Want to get the best results out of your processes?
You’ll need to know how to do Business Process Analysis (BPA) to find mistakes and potential performance improvements.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to do just that, including:
- What EXACTLY is Business Process Analysis
- 3 essential BPA benefits
- A step-by-step guide on how to do BPA
- How to perform BPA with Business Process Management Software
So, let’s get started!
Business process analysis is the act of studying, understanding, and evaluating all aspects and components of a given business process.
It is carried out with the intention to improve the efficiency of the process.
Usually, process analysis is part of a bigger initiative of business process improvement.
After all, if you want to improve a process, you need to first analyze it and find where, exactly, it’s underperforming.
Without analyzing your process, the solution you find will be just like a shot in the dark.
Process analysis is also part of business process management which is a methodology of constant process analysis and improvement.
Think business process improvement, but on a regular basis, not just doing it once or twice.
Performing business process analysis will help you find where your process is underperforming. This in turn allows you to fix these inefficiencies, reduce costs, and improve your bottom line.
And there’s a TON of other benefits to BPA like:
- Better documentation of implicit knowledge. To analyze your process you first have to collect all the explicit and implicit data that is involved in it. When you document the implicit knowledge (knowledge that was previously not written anywhere) it becomes visible and easier to analyze. Also, once this knowledge becomes tangible, it will stay within the company even after the employee who brought it in the first place leaves.
- Identifying problematic areas. When you analyze the process in detail, you reveal the root cause of certain bottlenecks, weaknesses, and inefficiencies. In this way, you can eliminate the tasks that are troublesome and come up with a more efficient way of getting work done.
- Enabling continuous improvement. The insights you will get from doing business process analysis will lead to new opportunities for improvement. Sometimes tweaking a thing or two, or eliminating a redundant step can make a big difference and save you lots of resources and time. All you need to do is analyze each step in more detail so you make an informed decision on what to change.
First things first. In order to analyze your process, you have to identify which process to target.
We recommend going for processes that have a critical impact on your business. Think, the ones that directly affect your bottom-line, end-product, or costs.
Or, you can also target a process that is underperforming overall.
Once you decide on which processes to prioritize, you have to start collecting information on them. This will help you tremendously when it’s time for the actual analysis.
One thing you could do is gather all documentation on the process and interview the key figures involved in it.
They usually have valuable insights on the process, since they work directly with it and they know all the pain points.
When you collect information, make sure to include:
- What’s the order of the tasks in the process?
- How many people/departments are involved in it?
- What are their responsibilities?
- How does the information flow within the process?
And many more depending on the process you’re analyzing.
This stage is all about gathering information. Don’t worry if it seems like you are spending too much time on research.
It is better to have more information so that you can, later on, simmer down to the essentials rather than missing on some key insight which will mess with your analysis on the next stage.
Once you have all the information about the process, it’s time for analysis.
The analysis will help you understand the process in its current state, also known as the as-is state. This way you can pinpoint where exactly it underperforms.
Here you want to analyze in-depth and have all the details in front of you. A process map like a flowchart, value stream map, or SIPOC can be useful to visualize the as-is process.
Once your process is visualized, you can start analyzing different steps of the process to figure out whether:
- The step is redundant.
- There is a more efficient way to perform a certain task.
- You can automate some of the repetitive tasks.
- You can perform the step in a more efficient way.
- The step is taking up too many of your resources and/or time. If yes, can you change that, and how?
Depending on the process, you can come up with more questions.
As a given, you’re not just in it for the analysis – you also want to improve the process.
At this stage, you want to create a better version of your process, also known as the to-be state. Here you come up with possible improvements based on the analysis from stage #3.
You have to think about the long-term effect of the changes you want to make.
Don’t search for quick fixes to your ongoing problems.
Instead, think about how you can find an effective long-term solution that will help you improve your processes continuously without spending many additional resources.
After all the time you spent on research and analysis you don’t want to end up fixing 1 issue but creating 10 others.
The improvements you will make depend on your specific situation, the business you’re in and the process you are targeting.
So, based on all these factors you will decide whether you want to completely reengineer your process or just make some small changes to it.
Analyzing your processes from scratch, without following a proven technique or analysis framework, can cause you a ton of headaches.
It can also cause additional overhead. To save you from that, here’s a list of the 5 most used business process analysis techniques.
This technique includes identifying the gap between the current performance and the desired future performance of a process.
You can carry out a gap analysis using the following steps:
- Understand the current state of the process. Identify problems, inefficiencies, etc.
- Define the desired future state. Set clear goals you want to reach.
- Identify the gap between them. What lacks in the current process that prevents you from reaching your future goals?
- Plan to reach the desired future state. Develop a plan for improving your process so you eliminate the gap.
If you decide to use this technique what you need to do is identify which process activities add value and which don’t. Then you search for a way to simplify the process and eliminate any wasteful steps that don’t add value.
Here’s how to do value-added analysis, step-by-step:
- Define the scope of analysis. Where does your process start and where does it end?
- Identify key figures in the analysis process.
- Create a process flow of the current process.
- Create a process flow with only the value-added steps.
- Develop your desired process flow.
- Summarize your findings and recommendations.
This technique will help you identify the underlying causes of the problems that occur in the process.
To conduct a root cause analysis you need to:
- Define the problem.
- Collect supporting data.
- Identify possible reasons for the occurrence of the problem. Here you can use different methods like the 5 Whys or a Cause and Effect diagram.
- Identify the root cause.
- Find possible solutions and implement them.
Sometimes, you can simply observe the targeted process in person while it’s happening. This can give you an idea of how the work is actually done and where things go wrong.
To do business process analysis through observation, you can follow these steps:
- Identify the process you want to observe.
- Get permission and details on when and how you can observe it.
- Observe the process and pay attention to the details.
- Record all your observations and analyze them.
Sometimes the most valuable insights come from the staff that has the most experience with the process.
To analyze a process using experience examination, you need to:
- Identify the people who have the most knowledge on the process you have in mind.
- Interview them and let them share their input and suggestions.
- Analyze the process and think whether you can put some of the advice into good use.
Even though business process analysis is simple enough to understand in theory, carrying it out in practice can become a bit overwhelming.
If you want to get a top-down view on your processes and track their performance in real-time it is a good idea to use a business process management software (BPMS).
This will make your job easier since the software will notify you if there are any delays, approaching deadlines, and underperforming processes.
BPMS can also:
- Automate some of the manual repetitive tasks which will make your processes smoother and let your employees concentrate on the more meaningful work.
- Improve your internal communication. When everyone in the company is using the software, they get notifications on their deadlines and see who does what and when. This leads to less room for miscommunication and mistakes.
- Increase productivity and performance. With clear communication and transparency, it is only expected that the efficiency levels will significantly improve and the processes will perform significantly better than before.
By now you should know all the basics of business process analysis and you can go ahead and implement it in your business for better results!
And lastly, let’s recap what we’ve covered so far…
- Business process analysis is the act of studying, understanding, and evaluating your processes with the intention to improve them.
- The top benefits of BPA are better documentation, identifying and eliminating problematic tasks, and continuous improvement.
- The 4 steps of BPA are identify the process, collect the information, analyze the process, and improve.
- The best techniques for BPA are gap analysis, value-added analysis, root cause analysis, observation, and experience examination.
- You can conduct business process analysis much easier by integrating BPMS in your daily business activities.
We hope you enjoyed our guide and don’t forget to follow our blog for more leading advice on process management!