Business process analysis (BPA) explained

Alicia Raeburn 撰稿人特寫照片Alicia RaeburnMay 6th, 2022
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Summary

A business process analysis is a method to review the processes that govern your business operations. This process includes five steps: reviewing processes, collecting data, analyzing processes, identifying opportunities for improvement, and making changes. Learn more about BPAs and how to use them, below.

Many of us have repeatable routines in our workdays. In project management, we might have a series of steps for every new project request. Or a sequence for delegating and assigning items. These are our processes, groups of tasks in specific sequences that make up recurring workflows. When done well, your business process should act as a guide, showing employees how to operate and create in a way that benefits both the company and their own work.

But they’re not a set it and forget it tool. Over time, processes can break down or become outdated. You need to routinely review and analyze them to determine if they’re still effective. If they’re not, you’ll want to look for opportunities to improve them. These reviews, or business process analyses, are highly beneficial for your company. Successful business process analyses can generate more revenue, spur growth, and streamline business operations. 

What is business process analysis (BPA)?

Business process analysis, or BPA, is a method designed to help you review your processes. Processes are repeatable groups of tasks or steps in a workflow that produce a certain result. For example, you might have an onboarding process for new hires or a process for reviewing quarterly goals. There are also broader business processes, such as the decision making processes used in planning sessions. 

BPAs fall under the business process management (BPM) umbrella, which encompasses the analysis of your business processes, their maintenance, and improvement. In business process analysis, a business analyst reviews your existing processes and determines if they are still effective, or if it might be time for an update.

Create a business process management template

Business process analysis vs. business analysis

The key differentiator between a BPA and business analysis is that BPA’s are focused solely on the processes, whereas a full business analysis looks at your business as a whole. 

For example, if you want to update the process for tracking finances, you would need a BPA. Your business analyst would review the steps and actions your team takes to track budgets, purchasing, and revenue. If, however, you’re more interested in determining business profitability, you’d use a full business analysis to review your finances.

Why should you conduct a business process analysis?

Business process analyses can have a huge impact on your business. Robust analyses go beyond inputs and outputs to determine the core values of your processes and show you where there are opportunities for improvement. 

Among the many benefits, business process analyses can help you:

  • Identify gaps: BPAs show you missing links in your most important operations. Often, these directly affect your bottom line, especially when you’re looking at processes for hiring, invoicing, or closing deals.

  • Outline all available resources: If you’re unsure when to say no to a new project, a BPA can help. It outlines all available resources for each process you’d need, similar to capacity planning. This way, you know your capacity and availability for the additional work.

  • Create new processes that align with current culture and climate: Sometimes, cultural or environmental changes significantly impact your business processes. Take the COVID-19 pandemic. First, teams had to determine how to manage a remote team and then how to safely return to office, with many back and forths in between. BPAs help you to create an entirely new process when the current climate demands.

  • Reduce redundancies, inefficiencies, and bottlenecks: According to our research, the average knowledge worker spent 129 hours on duplicated work in 2021. Talk about a waste! BPAs help you improve your process to reduce or eliminate duplicate work. By showing you opportunities to add in reusable templates or rely on automation, you can reduce work about work.

  • Improve employee adoption: The better your processes are, the more people will use them. By routinely analyzing your processes, you’re doing two things: showing your employees that you care about how they work and making workflows more efficient.

  • Create a better process flow: Ultimately, your process should keep changing with your work. BPAs create a better process model for your processes—which is a complicated way of saying, they make it easier to create routine changes and updates in real-time.

Create a business process management template

The 5 steps of business process analysis

Implementing a business process analysis cycle on your team will take some adjusting. Remember, most BPA’s won’t be managed by you directly—unless you’re a business analyst. This is something you’ll likely want to hire out for or, depending on your needs, create a dedicated in-house role to oversee. Regardless of how you launch BPA’s in your company, by following these five steps, you can build a solid foundation for them to take hold and grow.

1. Review how your processes fit into the bigger picture

Your processes should all lead back to larger initiatives and business goals. Processes are the “how” of your business—this is how we achieve our goals. But they should connect to your “why.” For example, if your company’s vision statement is to give everyone in the world easier access to healthcare, every process you create should support this. 

The first step in your BPA will be to review existing processes and see how they fit into workflows, departments, and ultimately, those long-term goals that support your company mission.

2. Collect information on what’s happening now

This is the data gathering stage. Before you can analyze your processes, you need to know exactly how they work. The best way to do this is by speaking with the people who use them the most. Interview key stakeholders, create surveys, and review associated KPIs and metrics. This step will take a bit more time than other steps, but it’s worth it to get a full understanding of the process before making any changes. 

For example, if you’re analyzing how your product team assesses and triages their product backlogs, you’d want to interview the developers responsible for them. You’d also want to look at the key performance indicators of current processes, such as how many items remain in the backlog after an Agile sprint is complete. 

3. Analyze and map your data

Now it’s time for the analysis. Here, you’ll want to compile all your data, including:

  • All process steps

  • Relevant process diagrams

  • Associated team members

  • Current success metrics and KPIs

You can use business process mapping to create a visual layout of your processes and workflows so it’s easier to review them. Process mapping helps you create a flowchart or other visual map of the current sequences and steps so you can better visualize processes. In this layout, it’s easier to identify patterns and gaps in your process flow. 

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4. Identify opportunities for improvement

During the analysis step, you’ll identify redundancies and gaps. These are prime areas for improvement. For example, let's say your analysis shows developers are spending 3 days planning a sprint backlog. Based on interviews with stakeholders and analysis of meeting schedules, you realize different time zones are causing the delay. In this case, new technology options that foster asynchronous communication would make it easier for the team to communicate and reduce the amount of time they spend communicating.  

5. Make changes

Business process improvement (BPI) is where you take action on everything you’ve learned. After your BPA, you’ll use BPIs to adapt and make changes to your processes with a focus on increasing profitability. A BPA is your discovery guide, showing you the in’s and out’s of your business processes. The last and final step is to use all of this information to implement changes that improve these processes or help you create new ones.  

How do you perform a business process analysis?

The business analyst you hire for your BPAs will likely have their own methods and preferred business process analysis tools, but here are some common ones:

  • Root cause analysis: Use this analysis to identify the foundation of your processes and ensure it connects back to your company’s larger goals.

  • SWOT analysis: SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This can be a helpful analysis because it gives you insight into how your processes are succeeding and where they can improve.

  • Gap analysis: Gap analyses show you what’s missing in your processes when compared to your larger company goals.

What tools should you use for a business process analysis?

To conduct a BPA, you need an effective business process analysis tool that can keep all of your data in one central source of truth. It works best in a project management tool, where you can automate tasks, generate reports, and send status updates instantly. This ensures that all stakeholders can see the BPA happening in real-time, and that it functions in line with all your business process automations

When should you use business process analysis?

Most business processes benefit from continuous improvement, but there are situations where a BPA is more helpful than others. 

Business process analysis is best:

  • For older, potentially outdated processes.

  • When you notice a fall in productivity or high turnover in certain areas.

  • When launching a new product or team structure to determine if it’s viable long-term.

The unsung hero of your business operations

Business process analyses peek behind the scenes of your business operations. They show you how you, your team, and your business works. This information is a goldmine of possibilities—use the results of your BPA to boost productivity and improve workflows. Or who knows, your next great growth strategy might just lie within your existing processes.

Automating your processes allows you to do more, with less. Create templates in Asana for recurring processes and easily update them with every business process analysis.

Create a business process management template

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