Modern company management methods are increasingly borrowing foreign methods and technologies. And not because it is fashionable, but because it is convenient and effective. One of these methods breaks up all the routine work into elementary components and then describes in detail each received business process. This takes quite a lot of time, but the deduced scheme allows you to find weaknesses, and excessively inflated functional responsibilities, and fuzzy tasks. Having spent time once, management can transfer part of its responsibility down the hierarchical ladder, freeing up time for strategic planning.
Life according to plan
Another thing is that the personnel of companies often do not understand the significance of this procedure and do not welcome the desire of management to determine the main business processes. Nevertheless, it is increasingly necessary to understand the modeling and description of elementary operations of each unit, and even the employee. Even worse, if the staff of the company there are employees who study the business processes of the company. They are constantly questioning, distracting and interfering in every way with the fulfillment of the direct functional duties of all personnel. What to do?
Let's start from afar. Every morning, most of us face the challenge of coming to work. For its successful solution, you need to wake up in time, pack up and take a seat in some kind of transport (it does not matter if it is a private car or a subway car). Further, each component can be divided into even smaller procedures: in order to wake up in time, you can set an alarm, or you can ask someone to wake you up, etc. Regardless of the method of solution, the result (timely waking up) will be achieved. But the climb, fees and the road to work differ in the method of solution and the final result. Actually, we come to the first definition.
What is all this for?
So, a business process is a certain sequence of simple actions that transform resources into a useful end product. In our life example, there are three different processes, each of which requires its own initial information and, after certain manipulations, gives the desired result. Let's move on to the enterprise. Regardless of the field of activity in each company, work is determined by the professional relationships of employees: the transfer of information, determining the need for a product, analysis of production and resources, etc. And it is important to note that all of the above matters only if three conditions are met:
- information was transferred to the employee interested in it;
- this is done at the right time;
- the form in which the information is presented is quite simple and understandable.
To summarize all of the above, it can be argued that a business process is a stream of information that answers three questions: what, where and when. In order for the work to be carried out smoothly and continuously, it is necessary to determine its components. In this case, there will be no duplication of tasks, lack of contractor or downtime.
When a business process is clearly defined, each employee ceases to be indispensable. Remember how many times you had to wait for someone from your colleagues to leave the hospital (or return from vacation); in your absence at work, the phone literally does not stop ringing, and everyone is trying to understand what and how you are doing. And if you responded to the request of the management and made a rather detailed description of business processes, then you can cheer calmly, and relax, and sometimes just have lunch ...
Turning to the formal language of definitions, we will argue that when describing business processes, an enterprise sets such goals:
- understand the general structure of the organization of activities and determine the dynamics of its development;
- identify current problems and opportunities to overcome them;
- create an understandable system of goals and objectives for all participants (developers, users, customers, etc.);
- formulate the requirements for the necessary software.
Of course, the description of business processes in itself is of no interest. But for reengineering, this is a paramount task. Only by understanding the structure, interconnections and ways of movement of information flows, we can talk about rethinking the semantic load of both the enterprise itself and its individual divisions. But the reorganization should be carried out in order to achieve some goal: improving the quality of customer service; cost reduction; granting great freedoms in making decisions to performers (reducing the time for completion of work), etc.
Most often, the need to describe information business processes appears in enterprises with a functionally oriented structure. The fact is that the goals and objectives of different departments can contradict each other. And this will lead not only to a decrease in the company's profitability, but also to a decline in its competitiveness.
The modern management approach is increasingly process-oriented. All work is considered as a specific set of processes (each of which consists of one or more simple operations). To formalize and standardize this approach, the following categories of processes are adopted (classification occurs in relation to the value added of the product):
- the main ones are those with which the company receives income: production, marketing, supply;
- managers - those that set goals and objectives for units and specific performers;
- supporting - those that provide production with resources, but at the same time do not add value to the final product: training and selection of personnel, financial support, legal protection, etc.
In addition to the already mentioned independence from the human factor and the simplified adaptation of new employees, the description of business processes makes it possible to more effectively manage the company's operating expenses.
Now it becomes clear that for enterprise management it is necessary not only to identify the interconnected flows of information, but also to clearly describe all types of activities. Since we already know that a business process is part of the overall work, moving from one employee to another (whether it does not matter whether it is inside its functional unit or not), we will proceed to the idea that everything in the world can be unified. And professional activity - even more so.
Regardless of the field of activity, each business process can be described by the same characteristics.
- A border is the beginning and end of a simple operation.
- The owner is an employee of the company who not only owns the necessary resources for work, but also plans, analyzes, manages the process; and most importantly - is responsible for the result.
- Input - an information message received in any form accepted at the enterprise, which determines the need for information and marks the beginning of the process.
- Output - information or materialized part of a product that is consumed by a client external to the contractor.
- Contractor - company personnel engaged in one process.
- Resources - the material or informational part of an activity that does not change during the operation (but only contributes to the conversion of incoming information into the final product).
- Quality control - industry or internal (accepted by the company's management) indicators to determine work efficiency.
Mandatory allocation of elementary processes
Of course, not every company needs a description of business processes. Nevertheless, there are a number of cases in which this tedious task cannot be dispensed with. Let's name the main ones:
- The activities of the enterprise are being automated. In this case, the business process diagram translates the needs of the customer into a language that the programmer understands.
- Improving the activities of the company. Not only equipment and technology upgrades help improve the end product; optimization of business processes makes it possible to identify all the strengths and weaknesses of the work and make appropriate management decisions.
- Organization certification according to international standards (ISO). A single quality management system is created for all employees.
How to submit a description to the customer
Business process modeling requires a description of each element. How to do this painlessly for the organization? In world practice, three main methods have been adopted: textual, graphical and tabular.
Textual involves a description of the entire course of work in a simple and understandable sequence. The form and content can be both free (if international or industry standards have not yet been developed), and regulated by documents. For example: the sales department transfers the accounting documentation for the period to the planning department; the employees of the planning department carry out analytical work to determine the dynamics of sales and the need to make adjustments to production; the result is transferred from the planning department to the marketing department, where an analysis of the reasons for the increase (decrease) in sales is carried out, etc.
A graphic diagram of a business process allows you to visualize the result of analytical work. There is no need to recall that the visual perception of information is most effective. Therefore, all kinds of graphs and charts give us the opportunity to quickly understand what is happening and find the right solution.
In those cases when the main task of reforming activities is the optimization of business processes, it is worth using the tabular form of their description. With its help, it is easier to understand the sequence of actions and the direction of information flows. A typical table contains not only a description of the function of the staff unit, but also graphs about incoming and outgoing documents, the contractor (you can specify either the whole unit or a specific employee), etc.
How to properly describe a business process
It is not enough to analyze business processes. The most important thing in this matter is the correctness, but at the same time, the simplicity of the description. To begin with, the name of a single process should be clearly stated. This will help to understand its main characteristics, the logic of implementation and its place in the general chain of production activity.
Then you should indicate what input information is required for the normal execution of the task, and also list the resource support. The recorded sequence of simple operations that make up the process will help you not to miss or forget anything.
Modeling business processes cannot do without specifying the owner of the process and a system for monitoring the progress of its implementation. To do this, in the description, it is necessary to note the normative deadlines for the work and list the documents that are transferred to the next link. To simplify, the description should look like this: "... after conducting a sales analysis for the reporting period, the planning department employee fills out the established form (table), which is transmitted to the marketing department ..."
Simplified description of production processes
When compiling a description, most often employees are faced with the fact that they do not know how to verbally convey the content of their work. In order for the business process system to be clear and structured, you can compose a memo. It reflects those questions that need to be given a clear and maximally detailed answer. So what are these questions?
- What? Describes what exactly is being done in this operation.
- What for? Transmits the purpose of the operation.
- When? Determines who initiates the execution.
- Who! Calls specific performers.
- How? Enumerates the required resources.
The development of business processes assumes that all description methods can be used. Thus, we get the most detailed scheme of work. The graphical option will reveal the relationship of functional units, and the table and text will convey the contents of each operation. Unfortunately, the automation of business processes is not possible without this time-consuming preliminary work.
How to collect information
In practice, there are many ways to obtain the necessary information. First you need to analyze the regulatory documents that guide the employees of the company. Then, personal interviews should be conducted with each direct performer in order to describe the content of his work. Further, to clarify and clarify controversial issues, analysts should use monitoring the progress of business processes.
If a comprehensive approach to solving the problem, automation of business processes does not seem so tedious and useless task.
And yet, if the main task of the enterprise is the automation of business processes, and the management does not intend to attract external consulting companies, the question necessarily arises: "Where to start?" First of all, a working group of company employees is created. It is advisable that members of the working group have excellent analytical and listening skills. After all, as already noted, most of the work is to conduct personal interviews with executors of business processes.
Next, you need to make a real picture of the functioning of the system. Since before the modernization, the enterprise worked and made a profit, there is probably no reason to talk about perfect restructuring. Therefore, it is necessary to fix the system and directions of information flows at the time of optimization.
What the description consists of
In order to avoid confusion and discrepancy in the description of business processes, experts recommend the use of process cards. These are standardized documents that allow to unify all actions regardless of the sphere of influence of the contractor and the complexity of the described operation.
Any description can be divided into the following components:
- unified form of the process (most often a table);
- a business process map (can be presented in any form - a text description, graphic, or table);
- routes (incoming and outgoing flows of information, resources and finances);
- matrices of various business processes (a table of the interaction of different processes, which allows you to identify the main and secondary flows and operations);
- flowchart (business process execution algorithm);
- detailed text description;
- documentation (creation of documents confirming the process);
- identification of business process indicators (search for characteristics and indicators by which it is possible to monitor not only the progress, but also the quality);
- regulations (in other words, job description).
As has been noted many times, any process must be measured in some way. This is necessary primarily to assess the effectiveness of all activities of the enterprise. Most often, experts recommend testing business processes for four indicators: time, cost, quality and quantity.
But business process models are dynamic and diverse. Therefore, it is often not enough to evaluate only the speed of the work; it is necessary to take into account both working conditions and the infrastructure of the enterprise. In addition, almost all industries cannot exist without suppliers, finance, logistics and partners. These are also measurable indicators.
And, of course, we must not forget about information and the human factor. The higher the level of specialist training, the less time it will take him to familiarize himself with the instructions and incoming information.
Most modeling methodologies are now based on the principles of structural analysis and design (SADT - Structured Analysis and Design Technique), as well as some algorithmic languages. We can talk about the existence of several basic models of business process analysis:
- Business Process Modeling - in fact, modeling - reveals the functional side of the existence of the company.
- Work Flow Modeling - describes workflows and is similar to drawing flowcharts.
- Data Flow Modeling - unlike the previous one, it describes the flows of data (information); Designed to compile a sequence of operations.
The Shuhart Deming Cycle
Large business processes (1C allows you to select them from the general list) are recommended to be described in a separate document, which is called the "Rules of work." Everything that is less significant or consists of a small number of simple operations is usually described in job descriptions.
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Both of these factors lead the company to increase competitiveness in the market, which, in turn, has a beneficial effect on both investors and customers.