Business Process or Workflow and the BPMN Standard
How To Get 3X More Revenues Than The Competition?
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
– Benjamin Franklin
How To Be The Firm Of The Future?
McKinsey & Company is the trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions. They are one of the leading proponents that the best way to run a business is to balance short-term performance and long-term health. The proof based on their OHI (Organizational Health Index) is that those organizations that to do perform 3 x times better than those who don’t. This advice continues into organizational functions such as sales when another advisor in this field, Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) outlines that when you properly structure your SaaS business sale sales force that it has been proven to produce a 2 x revenue uplift.
OK great advice for the big boys who can afford McKinsey and SBI. How do the rest of us manage? “
The prevailing paradigm that has underpinned business for the past 50 years is beginning to shift” According to another global consultant, Bain & Company. Effectively your SaaS business may become the firm of the future, which will deliver the benefits of scale and intimacy better and faster (customer experience) to customers in a turbulent environment. The fact is that how way we work today is a legacy of hundreds of years of thinking about the way work is best performed. This thinking was mostly process based on evolving from methods developed by Adam Smith through to today with Six Sigma, Agile, and much more. All of which helped us improve our quality of life, manufacture products at low costs, and, basically, transform life on earth. Going forward, as long as we are continuing to look at new ways of adding value to organizations the future of this type of process thinking will continue. So how does reviewing business process help each of us?
“A business process, business method or business function is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks by people or equipment in which a specific sequence produces a service or product (serves a particular business goal) for a particular customer or customers. Business processes occur at all organizational levels and may or may not be visible to the customers. A business process may often be visualized (modeled) as a flowchart of a sequence of activities with interleaving decision points or as a process matrix of a sequence of activities with relevance rules based on data in the process. The benefits of using business processes include improved customer satisfaction and improved agility for reacting to rapid market change. Process-oriented organizations break down the barriers of structural departments and try to avoid functional silos.” Source Wikipedia
Why should organizations spend so much time and effort on modeling their processes? Well simply, it is to communicate through diagrams the process logic – how the process starts and ends, and the order of the steps – completely and clearly to those who don’t already know how it works. That way all stakeholders are on the same page for understanding a given process in the same way. When that happens your firm will move from chaos to greatness.
Today shifting the paradigm needs to involve and empower all stakeholders, for your revenue growth approach to succeed. Certainly traditional swim-lane flowcharts help pave the way for defining a process(es), or “a systematic series of actions directed to some end”. It helps lay out:
- The steps in a process are actions,
- The results a process seeks to achieve,
- The plan or rules a process follows
Now add-in the latest paradigm shift with traditional swim-lane flowcharts, which is arguably its evolution to BPMN, which stands for Business Process Model and Notation, or a diagramming language for business process models. It is important not because it is superior in every way to other process notations, but because it is a multi-vendor standard, maintained by the Object Management Group (OMG), and widely adopted by modelers and tool vendors alike.
More importantly it allows subject-matter (non-techie) experts of a given process, instead of to work with programmers to define the process(es). Where a BPMN process model describe one possible path from start to end as well as all possible paths. That’s because a BPMN process is something performed repeatedly – not continuously – in the course of business. It is a step-by-step recipe leading from a blank page to a complete process model that reveals the process logic clearly from the printed diagram. The goal is not creativity but structural consistency that all can understand. BPMN diagrams can be drawn by hand, but BPMN assumes use of a software tool. This is because the unique difference of BPMN is allowing subject matter experts to export an executable BPMN which IT can use to further improve existing supporting IT systems.
For example, you are a good size SaaS business that grew fast or bought smaller companies or hired a lot related to your growth. Proportionately, you are a enterprise size SaaS business who just bought out three other companies. In both cases, everyone or each division are still experienced using their respective ERP systems prior to the buy-out. As a result you bring the various stakeholders to come together and agree on a mutually beneficial processes. Let’s say you begin with the order entry system. The resulting BPMN executable can be exported or accessed via API to reconfigure each ERP. Thus aligning everyone’s ERP with the same order management process. For a global enterprise client, they were able to do so in half the time regarding project’s implementation planned time, at a third of the project cost while saving millions.
bEffective services can help you with analysis for optimizing your processes. In the interim please do avail yourself of what’s available in our resource section or opt-in to our newsletter for tips and techniques.
“If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.” – Albert Einstein
Misunderstood, Misused & Miscalculated
Business Process Management (BPM) previous history along with little or no technology support was perceived as the more challenging of business improvement activity. Yet, its potential to align, expand and spark your SaaS business to become the firm of the future is unparalleled. It is the 55 minutes Albert Einstein spoke of.
Organizations often see it as an analyst tool only or a consultant brought it in to recommend a technology, or product or service. This is because to make a recognized contribution to your SaaS business, it needs to be done from a holistic perspective or reviewed across your organization’s functions as a whole for the changes it recommends to take place. Hence, politically speaking BPM often faces resistance or is seen overstepping its role and is a non-starter. If you seek to establish your SaaS business as a firm of the future, along with a consistent revenue growth model. Then you to remove these misunderstanding, misuses and miscalculations
There has never been a better time to stand back and review how better to do business. The SaaS business by its very nature needs just such an approach. As for the current business climate there are critical reasons to do so:
- Pressure to do more with less
- Opportunities for automation
More than ever this means you need to know your process(es) and BPM or now its next evolution with BPMN can help you do so. BPMN especially can make these two critical reasons clear, understood and acted upon in your organization. It is also capable of producing executable processes which can further automate your business processes and more. It can even be integrated into your product development.
Additionally, to properly establish, develop and expand on your SaaS business’ revenue growth methodology, it is critical to ensure buy-in with subject-matter (non-techie) of a process, end users through to stakeholders. Meet with them during requirements gathering and process mapping. They are the best source for identifying and explaining where the bottlenecks are and what opportunity exists for improvement. They are the best source to confirm ideal outcomes for setting expectations around deliverables and output. Make sure end-users and executives both understand productivity will dip immediately following implementation of the new process, as people get used to it – and that’s okay. Only by securing buy-in can you hope to secure the future success that you seek.
For example, we were helping a clients’ executive with the best foot forward around their production and profits expectations. A key process reviewed was ‘how’ their lean manufacturing approach was proceeding. Fast forward to the conclusion, it was one of the spot welder on the manufacturing floor who communicated the best idea to develop, execute and review. It resulted with the client doubling production as well as profits. The welder was previously not asked for his idea because he was not perceived as part of the process for building the firm of the future. bEffective recommends your SaaS business ensures everyone is involved in building the firm of the future.
Also remember that business challenges change rapidly. People are your your only real asset which can change the fastest. For instance, a business might try and use BPMN to speed up the acquisition of new accounts, only to discover that halfway through it needs to focus on quote to cash for consistent cash flow as we outlined in another article. Therefore as you aim to improve your process(es) be ready to shift your improvement goals to constantly align with changing business objectives.
Additionally improvements need to be measured. Make sure that you define clear success/failure metric accordingly. This way you can attribute success to the BPM process fix or optimization. For another SaaS business, we added a few tweaks in their quote to cash opportunity process which resulted in shortening the sale cycle from 14 month to 4 month. The forecast demonstrated a minimum 100% increase in revenue growth. How’s that for a clearly articulated value as a way that businesses understand.
Even a measured failure is a success because it demonstrates what’s missing. Another SaaS client had higher than average accounts receivables. Briefly speaking when we reduced the stack of receivables with BPMN’s modeling help, we uncovered a higher level of customer disatisfaction then expected. Had this continued, it would be disatrous for the the client. Instead it made it easier to justify further optimization processes particularly with marketing’s customer retention accountability. Hint: once improved it boosted annual sales revenue by 23% at 8% less cost.
Business process management is experiencing a resurgence with some of the innovations mentioned. Imagine non-techie business users who know their processes can act, develop and produce a result that your IT can put into play immediately. Imagine had they been able to do so back during 2007/8 financial crisis where the business rules were locked into a difficult to change business rules that took more than a year to fix.
But that doesn’t mean BPMN is without its challenges. bEffective has the necessary services and experts on hand to help you with this clear advantage for the firm of the future. Meantime check out our resource section and opt in to our newsletter for tips and techniques.
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”– W. Edwards Deming
BPMN The New BPM & Replacing Simple Flowcharts
Business Process Modeling & Notation (BPMN) is more than BPM. What if you can integrate into your BPMN your decision (DMN, Decision Model and Notation) and case management (CMMN,Case Management Model and Notation) as well? What if you can integrate AI (Artificial Intelligence) into your DMN and BPMN to help you further improve comprehensive decision and processes related to mortgage approval through to COVID 19 outbreak situations? Did you know about process mining? There is more.
Suffice for now that putting together a business process is easy to do, and will need time to master. For now when you map with BPMN, you gain a quick visual of:
- Exacting clarity of how everything in your business works
- How unnecessary tasks become evident for eliminating, and saving time
- How to keep it keep it simple, clear and immediate so that there is less forgetting, overlooking or bad execution
Sure it looks like prior traditional swim-lane flowcharts. However, it is just so much more than that. For instance, you can represent things like information moving between teams, data being stored on the cloud, and departments working in parallel on the same process(es). More on that later.
It is now widely the way to draw process maps because its simple, easy to understand, precise and can address human centric and IT needs.
“It provides businesses, with the capability of understanding their internal business procedures in a graphical notation, and gives organizations the ability to communicate these procedures, in a standard manner” Trisotech
Your SaaS business process modeling efforts are worth all the time and money you’ve put into them if you’ve avoided:
- Proprietary diagramming notation or simple flowcharts.
- Your team is sure that they’re following all the rules.
- You are using BPMN correctly AND the process logic is clear from the diagram on its own without pointing you to reams of attached documentation.
Creating good BPMN doesn’t require deep technical, just a bit of training. It uses graphical elements to:
- Represent the process
- Better understand the process
- Understand who (and what) is involved in the process
There are four core elements
- Flow Objects
- Connecting Objects
- Artifacts and
Step 1 – Identify Process & Collaborate
Step 2 – Identify Events,
or what happens to impact timing or sequence of activities:
- Start and End events
- Message (e.g. incoming customer request by email)
- Timer (when it is a timed activity such as a specific production run)
- Documentation – usually vendors support a lot of ways to document process here without weighing it down including audio and video where appropriate.
Step 3 – Identify Activities,
or piece of work that needs to be performed (manual or automated)
- Task – There are seven: Send, Receive, User, Manual, Business Rule, Service, Script
- Collapse sub-process.
Note for a flowchart to be clear and understandable, presenting a diagram with 50 task is a non-starter. Think of sub-processes like a drill-down report where you ask the question where are we at with our revenue growth? We are at $10 million, for North America. Drill down, $2 million for Canada. Drill down to top rep, in Toronto for $1 million. Drill down to their top sales, in three types of industry and so on. Sub processes work the same way from C level on down.
As you may have surmised with the availability of sub-process and other features yet to be outlined. It is also an opportunity for you and your team to find redundant processes, as well as common sub-processes. For example, how and what you may want with your customer experience can be defined once. Then it can be distributed across all functions with customer touch points such as marketing, sales, service, production, and administration. As mentioned BPMN support you exporting resulting process to configure your existing customer software accordingly such as CRM, ERP, Marketing and more.
Step 4 – Identify Gateways,
Gateways are decisions points within a business process where the ‘sequence flow’ can take two or more alternative paths. There are three types:
- Exclusive – only one of many outcomes is chosen e.g. cash or credit, or invoice over or under an amounts goes to specific approvers
- Inclusive – all outcomes evaluated true are taken e.g. car purchase which may need cleaning and or car repair
- Parallel – similar to Inclusive but without any conditions e.g. standard operating procedure (SOP) task completed and goes to both manufacturing and documentation review
- Other – Event based e.g. ordering a pizza with timed delivery or Complex
Step 5 – Determine Connections
Flow objects are connected with each other by the connecting objects represented by lines. Connecting objects show the order in which activities will be performed (solid line), what messages are delivered (dash line) and any association to other data, text and/or objects (dotted line). No part of the process is able to function alone. Each part of the process connects with other parts.
Step 6 – Artifacts,
or additional information to inform readers. There are three types data, group or text
Step 7 – Swim-lanes,
There are two types of lanes (can be subdivided) or pools (denote collaborations)
Step 8 – Review,
with all stakeholders and note that modeling is an iterative process
You have been briefed and now ready to make BPMN happened to spark your SaaS business.
“Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing, layout, processes, and procedures.”
– Tom Peters
You’ve read our promise, for the challenge you may be facing along with the ‘how to’ solve it.
bEffective offers services to help your SaaS business establish its revenue growth methodology in whole or for the module you need help to improve upon.
Should you wish to do it for yourself, then check out our resources menu for ‘how-to’ solve the challenge mentioned above as well as others in this area of our website. Keep in mind the research and science dictates the ‘right’ revenue growth approach needs to be built in sequence, integrated and more for achieving the promise percentage, dollars through to consistent cash flow.
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