Providing goods and services requires any business to conduct multiple interactions between people and systems. These internal processes must work well to achieve a high level of efficiency and productivity, which leads to greater customer satisfaction. Avoiding the many problems caused by inefficient internal processes requires organizations to continually monitor and improve them.
This guide discusses the benefits of improving internal processes and the steps to achieve this goal.
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Internal processes definition
Internal processes occur entirely within an organization, without any involvement from external partners. They include actions that employees perform daily, ranging from simple tasks like managing purchase orders to more complex ones like complying with government regulations. Regardless of their complexity, improving these processes requires organizations to invest in strategies that make them faster, cheaper, and more effective.
Benefits of streamlining internal processes
Internal processes form the foundation of any company; many are unique to it. Improving these processes is essential for growth, especially those that share information between groups within an organization. This practice allows groups to work together more effectively and reduce costs.
In particular, improving internal processes reduces the cost of overhead and manual tasks through automation. This is especially true when these changes result in less paper documentation, which is labor intensive due to the need for copying and printing.
Improving internal processes also increases operational consistency, since businesses know what their employees are doing at any given time. In addition, staff members can respond quickly when something goes wrong.
Continually improving internal processes is particularly important for helping companies remain profitable as they grow. A clear set of objectives for improvement also allows them to track their progress and keep improvements on track. On the other hand, internal processes are more difficult to manage when they remain fragmented from each other.
Examples of internal processes
Common examples of internal processes include:
- Operational processes
- Communication processes
- Decision-making processes
- Innovation processes
- Quality assurance processes
Operation processes are the tasks that an organization performs each day to create its products or provide services for customers. For example, a furniture manufacturer may procure wood from lumber suppliers, then use it to build furniture which it will distribute to retail outlets. The primary objectives of operational processes include the following:
- Increasing manufacturing rate
- Improving resource productivity
- Minimizing marketplace risks
- Maximizing yield
Internal communication forms the basis of everything an organization does, from discussions between leaders and their teams to collaboration among team members. It includes a variety of mediums, such as email, instant messages, memos, newsletters and videos. In fact, there is often so much internal communication that it affects processes such as the implementation of new policies, approval processes, and onboarding procedures. This means that it plays a crucial role in the success of anything involving interactions between people.
Decision-making processes consist of a series of steps that determine the best course of action to achieve a goal. Within the context of internal processes, team members take these steps to determine a path for business initiatives. These decisions should be based on objective analysis, often performed by business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools.
Any real-life business decision involves selecting a path for an initiative from many available options. This variety means the number of decisions that members of an organization must make on a daily basis is quite high, especially in large enterprises. As a result, effectively implementing an effective decision-making process is a crucial element of successfully managing business operations.
Innovation processes allow an organization to reach new markets by creating new products or services, which is essential for attracting new customers and remaining competitive. These processes include identifying new business opportunities and applying emerging technologies. Once an organization selects a new project to develop, it may also use new techniques to design it, set goals and introduce it to a market.
Examples of objectives for innovative processes include creating a unique product in a particular category. A company may also innovate by offering products for a new market or setting sales goals for a product that has just been released.
Quality assurance processes
Quality assurance (QA) processes create a framework to ensure an organization conducts other processes systematically. They also promote practices for continuous improvement, which are vital for remaining competitive. In addition, organizations use QA processes to maintain regulatory compliance, improve customer satisfaction, and achieve revenue goals.
Organizations should also use these processes to identify and define the resource requirements of other processes, whether they’re employees, materials or technology. Additional QA processes include establishing standards for documentation and metrics that measure quality and performance.
How to improve internal business processes
All organizations must constantly improve their internal processes if they wish to remain competitive. The following strategies can help achieve this goal.
1. Assess existing processes
The first step in ensuring employees do their jobs correctly is to review existing processes and revise them if needed. This includes understanding what each process does and how to perform it. This practice will help identify problems and develop ways to prevent them from recurring.
The next step is to create new processes and changes to the business model that reflect the latest industry standards. It’s important, however, to test these processes thoroughly before implementing them in live systems.
2. Define process objectives
After reviewing current operations, the next step to improving them is to refine their goals. Identifying areas that need improvement often involves thinking about the tasks that are challenging employees, such as a stage in a production line that routinely experiences congestion. Addressing these issues before they become problems can be highly effective in saving the company time and resources.
3. Establish process documentation and standardization
An organization can lose institutional knowledge when a long-time employee leaves, which can take a great deal of time and effort to recover. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) that include proper documentation of work knowledge can keep this information within the company, even when critical employees leave. This practice ensures that no single employee is responsible for business-critical processes. SOPs should also include an offboarding process that enables knowledge transfer.
4. Integrate automation and technology
Businesses can perform some of their internal processes automatically, typically repeatable tasks requiring little to no human intervention. Automating these processes frees up employees to spend more time on tasks requiring human creativity. Process automation thus promotes better operational efficiency and performance in the long run.
5. Empower people with process-oriented mindsets.
Optimizing workflows enables employees to make the most of their experience, knowledge and skills, allowing them to deliver the best possible value to a business. Users are able to be more creative and innovative, which are highly beneficial traits in modern business. Empowering employees with these abilities also increases their loyalty and happiness, reducing turnover.
6. Continuously monitor and evaluate processes.
The ideal workflow for an internal process can quickly change due to new technologies and changes in market conditions. Therefore, it is imperative to conduct regular reviews to identify additional areas of improvement. This practice helps ensure an organization continues making appropriate adjustments in response to the latest data. Organizations should consider auditing their internal processes at least once per year to maintain a culture of continuous improvement.
Overcoming challenges in internal process implementation
Keeping pace with today’s dynamic business environment requires companies to make many changes to their internal processes. When a business outperforms competitors by increasing revenue through improved productivity, the volume and complexity of change will only increase. As a result, only one in three initiatives for change management succeed. Major challenges in these initiatives include resistance to change, lack of resources and support, and scaling internal processes.
Resistance to change
Employees become more invested in an internal process the longer it remains in the organization. This tendency increases with the company’s size, which can create powerful resistance to change. Factors driving this inertia include issues like personal agendas, politics and poor behavior control, all of which come to the surface when implementing changes. Leaders can overcome these barriers by identifying the impact on each stakeholder. This practice allows them to address both the individual and organization transitions that will be necessary.
Lack of resources and support
Implementing changes to internal processes requires the participation of experts in risk management, but organizations often lack these resources. This talent gap can result in poor communication regarding the risks of these initiatives, making it critical to invest in the right human resources to ensure success. Organizations need to educate everyone in all business units regarding the importance of internal changes, including the possibility of disruptions and outright failures in the company’s operations. Executives must also understand the goals of these initiatives to ensure they have adequate resources.
Scaling internal processes
Increasing the scale of an organization’s operations is generally expensive, especially when it involves transformational change. Overcoming this challenge requires strong governance on multiple levels to implement these changes, requiring a structured approach to change management. An accelerated implementation methodology is an effective solution to this problem, as it allows organizations to scale initiatives of any size and complexity.
Streamline business processes with Pipefy
Internal processes are a critical aspect of any business’s operation, whether they provide a safe working environment or help employees do their jobs more efficiently.
Improving these processes with the right business process automation (BPA) solution increases innovation and reduces waste, making your business more competitive.
Pipefy’s BPA solution also provides an alternative to outsourcing that keeps teams agile, while allowing them to scale their operations. In addition, our solution creates consistent user experiences by easily integrating into existing workflows.