You’re in a groove. You do things in a certain way and everything is great. Things fall into place and it’s comfortable. What could be better? Well, like they say, you never know until you try. But why try anything different when the current processes are working? Or are they? Is what you do really working or could things possibly be better?
Why do companies change their business processes? Usually, the answer to that question is that some type of crisis situation arose, and immediate action was necessary. It’s a bit like getting an unexpected heart attack and being rushed into surgery. That might not be a good time.
What is a Business Process?
A business process is the way a specific task is performed. A company’s day is made up of several business processes, all hopefully connecting into one goal, which should be sales. If business processes lead elsewhere, change is in order.
The thing about business processes is that they should change as times change. Often companies keep the same processes in place even though the world around them is changing. The gap between business processes and real world events always translates into lost sales.
How Should Business Processes Change?
The first place to look if one were to begin to assess a business process is process management. Does the company have a firm business process structure that everyone uses or does each individual create and maintain their own process? If the answer is the latter, there’s a serious problem. Let’s assume that it’s not that serious and that everyone uses “more or less” the same process or at least you think they do.
Make a List of Business Processes
The next step is to list the processes that formulate the company’s day. Because you are looking at the “company” this will have to be broken down into departments. Once that’s accomplished, each process should be written out in detail.
Pick a couple of individuals from each department and let them write out what they do. This is one way of finding out if the processes used are the company processes and also if people within the department come up with the same results. Hopefully, results will be similar.
Do Actual Processes Match the Original Guidelines?
Once you have each business process written up, compare it with your company procedure manual that contains the original processes that were written up. Highlight the differences. Differences will signify one of two things:
- Employees are not following company procedure or
- Employees are trying to follow company procedure but are making changes to account for environmental changes in order to keep up with “real world situations”.
If the first is true, then management needs to answer why this is the case. It may also be time for new managers. If the latter is true, it probably means that your original processes are dated and it would be worthwhile to take some time to restructure. If you do not have a procedure manual to compare, you’re back to “serious problem”. Write up a procedure manual.
Are Your Business Processes Effective?
In any event, after your processes are on paper, you can assess each process for effectiveness. Don’t hesitate to ask why are we doing this. Just because something is being done and it seems fine, it’s best not to make any assumptions.
It’s good to question each item even if you conclude that it is sound, and effective and should remain a part of the process. You may find that there is no point to some things that are being done on a regular basis. You may also find that there is a better way than the current way. Companies usually find that many costs and inefficiencies can be eliminated simply by going through this exercise regularly.
How Staffing Software Can Improve Business Processes
Restructuring business processes is a scary thing. It’s easier when your processes are automated. This is where good software comes into play. If you have good software that models your business processes, all you need to do is make sure everyone is trained on how to use the software in the way you want it used.
Should software be selected that exactly fits your current business process model, or should you model your business to the software? Well, that’s a tricky question. There’s an answer, but it’s not always the same answer.
Modeling Business After Staffing Software
Part of the equation always has to be how good your current processes are. Are they effective? Do they address current business needs of your business and the customers you serve? Sometimes it’s not entirely a bad idea to model your business to the software. Sounds crazy, but good software always has the input of thousands of users. That means that good staffing software can be the melting pot of some great business ideas that are making other companies money. All that can be yours for the taking!
Staffing Software Should Serve Your Needs
Is your current software serving your needs (business processes) or is much of the work still not documented and performed without using the system? Can you track employee performance and business results with your software?
Your software should be like a “deluxe toolbox” that contains tools that you and your employees use regularly in order to accomplish business tasks and analysis. If your software is not being used in this way then check the cause. Be careful so that an appropriate conclusion is drawn. The answer is not always new software.
Better Training On Current Software
Many times your current staffing software would serve you well if everyone were trained on how to use it properly. Sometimes companies buy new software but have seriously deficient business processes and they blame all of their problems on their software. Remember, software is only a tool that you should use in order to carry out your business processes. Processes have to exist first.
How to Shop For New Staffing Software
If you have determined that you need new software in order to execute your business model, no doubt you will be embarking on a journey of system demonstrations. How do you choose? The best way is to pick software that allows you to execute your processes comfortably and effectively. You should, however, be open to new ideas.
Even though you have determined that your processes are sound, perhaps you will find a better way through software. Remember those thousands of users that contribute to good staffing software. You may want to modify some of your processes if you find some good ideas.
In selecting software, be careful not to be wowed by technical buzzwords and/or flashy features that may not contribute at all to your business goals. The software needs to carry out those daily business processes. It needs to be “your deluxe toolbox”.
Software Cannot Solve All Your Problems
There is no software in the world that will do everything exactly the way you want it. Select software that you feel comfortable with, and that contains the core of what you feel is important. If it does not feel right or you find yourself making major concessions, look for something else.
Yes, even if you have been through a zillion demos and are frustrated and blurry eyed. If you have exhausted every possibility that’s available for your industry and still can’t find anything that feels right, perhaps you should take another look at your business processes.
Terri Roeslmeier is president and CEO of Automated Business Designs, Inc., software developer of Ultra-Staff EDGE software for the staffing industry. Ultra-Staff EDGE is a full-featured software solution with components for front office, the back office and the web.
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