their size. Their thought process is that if an organization starts incorporating feedback loops and improvement systems from the beginning, it will be much better poised to adapt and change as the company grows.
It’s clear that constantly and consistently improving a business isn’t a step that should be an afterthought. It comes in daily approaches to handling business tasks, and it comes from long-term strategic thinking that is always striving to be better. To create a smoother product, a better solution, and a faster delivery, engaging in the improvement cycle is the only way to stay competitive.