Optimize Business Processes Within Your Constraints
Imagine an office space or living room in your home as a business process — it’s where everything happens. You have your furniture, belongings, decoration and knick-knacks. Similarly, a business process has its steps, components and integrations with other functions.
Now, consider this: Is your room laid out as efficiently as it could be? Are you using spaces effectively? Is there another arrangement that could mean all your furniture works together more cohesively?
In the same way that moving furniture makes a room work better for you, business process optimization involves reevaluating and optimizing business processes to make them more efficient, effective and better for your business.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What business process optimization is
- Business process optimization vs. business proves improvement
- How you optimize a business process for efficiency
- The benefits of business process optimization
- Examples of business process optimization techniques
- Next steps to start the optimization process
What Is Business Process Optimization?
Business process optimization (BPO) focuses on improving a business’s efficiency, effectiveness and adaptability by optimizing its existing processes in a strategic, targeted and systematic manner. It involves the tracking, evaluation and refinement of business processes to eliminate inefficiencies, reduce waste and reduce costs. It lays the groundwork for how automation should be set up.
BPO can be considered a part of business process management (BPM), which is both a discipline and an intelligent automation (IA) technology. As a discipline, BPM is a structured approach to how we study, identify, optimize and monitor business processes to ensure the delivery of the right business outcomes and results over time. As a technology, BPM orchestrates processes.
SS&C | Blue Prism® Chorus BPM is our BPM technology solution that helps organizations reach total business process transformation by connecting people, processes, digital workers, data and systems.
What about business process improvement?
Within BPO’s move to radically change processes to drive maximum results is business process improvement (BPI), which focuses more on incremental changes within existing processes. BPI is about making processes more efficient, effective and streamlined by reorganizing steps, reallocating resources or improving existing workflows. While they share some similarities, these disciplines act on different levels.
The main difference is that BPO is about optimizing outputs, whether that be in efficiency, costs and so on. In contrast, BPI is about identifying opportunities for improvement within your business processes to reach a higher performance level. However, both do utilize business process automation to achieve their goals.
For example, let’s take an assembly line in a manufacturing company. If the assembly line experiences delays or quality issues, the goal of BPO is to find a solution within the constraints of the situation. This could be training additional workers or reorganizing workstations to optimize the process. In BPI, you would notice that the current assembly line setup is out of date and not meeting longer-term business goals, so you would go through the steps to find incremental improvements for an improved final result. This could be hiring new workers or even introducing new machines.
What is process optimization?
Process optimization is a smaller subset of business process optimization. Process optimization spotlights specific processes or a subset of processes within a business. It doesn’t necessarily consider how these processes relate to each other or the entire organization. On the other hand, BPO is focused on optimizing the broader business unit end-to-end. It considers how all the process outcomes interconnect and work together to achieve goals.
All these terms can be confusing, so here’s a quick recap:
Business process optimization (BPO)
Business process improvement (BPI)
Optimizing processes across the business to maximize results.
Incrementally improving existing business processes.
Optimizing a specific process within an organization.
Optimizes end-to-end business operations.
Improves existing workflows.
Can sometimes include adding new software or tools to improve processes.
Leveraging existing resources, reorganizing steps or consolidating for a more cost-effective way to streamline operations and increase savings.
Implement a new strategy to improve a particular process in its own right.
The Benefits of Business Process Optimization
It can seem like a daunting task to undergo BPO as it looks like such a significant endeavor. But it’s always worth optimizing your processes for the better as it makes your organization more adaptable, efficient and effective. Let’s cover some of these benefits in detail:
- Efficiency. BPO increases efficiency as it simplifies a process by removing unnecessary barriers for workers or automating certain tasks, so employees have more time to focus on what matters.
- Cost savings. BPO ultimately helps improve your bottom line. Your processes are much more efficient, and employees are more productive.
- Competitive advantage. As you continuously optimize your processes, you’ll likely have a significant advantage over your competition in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, product or service, quality management, etc.
- Resource allocation. Your production processes are better optimized, reducing waste and inefficiencies. You get more from your investment.
- Continuous improvement. BPO doesn’t stand still. Your organization is continuously working to improve its processes to operate as best it can with its resources, enhancing the quality.
- Innovation. BPO can free your employees from mundane, repetitive tasks so they can focus on more creative and strategic work.
- Adaptability. BPO is flexible, helping organizations adapt when necessary to adjust to new regulations, customer needs, market conditions, etc.
- Customer satisfaction. As your organization becomes more efficient, this often leads to faster response times, more personalized services, quality improvements and more accurate delivery times that all improve customer satisfaction.
- Employee satisfaction. Employees are much happier as BPO helps highlight outdated processes that can be automated instead of manually done by them.
What Is an Example of Business Process Optimization?
To fully illustrate the benefits of BPO and how it can help your organization, here are a few examples:
Situation: In accounts payable processes, organizations need to pay invoices by a specific date to avoid fees and ruining a vendor relationship. However, approvals can take longer than expected due to the lack of efficient processes. Challenges could be that inboxes are too full, leading to missed requests, or employees are too busy copying information from one portal to another, leading to errors in information.
Optimization: BPO can identify these challenges and where they lie. When process mapping, it might notice that multiple systems are at play and find ways to streamline invoices to a single platform. It might also understand multiple stakeholders are confusing the process and suggest you allocate one responsible staff member. Automation that routes payments to appropriate individuals at the best time, with reminders, might also be recommended.
Users can also implement an automated invoice processing system to capture invoice data directly from emails or scanned documents. With SS&C | Blue Prism® intelligent document processing (IDP), for example, information can be accurately and swiftly extracted to reduce manual data entry errors and save time.
Learn about a real-world case study that transformed their accounts payable process.
Situation: During employee onboarding, everything needs to be sorted before new employees start. This includes their equipment, software, etc. HR teams might be overwhelmed, especially if they must manually create and submit tickets to IT teams to process. This is even more challenging with multiple new starters.
Optimization: Hyperautomation and BPO can streamline and speed up this process entirely by identifying and enhancing individual processes. BPO can understand where the bottlenecks are and edit processes to ensure they’re at optimal efficiency. Ticket submission can be turned into automated tasks, so it eliminates the repetitive, manual and time-consuming work.
Discover how a leading financial services company sped up its onboarding process.
Situation: Your sales team is talking to several leads a day, but this process is delicate, as chasing up a lead too soon may irritate them; too late, and they may have moved on to a competitor. This process might not be optimized either as sales staff might be manually looking for information, using old templates or missing key steps in nurturing leads. The manual effort might also distract them from spending more time providing personalized interactions.
Optimization: Using BPO and automation, sales teams can be more effective at following up. BPO can identify the areas for improved processes, looking for inefficiencies or redundant tasks. You can then implement automation to make it more efficient, such as deploying digital workers to collect and analyze information for salespeople to use in pitches or nurturing. Now, your sales teams are freed from manual, repetitive tasks to focus on building stronger relationships with their leads.
Read about how one of the world’s largest independent investment management firms saved employees 5,000 hours so that they can focus on other higher-value tasks.
How Do You Improve and Optimize a Business Process?
As mentioned before, the goals and focus of BPO and BPI differ. We’ll focus on optimizing in this blog.
The key to optimizing your business processes is planning. Planning is what helps you set clear objectives, identify areas for improvement and design a roadmap that guides your change effectively. It helps you choose the right processes, allocate the right resources and ensure your entire organization is aligned towards the same goal. This comprehensive approach ensures that the optimization of your business processes remains manageable and achievable. You can use the following framework to get started with BPO.
The Steps for Business Process Optimization
#1 — Identify areas for optimization
Your first step is to identify which processes need optimization. Focus on why you want to optimize certain processes and ask yourself questions such as:
- Does this process have lots of rework, or are you correcting issues?
- Does this process have lots of manual data processing or unnecessary steps?
- Are there issues with this process that have been brought up before?
- Does this process generally flag problems?
From the top of your head, you’ll probably already have some processes in mind. But it’s always good to have input from other perspectives. Sometimes, processes won’t be immediately obvious to you either, or complex processes are hard to pinpoint.
At this stage, it’s recommended to do a thorough business processes analysis or process assessment, which can be accomplished with the SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Assessment Tool. Involve your staff and/or implement business process optimization software to help you identify your key areas. It’s helpful to visually do this through process maps.
Undergoing thorough analysis will also help give you a performance baseline for your optimizations.
#2 — Set your goals
Once you’ve identified the core processes to optimize, it’s important to understand how their changes might impact overall business performance and determine what you want to achieve with your optimizations. For example, do you want to lower costs, speed up cycle times, reduce errors, improve quality or raise customer satisfaction?
#3 — Implement optimizations
Here is where you put your strategies into practice. Maybe you’re removing unnecessary steps or bringing automation to a new area. Here are a few more implementation examples:
- Streamline approvals
- Digitize manual tasks
- Dissolve silos
- Automate notifications
- Standardize tasks
- Eliminate redundant tasks
#4 — Monitor and review
After putting your optimized processes into action, it's crucial to regularly monitor their performance to ensure they align with your intended goals. If the optimizations fail to meet expectations, it's necessary to revisit the process and address the underlying issues. At this stage, you’ll also want to get feedback from a range of sources, such as your process owners, to truly evaluate your optimizations.
Adjust as necessary, as optimization is a continuous process that involves making changes as you go.
#5 — Repeat
Here’s where we come full circle. Optimization isn’t a one-and-done thing; it’s an evolving process. Ongoing business process optimization efforts are what sets businesses apart competitively.
As you optimize your business operations and ongoing processes, you should focus on continued improvement. You should repeat these steps and rework areas where needed, even revisiting some of your previously optimized processes. This is because, as your business evolves, your old optimizations may no longer be the best way forward. You want to ensure that your processes remain effective and efficient, contributing to process execution success and the overall success of your organization.
Other things to note:
- Testing: In certain cases, it can be beneficial to conduct tests on your process designs to verify their effectiveness.
- Prioritization: To avoid overwhelming yourself, prioritize the processes that require optimization, focusing on these initially.
How Do You Implement Business Process Optimization?
Following these steps will help you implement business process optimization. It can also be very beneficial to deploy software to help, especially low-code options. Here are a few suggestions to help your business process optimization strategy:
- Tools like task mining and process mining help you record, analyze and evaluate your as-is processes. So you can easily understand your processes and identify those that require optimization with data-driven insights. For example, the SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Intelligence (BPPI) combines process and task mining to help you analyze your processes.
- BPM software provides a holistic approach to manage, model and optimize processes across your organization, such as Chorus BPM.
- Project management software can help plan and execute process optimization projects, ensuring tasks are on track, completed on time and within your constraints.
- Consider workflow automation or task automation software to streamline repetitive and manual tasks during your optimization stages.
Business Process Optimization: Start Today
Fortunately, there are a lot of effective tools to help optimize businesses today. The challenge will be finding the right tools and support to get started, especially ones that fit with your people, processes and capacity, such as SS&C Blue Prism’s Chorus BPM and RPA.
Explore our extensive range of tools designed to enhance your business processes effectively, efficiently and rapidly. Learn more about how our capabilities make us a leader in this space or contact us for more information on how we can assist you with business process optimization.