5 Steps to Business Process Analysis

Learn about the steps involved in business process analysis, including what it is, its benefits, how to conduct one, and what methods to use.

Business processes are repeatable activities and tasks that, when completed, achieve an organizational purpose. A business process must have discrete inputs and a single output. Business processes include everything from hiring new employees, to onboarding new customers, to issuing purchase orders or passwords.

What is business process analysis?

Business process analysis is the practice of examining essential business processes with the goal of optimizing them to improve the overall efficiency and accuracy of workflows. The analysis involves reviewing not only the individual steps of the process, but also the flow of information among them, and the stakeholders involved.

Business process analysis is a subset of the broader business analysis, which examines high-level business goals and how different parts of the business impact them. Business process analysis isolates a specific workflow in order to optimize its operation.

Benefits of business process analysis include:

  • Speed and productivity improvements, by identifying bottlenecks, better automating manual steps, and upgrading legacy software.
  • Error reduction by eliminating unnecessary steps and adding additional automation.
  • Increased transparency with monitoring systems so that stakeholders are familiar with the information-flow, and who is responsible at any given time.
  • Unlimited iteration by continuously tracking changes in performance and improving the processes over time.
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Business process analysis methods

The exact method used to perform a business process analysis will depend on what’s being optimized, and any problems that exist. Some of the most common methods include:

  • Gap analysis: A top-down approach that compares the performance and outcomes of an existing process with projected outcomes of the desired process. 
  • Experimentation: A method of making small adjustments to a process to see how each affects the desired outcomes. While this can take many iterations, it may uncover valuable improvements that would be difficult to discover in a top-down analysis.
  • Value-added analysis: This method takes a look at each step of a process to determine its value in the workflow, with the goal of removing unnecessary or redundant steps.
  • Root cause analysis: This method begins with a problem and works backward to discover and understand the root cause. This is useful in cases where there is a known issue that needs to be solved.

Steps for a business process analysis

Once you’ve decided on a business process analysis method, you’ll want to follow these steps in implementing the analysis:

1. Identify the business process to optimize

The first thing you’ll need to do is identify the scope of the process so that it’s clear exactly what to analyze and optimize. This includes the overall workflow, the individual steps involved, the information flow, who is involved, and so on.

For example, to analyze an HR recruiting process, you’d define the steps of processing candidates, how interviews and reviews are scheduled, who performs the interviews, how candidates are notified of the status of their applications, and what systems are used to track the progression.

2. Determine the goal and objectives

Next, identify the outcomes you’d like to improve. This makes it clear what needs to be optimized for so that each part of the process can be analyzed with respect to a specific outcome.

For example, a customer service workflow involves prioritizing customers’ requests, analyzing the issue, determining path to resolution, updating the customer on progress, and resolving the issue. Most companies want to maximize customer experience and minimize time to resolution. With this in mind, analysts can work to improve service and reduce bottlenecks that may slow the process.

3. Analyze current workflows

With the process, goals, and objectives clearly defined, you can begin to analyze the process. This may involve looking for bottlenecks, experimenting with changes, identifying root causes for problems, and so on.

Using the customer service example above, if you’re trying to understand a slowdown in resolution of customer service requests, you may use a top-down analysis to discover what steps in the process take the most time. Then, investigate how or why a specific step is a blocker for the rest of the process. Perhaps the customer service team is understaffed and the customer requests aren’t prioritized fast enough.

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4. Determine a resolution plan

Once the issue or improvement is identified, it’s time to decide on the path to resolution. This may involve human improvements, like staffing, or software improvements like automating a manual step or integrating with a data source to improve quality of service.

For example, an organization’s procurement process may require managers approving or denying purchase requisitions depending on department budgets. A business process analysis may find that these manual approvals are a bottleneck. Workflow automation software can automatically approve or reject requests based on predefined budget rules, and alert relevant stakeholders when manual analysis is needed so they can take action quickly.

5. Set up monitoring, and iterate

Even after a business process analysis is performed, the process is not perfect nor complete. Rather, the analysis should be continuously reevaluated. New software and other improvements may become available that can make the process even better in the future. Setting up monitoring tools and defining KPIs can ensure that quality is maintained over time and changes to performance can be quickly identified.

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Business process analysis is a powerful tool for improving the performance of essential workflows in all types of organizations. However, process automation requires software that can easily implement the required actions in a collaborative and secure environment. Pipefy is a no-code BPM solution that provides all the tools necessary to build or improve a workflow in minutes. Try Pipefy for free to see how you can optimize your business processes with workflow automation.