7 steps to optimize your business processes

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When some elements of your internal processes are unclear, you won't know whether they are reliable and measurable. Business process management allows you to assess a process in its totality. With good business process management, you can identify, locate and improve the weak links. If there is a discrepancy between your ideal process and the current process, you can take the necessary steps to optimize it and achieve the intended result.

This article explores the key steps you need to take to optimize your business processes, because this is an essential element to improving your company's efficiency and performance


What is a business process?

A business process is a series of activities, often organized into workflows, that your business performs to achieve a specific goal.

The main goal of a business process is to enable your company to optimize this series of activities and increase productivity, while minimizing associated costs and improving the quality of products or services that are provided. Reviewing a business process allows you to adjust your company's current working methods, since these are likely to evolve as your company develops and undergoes changes: restructuring, strategy changes, introduction of new tools, new technologies, etc.

Business processes exist and are used in all fields, including production, sales, marketing, accounting, human resources, supply chain management, project management etc. It guarantees the required traceability when there are different departments and individuals involved.

What are the different types of business processes?

The business processes within a company can be summarized and simplified into three categories that define how a company defines its objectives, performs its core business, and provides the necessary support for effective operations:

Management processes: These are the outlines that define where your company wants to go. It includes the planning of major strategies and the allocation of resources.
Operational processes: These are at the core of your business, involving manufacturing and service operations, with a focus on quality and customer satisfaction. As a digitalization tool, Plugnotes is ideal for optimizing these specific business processes. 
Support processes: These help operational processes to run smoothly in all fields: accounting, maintenance, IT management, etc.

The main business processes that need to be optimized:

When it comes to optimizing business processes, there are several key areas that deserve special attention to improve operational efficiency:

Resource management and organization : The digital transformation of everyday processes, including operational checklists, is a key element of optimization. This new approach to digital checklists can significantly increase operational efficiency and minimize errors, a fundamental factor for any SME committed to optimization.
Supply chain and quality control: From supply to reception, including quality control, each stage must be carefully coordinated.
Production: Product assembly and manufacturing must be rigorously managed to guarantee efficiency and quality.
Stock management: Monitor current inventory to avoid surpluses, shortages or supply delays.
Orders and human resources: Manage orders efficiently and optimize human resources management.
Marketing and sales: Sales and marketing strategies must be constantly aligned with market data.
Data analysis: Use data to make fully-informed strategic decisions, based on key indicators such as stock levels, sales and costs.

Why should you optimize your business processes?

Business process optimization is an essential strategic approach to improving and differentiating your company. By fine-tuning these processes, your organization can stand out from its competitors, deliver a better customer experience and handle risks more effectively. It also fosters innovation and ensures compliance with regulatory standards.

Process optimization also boosts productivity, saves resources, increases organizational flexibility and enhances synergy and cooperation between the teams. Each of these steps contributes to building a more efficient and responsive company.

We will take as an illustration the case of AF Belgium, an SME that chose to optimize its processes for service reports from technicians working on customers' premises. Before the optimization, their invoicing was sluggish and there were many errors (loss of information), which affected customer satisfaction and productivity. With Plugnotes, AF Belgium could digitize these processes, resulting in significant time savings (40 hours/month, or €2,000) and better management of inventories, interventions and invoicing.

This example shows the positive impact of the optimization of business processes not only on internal efficiency but also on the quality of customer service.

The 7 steps to optimize your business processes

Optimizing your company's business processes can be achieved through these seven key steps Each step plays a crucial role in creating a more efficient business process management system that meets your company's needs.

  1. Identification of the processes that need to be improved: Start by identifying the processes that need to be optimized. This first step is critical. Analyze every aspect of your current operations to identify inefficient or outdated processes. This may involve questioning employees, analyzing performance data and reviewing customer feedback. Look for signs of late deliveries, wasted resources or unhappy customers.
  2. Goal Setting: Clarify what you want to improve in these processes. Once the pain points have been identified, you need to define what must be improved. These goals may include reducing lead time, reducing costs, improving quality or increasing customer satisfaction. The goals have to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).
  3. Documentation and Analysis: Examine current processes thoroughly to identify bottlenecks. Document existing processes in detail. This may involve creating workflow diagrams to visualize current steps. There are also other analysis tools and methods to evaluate the efficiency of processes in terms of time, cost and quality.
  4. Development of new processes: In this phase, you can use innovative tools such as Plugnotes to create new processes. Develop workflows that eliminate redundant steps, simplify tasks and automate as much as possible. Test these new processes on a small scale before deploying them in full.
  5. Implementation: Integrate the new processes into your daily operations. This phase is carried out gradually to ensure a smooth transition. Start implementing the changes on a small scale, offer staff support and proper training to adapt. Using intuitive tools such as Plugnotes can simplify this phase and reduce the need for major technology investments or complex infrastructure changes. The focus should be on clear communication and employee engagement, ensuring that each team member understands not only the new procedures, but also the positive impact these changes will have on their daily work and the overall efficiency of the company.
  6. Performance Monitoring: Monitor the performance of the new processes. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess efficiency, quality and cost impact. Pay close attention to employee and customer feedback to determine which aspects are working well and which ones need adjustment. This can help you identify problems or areas of improvement.
  7. Review and adjustment: The last step is an ongoing process. Review the processes regularly to make sure they still meet the goals. Make the necessary adjustments to respond to new technologies, changes in market conditions or feedback from stakeholders.

Business processes are essential for business performance

Now that we have gone through the key steps to optimize business processes, it becomes clear that this strategic approach is essential for the efficiency of your business. Each step, from the identification of processes that need to be improved to their review and adjustment, contributes greatly to increasing your productivity. Digitalization, in particular with tools such as Plugnotes, plays a key role in this transformation by reducing costs, improving information management and strengthening data protection.

How do you plan to apply these principles to your company? What are the processes your next optimization project will focus on?

To learn more, join our next introductory session. It is the perfect opportunity to discover how Plugnotes can transform your business process management and help you to make the transition to digitalization.