Introduction to Enterprise Procurement Projects – Part 3 – The Business Process Assessment
What is a Business Process Assessment?
Now that you have established preliminary Goals, Objectives and Criteria for Success for your enterprise project, it is essential to conduct a Business Process Assessment to identify the actual business practices in your organization. When I refer to a Business Process Assessment, I am talking about a comprehensive, objective, and assumption-free evaluation of all the activities, processes, procedures and personnel involved in the production of a specific product such as a payroll run, an accounts payable run, or an AR billing cycle, to name just a few.
Let’s use payroll as an example. An appropriate assessment might begin with a new pay period and should include the examination of all the tasks, steps, people, processes, procedures and paperwork involved in payroll production. How do departments report time to the payroll office? Is it paper based or automated? How much does it cost your organization to produce a payroll check? How many people are involved? How is the payroll produced? Is all the work done in a single system? Are there spreadsheets and exceptions involved? What reports are produced monthly, quarterly, annually? Are there bottlenecks? Excessive mistakes? Recurring problems? Regulatory compliance issues? Problem departments? Problem people?
Do you really know what your process are?
You might think you already know all this and you feel you have a solid understanding of how all your departments conduct business. It is often the case at this stage that executives and managers explain to me what they truly believe to be their business practices and processes. These descriptions are frequently completely wrong.
It is difficult to evaluate new systems if you don’t truly understand your current systems. With systems and staff members that have been running unchallenged and unchanged for decades, staff members, supervisors and managers often perform tasks without questioning the underlying processes. A thorough Business Process Assessment identifies and documents all these processes and establishes a baseline for your current business performance.
Surveys, either paper-based or electronic are a good tool with which to begin but they are no substitute for direct observation and interviewing staff in each department. One possible approach to conducting a system-wide assessment might be to disseminate surveys first and then conduct department level interviews as the next step.
The final product of the Business Process Assessment should be a detailed report describing current, identified practices, processes and problems. This report should also include suggestions and recommendations for improving the processes going forward.
You may find it difficult to perform an accurate assessment using internal staff. Regardless of how well-intentioned, smart and motivated they are, organizational culture, biases, and assumptions are likely to be an obstacle and the objectivity may suffer. If you would like to discuss any aspects of your Business Process Assessment, or any other part of your enterprise project, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © Jeffrey Morgan 2016