This article is part of our Process 101 guide.
What makes your business special isn’t what you do, but how you do it.
It could be how your service efficient and responsive.
It could be what makes you quirky, or just the things you do that are so much better than the competition.
It’s what gives you the edge.
And what’s another name for the way you do things? Process.
Optimizing these processes is key to achieving your business goals, and that’s where business process management comes in.
Below is a list of 27 processes every business needs, and if you’re already using beSlick you can click the title to import each process Template directly into your Organisation.
What is Business Process Management (BPM)?
Business process management is a discipline, or practice, through which companies can improve their processes. Rather than taking things for granted, you analyze, measure and monitor current processes. From there, optimization starts. This could be through streamlining existing processes, outsourcing certain business activities, or automating repetitive sub-processes.
How can process mapping help?
Without efficient processes you become inefficient, ordinary, uncompetitive. With effective processes, you can replicate your successes over and over again.
Process mapping is often done through flowcharts, and it details every step from start to completion. It’s a great way to spot bottlenecks or other problems in existing processes, as well as set up new processes.
But in order to make a start with process mapping, you need to understand what processes your business already has, and what it needs.
Areas for process improvement
It is worth noting that if you document a process and it never changes, that can be as detrimental as having never documented it at all. Continual feedback and improvement is what keeps your business constantly improving and beating the competition.
To help you get started, there are a number of core processes that every business needs and each one can be honed to make you the best in your field.
We’ve compiled a list for you so that you can review against your current operating procedures and find opportunities to redesign, streamline, and optimize your own.
Free templates to get you started
In addition, we’ve written sample template processes for the majority of the list, saving you from having to develop these from scratch. This can help with standardization, and makes process mapping much quicker.
These processes have been designed to provide a starting point from which you can tailor them to suit your business. Where the process names are linked, they’ll allow you to access the template through the beSlick software. So without further ado, read on!
Create the best impression with your new customer with a solid onboarding process. Set expectations and demonstrate that they made the right decision in engaging your company. Have a clear set of activities in mind – that could be an introductory phone call, with a follow-up email, for instance – and ensure all your team members know what’s expected of them. We’d argue that this is in the top 3 of processes every business needs.
This process defines how you communicate with your customers on an ongoing basis. Arranging regular checkpoints allows you to investigate opportunities for upselling or extending the service you provide. Your information technology should be set up to help here, providing you with up-to-date customer information to personalize your outreach.
Although unwelcome, you can ensure your customer receives the best experience when you stop working with them. The smoothness with which this happens can make the difference between a future referral and making your company one to avoid. Again, make sure your information systems are up-to-date so you can personalize this – and gather relevant information to decrease the chances of it with future customers.
Finance processes are the backbone of every company. Aside from enabling you to keep the rest of your business running, they are required to comply with the regulations in your country. Businesses have to complete tax declarations and file end of year accounts, and comprehensive processes for these activities means that you reduce the risk of non-compliance.
The majority of finance operations related activity happens on a recurring basis, such as month end billing or end of year reporting. Once you’ve defined what needs to happen (even if only one step), in beSlick you can automate the scheduling of this activity and be sure that nothing gets missed.
How you calculate and monitor your company’s budget is of the utmost importance. A process to ensure that expenditure is kept in line and that the budget is being tracked over the financial year will reassure you that your business is operating within its means.
This process describes how to compile the end of financial year accounts and annual returns. Although the exact procedure will vary from country to country, a robust process will ensure that information is submitted accurately and on time.
Setting up a process for running the payroll, whether it’s at monthly, fortnightly or even weekly intervals will mean that nothing is forgotten. Ensure that all relevant additions and deductions are made, and that any unique circumstances are taken into account.
This process relates to the UK taxation laws, but having an equivalent procedure for the tax system in your country is vital. Businesses benefit from reductions in tax so a process for preparing and submitting paperwork will mean you recoup the money owed to you.
Having an easy to use method of managing purchase requests, with the necessary audit trail and approvals, can be critical to effective cash management. It ensures things aren’t purchased when they shouldn’t have been, but also that urgent parts aren’t delayed due to confusion on how something can be achieved.
Your business wouldn’t be able to run without its most important asset: its employees. Keeping your staff safe and happy should be one of your company’s top priorities. It’s not just about improving their workflows, it’s about the experience in the company as a whole. That’s why it’s no surprise that this section includes the largest number of processes every business needs. Note that although the below templates are largely tailored to UK employment law, the principles will apply more widely.
Disciplinary & grievance (UK)
There are four main processes relating to the disciplinary and grievance procedures: responding to a formal grievance, disciplinary investigation, disciplinary hearing and disciplinary appeal. There are multiple decision points in these processes, and it’s important to have clear expectations at every point.
Although these processes are (hopefully) likely to be used infrequently, it’s important that you comply with the employment law when they are needed. Any business process modeling you do needs to take this into account.
Employee leave (UK)
As well as a clear process for how employees request holiday and notify employers of the need for sick leave, there is also parental leave to consider. Having processes in place for when employees request maternity or paternity leave will help manage the transition period. State-of-the-art software can make this easier – for instance, by automatically checking requested dates against a global calendar and informing HR of how many staff are away. Try this Absence Request form based template that anyone in your business can use if you’re relying on emails currently.
Businesses often underestimate how important their employee onboarding process is to the retention and ongoing success of their staff. A comprehensive onboarding process will reassure employees they’ve joined a company that cares about supporting its staff.
Similar to how a customer offboarding process can encourage positive reviews and referrals, a smooth employee offboarding process will make sure nothing is forgotten and will leave your former team members with a good impression of your company.
A request from an employee for regular flexible or remote working is a right for certain employees under UK employment law. Human resources are responsible for handling their request in the correct way. This may be an ongoing process, as you may make it reliant on fulfilling certain metrics, so it’s important not to treat this as a one-off event.
Performance and appraisal
Transparent processes for performance reviews and appraisals help your employees understand what they need to be successful in their role. Letting them know what metrics are being monitored and what their managers are documenting can help them respond appropriately.In addition, effective processes should clarify what constitutes performance that needs to be improved upon.
Recruitment is the main HR process that interacts with people that are not yet employed members of staff. As such, it’s even more important to have a process that ensures fairness and transparency when it comes to decision-making. If candidates are aware of the process up front, they will be more likely to have a positive experience with your recruitment team.
If you need a fast and easy way to improve job application handling and systemize your candidate screening process, use this digital job application form and candidate screening template which combines the two.
While every business hopes to never have to use a redundancy process, if it is needed it’s one that has strict rules around how it is enacted. Depending on the employment law in the country in which you operate, redundancies may be subject to a number of reviews and may involve external parties to help ensure it is compliant.
Operational processes cover everything in a business relating to its day to day running. The operations department enables other teams to do what they do best, while improving the overall functionality of the company behind the scenes. Its key responsibilities are process review, continuous improvement, and how the business creates and adapts its strategy.
It’s vital that the operations department understands the BPM methodology, as they’re mostly responsible for any business process re-engineering that will go on. Without this, companies will struggle to analyze, monitor, and streamline processes.
Instigating and developing partnerships with other businesses in similar or complementing sectors can be a key way to grow your business. Ensure that you make the most of these connections by following a process designed to keep your partners and stakeholders in the loop and thinking of you first whenever a relevant opportunity arises.
A process loses its worth as soon as it stops being reviewed and updated. Regular policy reviews not only mean that errors are reduced and that your business stays compliant, but that you can actively look for places where improvements and efficiencies can be made. This is key to a successful business process improvement strategy.
Every business needs tools or software to run on. Documenting how you manage procurement or a tendering process will mean that you take all factors into consideration to achieve the right outcome for your business.
Your business strategy is the way you make decisions over what to do (and what not to do), and shapes the overall direction of the company. It’s important to understand your core business goals, to review your targets at regular intervals, and to have a clear process for setting and defining these targets.
Sales & Marketing
Often overlooked, the sales and marketing processes in your business are what will attract and persuade leads to become your customers. Once you’ve found strategies that work, it’s time for standardization. You want to make sure your activities are carried out the same way every time by following your processes.
Especially in a crowded industry, it’s key to keep an eye on your competitors. Having a process you can refer to that allows you to conduct a thorough competitor analysis will allow you to spot opportunities for differentiated positioning and offerings.
The ways in which you acquire customers will be unique to your business. The strategies may be common, but what makes your business successful is the knowledge and expertise you have built up in this process. Your team members should know exactly how you do digital marketing, how you do a sales call or how you approach events. Having a documented customer acquisition process is essential.
Whatever your industry, you will need to promote your company to potential customers. This could be through events, mentions in the press or more traditional advertising. However you do it, putting together an optimized process will make sure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities. If you’re outsourcing any aspects of this, make sure you have a process in place to check in with the third party.
A common strategy to capture and nurture your leads before they purchase from you, a process for compiling a newsletter is a good thing to have. Your newsletter should reflect your business and the image you want to send out. Don’t be afraid to add some information about what your company’s been up to behind the scenes – people love the personal detail.
Whether this is a digital advertising campaign or one centred around print materials, there are commonalities between each campaign you carry out. The aim or desired result needs to be decided up front, as well as criteria such as the budget and the audience. Having clear metrics that you can track is key to monitoring the success of your campaigns.
A business website is the modern day shop window. Ensuring it is kept up to date and that it accurately reflects your target audience is an ongoing job. You don’t want any bottlenecks where the entire content and sales team are waiting for a single web developer to update everything! Make sure your process for updating your website avoids these potential problems.
Running a business and keeping all the plates spinning is by no means easy. But simply having a list of the 27 processes that every business needs is the first step in ensuring you’re on top of everything. The next step is to make these processes truly work for your business or public sector organisation by customising them to suit your needs and circumstances.
If you need a hand getting started, let us help. Using this process framework we’ll work with you to document the processes you don’t have, and help you get them running in your business.
You can find out more about our implementation services here.
Alister Esam, Author of The Dirty Word and CEO at beSlick
Alister Esam is a successful entrepreneur and investor, having bootstrapped his fintech software business eShare to international status operating in over 40 countries and servicing 20,000 board directors, before successfully exiting to a multibillion-dollar organisation in 2018. He now invests in a variety of startups and on a global mission to make work, work.