A firm foundation for a successful organization starts with business process standardization, an important step for both small businesses and large corporations. Organizations that skip it quickly encounter inefficient collaboration, siloed communication and lack of standardized ways of performing mission-critical tasks.
In this article, you’ll discover the benefits of standardization, the steps to standardize, and examples of how it can streamline the customer service experience to promote success for your organization.
Business Process Standardization (BPS) refers to procedures that apply throughout an entire organization to improve communication, enhance operational performance, reduce costs, streamline tasks and promote overall quality in the workplace.
Without a standardized process, teams are often left to use trial-and-error strategies to improve efficiency. Siloed departments may inefficiently waste time developing unique strategies to accomplish a shared task. Through comparing notes and communicating best practices across team and department borders, process standardization brings cohesion and efficiency to your entire organization.
Start-ups and small businesses often develop unique, organic, even innovative, solutions to necessary processes. While this is a benefit in many situations, it becomes a severe limitation as an organization grows.
Not standardizing business processes means each team, or even each individual, must work through a problem and seek a solution every time.
These individualized solutions may solve the problem, but two individuals or teams frequently reach very difficult conclusions on how to perform a particular task.
Without business process standardization, those separate teams will have a difficult time sharing data, communicating problems or identifying inefficiencies. A key to business success is to have repeatable processes that are easily communicated between employees, teams and departments in an organization.
Moving to a standardized process can take time, but there are many benefits that can affect your bottom line, as well as industry-specific advantages to consider depending on your specific application. Review the benefits to see how they all culminate in a more efficient organization.
Errors in business processes generate waste. Whether it’s time spent on performing a task manually instead of automating it or extra materials used in a process that can have a more streamlined approach, inefficient resource management can add up.
Business process standardization ensures teams communicate the best practices in resource and time management. As a result, you get improved speed and quality of task completion across your organization.
Standardizing customer interactions promotes the sense of a unified brand. It also improves the speed and quality of customer service solutions. Key areas that can benefit from a standardized customer service process include ticket creation, feedback to clients and prompt ticket resolution.
When a customer makes a complaint or points out an issue with your organization, a standardized process allows customer service agents to pass the information along to the relevant team or department for review.
Increasing resource efficiency and improving the customer service model affect the end price for the consumer. Your product or service needs to remain competitive in the market while still maximizing profits. Lower operational costs can help you in either dropping prices to better compete in your market or improving profits for each purchase.
Employees may be able to find an efficient way to complete a task on their own, but this typically involves trial and error and guesswork.
Business process standardization makes it easy to communicate data-driven solutions to common problems across various departments. It also streamlines the training process to help new employees quickly learn not only how to perform their tasks but also how to do so efficiently.
Business process standardization involves establishing and implementing consistent methods, procedures, and standardized processes across an organization to achieve consistency, and operational efficiency.
A standardized process is one that is repeatable and easy to copy from one person or task to another.
In business process standardization, this is generally achieved with automation tools, with over 70% of companies relying on software to improve their processes. Such platforms as business process modeling tools, business process management, workflow automation tools, document management systems can support businesses in their efforts for business process standardization.
For example, Fluix’s automation software doesn’t require any coding experience to automate tasks, create workflows and gather data about each step of a process.
Standardization in business requires an initial time investment. Organizations need to take the time to follow these steps and ensure all relevant stakeholders buy in.
While tailoring approaches to your specific business, these six steps can guide you through standardizing processes in your organization.
Identify the key processes to begin standardization. These could be core business processes, such as order fulfillment, customer onboarding, or procurement. It’s best to work on a few ones at a time and then refine your strategy.
A popular place to start business process standardization is with routine tasks that are easily automated. Emailing a form at the relevant time or sending an update to stakeholders when a particular step of a workflow is complete are examples of steps that take up unnecessary time for employees and introduce the risk of error if not completed at the correct time.
Create detailed documentation of the existing processes. This involves creating a comprehensive and detailed representation of how specific tasks or activities are currently carried out within an organization.
Choose a suitable method for process mapping, such as flowcharts, swimlane diagrams, or process narratives. Flowcharts are visual representations that use shapes and arrows to illustrate the flow of activities, decisions, and data within a process. Swimlane diagrams assign specific lanes to different stakeholders or departments, providing clarity on responsibilities.
Reach your business process standardization goals by creating a personalized framework for your organization. Use the documented processes to create clear and detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). SOPs should provide step-by-step instructions, roles and responsibilities, and any relevant guidelines or standards.
Integrate software solutions that support standardized processes. This may include workflow automation software, document management systems, or other software that enhances efficiency and ensures consistency.
Select tools that have the functionality you need and are easy to use by workers throughout your organization. Here are key factors to compare as you review platforms:
Develop a comprehensive training program for employees affected by the standardized processes. Address any resistance to change through effective change management strategies, emphasizing the benefits of standardization.
Gather feedback from employees involved in the pilot and make necessary adjustments to the standardized processes. Continuous improvement is a key aspect of successful standardization.
Business process standardization is applicable across various industries and can involve a wide range of processes. Here are a few business processes that organizations typically standardize.
Without a standard process to handle customer messages, multiple agents can perform the same task in many different ways, causing confusion for both customers and workers.
When a customer calls to report an issue with a product, a service agent generates a ticket for the particular issue. If tickets aren’t created in a standardized process, some may be missing crucial information about the customer interaction and issue. Categorizing tickets reduces the risk of misplacing tickets or sending them to the wrong department.
Standardizing may include monitoring prioritization to improve response times. It also allows the organization to share best practices in ticket resolution for improved customer satisfaction. This example of standardizing business processes in customer service highlights how to tailor standardization to specific workflows in your organization.
Without a standardized process in procurement, the lack of uniformity between departments can lead to confusion, errors, and inefficiencies.
When selecting vendors, it’s crucial to establish standardized criteria covering aspects such as pricing, quality, reliability, and compliance. Purchase requisitions should follow a consistent process for generation and approval to ensure that all necessary information is captured. Similarly, creating standardized formats and procedures for purchase order generation and contract management helps maintain clarity and consistency in interactions with vendors.
Without a standardized approach to project management, initiation, planning, and execution can vary widely, leading to confusion, delays, and misalignment with organizational goals.
Initiating a project should follow standardized procedures, including the creation of project charters, identification of stakeholders, and the formation of project teams. Standardizing planning and scheduling processes ensures that project plans, task definitions, resource estimates, and timelines are consistently approached.
Budgeting and financial management require standardized procedures to create budgets, gain approvals, and track finances. Standardizing risk management practices helps identify, assess, and mitigate potential issues consistently. Communication plans and change control procedures should be standardized to maintain transparency and manage adjustments effectively.
While standardization in business brings numerous benefits, organizations often face several challenges in implementing and maintaining standardized procedures. Here are common obstacles that can be associated with it.
Preparation for business process standardization takes time. Your organization can expect to save time in the long run by automating tasks and standardizing processes, but the initial setup time comes with a learning curve.
Certain specific tasks and processes are easier to standardize than others. Attempting to automate a complex task or standardize a tailored process that applies to a specific situation can make it a challenge to maintain an efficient standardization process.
Individuals in your organization need to buy into the idea of standardization. A lack of buy-in can affect employee morale and hinder the time-saving benefits of business process standardization. Clearly communicate before, during and after the implementation period to avoid resistance to changes in your business processes.
An overly rigid standardized process doesn’t allow room for unusual events. If a customer has a unique need, a project requires additional support, or another issue arises that changes the standard operating procedure, the process map must be flexible enough to accommodate these situations.
Choosing the right standardization platform is a challenge due to the complexity of available options and the need for seamless integration with existing systems.
Scalability is a key consideration, ensuring the selected platform can adapt to growth in data volumes and user numbers. Compliance with regulations, and compatibility with industry standards are also vital factors in selecting a standardization platform that aligns with your organization’s goals and future changes.
When choosing a standardization platform, prioritize conducting a comprehensive evaluation of available platforms, considering factors such as integration capabilities, scalability, and customization options.
Fluix is workflow automation software that can help you simplify business process standardization with its extensive functionality, including:
By leveraging these and other features, Fluix can help you digitize, automate, and standardize any of your business processes, leading to increased efficiency, reduced errors, and improved operational efficiency.
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