About business processes III. - How to identify your processes?


In our previous post we looked through the formation and advancement of processes and also concluded that all businesses are operating based on business processes.

Today's post is the third part of a seven part series, dedicated to provide insight into the realm of business processes from the fundamentals to the most sophisticated solution which might require serious IT background. Today we examine the operative processes which are present at all companies and through some examples we will define their steps.


So, what kind of processes do I have in my business?

We can state with confidence, that the following activities - based on our last post, business  processes - are present at all companies.


Offer issuing processes

In case a new lead shows up in our sales funnel, we must give an offer to them (after a number of iterations usually) This activity can be simple and easy, such as sending a price list to the prospective client.  Or it can be more complex, for example in case or tailored production or services, in which cases project costs, material costs and persons' costs, project timing and other factors shall be calculated. The offer can only be handed to the prospective client after these measures are taken into account and are calculated in the offer. As a process this chain of activities can be described with the following steps:

  1. Measurements
  2. Cost calculations - materials, peoples costs, other costs, etc.
  3. Deadlines, timeframe required for completion
  4. Other terms and conditions
  5. Preparing the final offer
  6. Handing out the offer

Of course, the above extract is a simplified example of more complex offer issuing processes - however, it clearly shows how often such processes are applied in practice.


Contracting processes

Let's assume that the above described offer has been accepted by the client! That is good news, yet a number of operative tasks follows this step: All details shall be iterated, all these shall be written in a contract, which shall be approved from legal, financial and business sides, then it shall be signed.

In this case the process would be quite similar to the following:

  1. Preparation of first draft based on previous iterations
  2. The draft shall be approved by the management
  3. The draft shall be approved by a legal professional to ensure compliance
  4. Then the first version shall be sent to the client
  5. Modifications required by the client shall be iterated, thus more versions of the contract before the final agreement shall be prepared.
  6. Legal check of the final agreement
  7. Approval of the contract by both sides.


Service completion processes

After approving the contract, all tasks deriving from it shall be completed. In this part, professionalism and the details of completion are determinative, since quality and timing depend on these - thus client satisfaction is greatly impacted by these factors! Hence, in such cases it is even more important to ensure the constantly high quality of all routines and activities related while keeping the costs at reasonable levels. Since all projects and organizations are different it is not possible to highlight a certain business process regarding completion, but only a general framework that can be tailored as needed:


Service completion framework

  1. Preparations (sourcing, purchasing, etc.)
  2. Preparing the working area
  3. Implementation
  4. Handover
  5. Client approval/modification requests
  6. Proof of performance
  7. Billing


 Production process framework

  1. Preparation (planning, sourcing of materials and instruments, appointing persons)
  2. Production preparations (setting up machines, importing plans, training persons...)
  3. Starting the production, manufacturing samples
  4. Client approval of the samples
  5. Producing the required quantity
  6. Delivery of finished goods
  7. Goods takeover by client
  8. Proof of performance
  9. Billing


As it is clear from the above, these steps - leading to appropriate project completion - are rather complex. Therefore it is of key importance that these activity chains are kept transparent and manageable, so costs can be kept low and inappropriate completion can be avoided.

For the above processes and for some, widely present operative processes are quickly becoming routines. As the routines are followed, a certain level of efficiency can be achieved. At the same time, such routines shall be recorded in a written form, as correct completion of these routines can be passed for example to new colleagues or  other persons involved  - directly or indirectly - in their completion. Hence, constantly high quality of the delivered goods and services can be ensured in case of simple routines.

To define and manage more complex routines - viz. business processes - IT support is always required. A workflow system, flexible enough to support your organization can be a great enabler to efficiency, cost saving and customer satisfaction while it keeps your business organized and transparent.

Defining business processes precisely, step - by - step will be detailed in the next post. We will see how to create smaller steps, include decision points, appoint persons and set deadlines.