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How Business Analysis Contributes to Business Process Improvement

How Business Analysis Contributes to Business Process Improvement

According to the International Institute of Business Analysis ‘the Business Analyst is an agent of change. Business Analysis is a disciplined approach for introducing and managing change to organisations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.’ BPI (Business Process Improvement) is simply improving the process through which your business delivers value by reducing wastage, maximising time and other resources involved in the process including human resources. The collection of all the tasks, systems and structures that enable you to deliver value to customers regularly is called a business process.

An article I read l claims that 93 percent of businesses are engaged in one form of business process improvement or the other. It also states that “57% of companies that implemented process improvement strategies observed improved employee performance.”. If this article says 93%, it is safe to assume that it means about 9 out of every 10 businesses. So what are the odds that your business is not creating more jobs in my niche (business analysis)? It is 1 out of 10, almost nothing. The odds that a fella who is not undergoing a business process improvement is reading this article right now is quite low.

Business Process Improvement is necessary because after a pipe (your business process) has been used for a while, it is inevitable that there will be clogs here and there. You know, water may still find its way out, but it does not mean that all is well. You are merely surviving, not thriving.

As a business analyst, I intend to explain how my skill set contributes to business process improvement. The range of skills in the control of a business analyst are vast and we always deliver more than just what you ask of us. The aim of business process improvement is simply to maximise resources and remove blockages. So how do we do this? How do we dust up your business and make it all shiny again? Find out with me!

How Business Analysis Contributes to Business Process Improvement
1. Process Mapping:

We know you have a dream, but we as business analysts need to know where you are right now, so that we can help you get where you should be. This is the visualisation of the business process, from a to z. Every step, output, role and dependency (parts of your business process that can only be completed after another task has been done eg. writing before editing and proofreading) is noted. An example would be the recipe being used in the production of a pancake company’s pancakes (or the lack of it).

Whenever I have to offer a client a service related to business process improvement- whether under the title of a business analyst or not, I have to gather information through different means. Interviewing employees, reading provided documents, data analysis, observation etc are some of my methods. However, I discovered that observing the business offers the greatest insights in my information quests.

2. Process Analysis:

Having understood how things are done, the next step we usually take is an analysis of the process map. Here we discover all the loopholes. The inconsistencies, the points where resources are wasted and everything that could be done better.

The most important insight however would not be gained if one does not take a detailed look at the processes uncovered. I personally visualise or observe everything and then I take out time to reimagine it just the way I saw it and next I think about it off and on throughout the day. Doing this, at odd moments I catch ideas and insights about what’s going wrong and where.

You could also make use of structured processes like DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control), SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) etc. to determine the causes of the problem and to proffer solutions.

3. Process Improvement:

After the inquiry into the business process has been made and analysis conducted, now is the time to actually take the bull by the horn and decide what should be done. If you are like me, you may have worked with an organisation that has a process so messed up that the deliverables were piling up to the skies.

At this point, the proposed changes have to be tested and validated before they are scaled. The process being properly controlled and monitored is the only way that risks can be minimised in this ever-changing world.

4. Process Automation:

Automation simply means using technology to automate complex business processes. Automate as much as possible! People should have the freedom to do the more creative and productive stuff – just let the robots and machines do the repetitive stuff.

It’s my job to help businesses simplify their processes using technology as much as possible. This is also the reason why we are almost indispensable in any digital transformation process, because really in many cases the developers don’t care about you, we are the ones that care about your business. At this point if all goes well, we also help with the scaling process and change management if necessary.

Quite early on in this piece we established that business analysts are change agents. Change management is necessary to achieve the results promised by business analysts. It is the systematic method of dealing with changes and transitions in an institution. Business analysts anticipate and design this process and support you as you go through it. Since many steps in the right direction involve change, change management in institutions after business process improvement is necessary.

5. Process Monitoring and Feedback:

Iteration and improvement is the way to go in a world like this. Drawing up KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) effective for measuring progress is mandatory. An example could be increasing customer retention rate by 10% in the next 6 months.

With continual monitoring and feedback, your organisation will gladly join the 57% that are benefiting from the positive effects of process improvement in their organisation.

Business process improvement at this time is no longer a choice. To stay in business you need to constantly make improvements and stay ahead of your competition. Think about that application you use often and try to count how many updates they have made over the years, you probably won’t be able to keep up. Following the steps listed above, business analysis will ensure that your process improvement efforts actually benefit your business, don’t leave them out in this effort.


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