Today’s post is the second part of a seven – part series, which is written in order to provide a step by step guide to business processes from the fundamentals to the most sophisticated cases. In this post we review – although not completely – the most general business processes which are present at all companies.
In short: yes. They are present even if not defined or in case the activities are not considered as business processes. It might seem strange at first, but the simplest, well-tried methods and practices are also forming processes and sub-processes, through which a number of tasks are completed.
In contrast to the academic definition, our approach to processes is as follows: all activities are processes that start with a defined aim and ends when such aims are achieved. In this sense, if a professional formulates his or her own ways and methods to perform his or her job, it can be considered as process improvement! The best example for such activity is the case where a professional aims for perfection in a given field, and in order to achieve this goal, he or she experiments – even for years – with new methods, technologies or routines, so that the product (or service) he provides becomes better and better over time. In that case, no professional will consider this as „process improvement”, hence process improvement in this case is not a deliberate action, but effort to find new, more cost – effective, better ways to perform daily tasks.
When we examine business processes and their improvement, the methodology is the same with the difference that in this case not professional, but rather management tasks and activities are improved for more efficiency and effectiveness, so that management would also function better.
Defining management processes are particularly tricky in case of a new business, and thus are challenging for entrepreneurs. In case someone starts a business for the first time, it might be a first encounter with company laws, tax rules, and bookkeeping routines and so on. In many cases these are hard to understand, tricky issues, each requiring different professionals to help the entrepreneur overcome them. At the same time, it is not possible to operate a business without bookkeeping or without contracts. Freelancer professionals – say, lawyers or bookkeepers - can help with these issues, but as entrepreneurs we must understand our own business aims and must interpret them to professionals in a way they understand, thus becoming able to best serve our needs.
Therefore, management activities and processes must be transparent to entrepreneurs and business owners. Since there are temporal and logical correlations among these activities, it is advised to interpret management activities as business processes (not examining each activity by itself but see them through systematically and see how they correlate with each other and the operations of the whole company)
In our next post we will examine the most widespread business processes which are present at mostly all businesses. Through some simple examples we will see which fundamental processes shall be improved and put to practice immediately.