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You’re looking into process improvement, and BPM (Business Process Management) sounds like a great idea to fine-tune the way you work. But now, you discover a whole lot of buzzwords and terminology, and one of these is “end to end process.”
You’ve probably worked out what, exactly, the term means – the act of defining a process from start to finish. The moment you start trying to do this in practice, though, you’ll realize it’s not as easy as it sounds. We’ll look at why you need capture end-to-end processes, and how it can be done.
What’s the Point of Capturing an End to End Process?
Capturing an end to end process allows you to monitor and evaluate everything that your company does to achieve a certain result. Your goal is to make the entire process work as efficiently as possible.
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Settling for basic and cheap project or task management tools is the biggest mistake you can ever make. You get what you pay for. If you try to save a cent - you will lose a dollar. Wasted time (at $40/hour) is far more expensive than the cost of software. There's a huge difference between process management and project or task management. Processes relieve stress, make things predictable - and help you grow and become efficient. Projects and tasks are just ad-hoc, unpredictable chaos.
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Anyway ... sorry for the interruption! Let's resume the rest of the article.
Once you have found the way you want a process to work, you can even automate it. How much of your day is spent allocating work, following up tasks, and putting out fires?
How often do you find that something went wrong because someone decided to do their work in a non-standard way? Did you even set a standard? Are certain departments or functional tasks overburdened while work piles up holding up entire processes?
To make your processes function significantly better, you need to start somewhere – and mapping your processes end-to-end is the perfect first step.
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Where does a Process Begin?
You might ask yourself where a business process begins – and if you aren’t asking yourself this question, it’s worth devoting thought to. The answer isn’t always as obvious as it seems.
Let’s look at the process of making tea. Does it begin when you turn on the kettle? No, it does not. The process of making tea begins when you go to the supermarket to buy teabags – or, we could even say it begins before that because before you went to the supermarket, you realized that you needed to add tea bags to your grocery list. If you’re a really big tea maker, it might even begin with choosing the farmer who produces the tea leaves!
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Anyway ... we'll continue from where we left off above.
To find the beginning of a business process, look for the trigger that sets it in motion. Manufacturing may seem to begin on the factory floor, but it begins long before that. How do you decide what to manufacture? When and how do you decide how much to manufacture?
These questions may be less relevant if you manufacture a reasonably standard item with predictable demand. In that case, you could consider beginning your end to end process at the point where you select suppliers of raw materials. The concept of “end to end” process thinking allows for some flexibility in how you view it.
Where Does a Process End?
Now that we’ve looked at where an end to end process begins, you’ll know that you need to look beyond the obvious. You’ll also know that the way you do business will influence where the end may be.
Using the example of manufacturing, you might decide that the process isn’t complete until your customer pays for and receives your products. After all, what’s the point of a manufacturing process if it doesn’t result in sales and satisfied customers?
In businesses using JIT (just in time) thinking, you might even make the sale before you begin manufacturing. In that case, delivery and a final contact point with sales to gauge customer satisfaction might be the last steps in your process.
You might even find that a business process is cyclical, feeding back in a circle so that the “last” step becomes the trigger for the “first” one.
Mapping Processes End-to-End with Software
Today, there’s software that helps with just about everything – and business process mapping is no exception.
Workflow management software can help you create digital versions of your processes. Other than the obvious benefit of getting a top-down view of the process, the software can also keep track of it and make sure your employees are doing everything right.
If you want to get the very best out of your business processes, give Tallyfy a try – it’s free to start!