They may sound complicated, but business process templates are actually a quick and easy way that you can add operational efficiency to your company.
Automating business processes has been found to save managers up to 40 percent of their time, because it means they don’t have to spend as much time looking for information that is probably already contained in their electronic content management system, according to Melissa Webster, Program Vice President, Content and Digital Media Technologies at IDC, a market research firm. This also gives companies the opportunity to derive more business value from their existing IT investments.
Getting started with automating workflows and other business processes can be challenging if it’s something you’ve never done before. The advantage of using business process templates is that you don’t need to start from scratch. Instead, someone who already knows how the business process typically works has created the template for you.
If you’ve ever constructed a new document in Microsoft Word, you know that it comes with a variety of templates to choose from, ranging from expense reports to job descriptions. Similarly, business process management software that includes business process templates allows organizations to more easily select processes.
These can include “horizontal” departmental business processes such as accounting, human resources, legal, and information technology (IT), and “vertical,” or industry-specific, business processes in fields such as government, education, financial services, insurance, healthcare, and construction management, according to Webster’s research.
Typically, business process templates are designed by process experts to incorporate best practices in performing these techniques. The templates also often include annotations and samples to help explain to users the purpose of the business process and the best ways in which to perform it.
The template can help streamline operations by specifying how this particular business process works with other methods used by the organization. It also defines the roles and responsibilities of the people involved with the process, describes the type of data that the business process needs, and determines the outcomes that the business process will generate.
But not even an expert can design a business process template that’s perfect for every organization, so software that supports business process template functionality generally lets users customize the template with information specific to their organization.
For example, a business process template in contract management could automate all of the tasks associated with contract filing, metadata management, version management, task assignment and records management within the organization. These duties could also include steps such as review, approval, discussions, and signatures, the completion of which could then lead to new tasks to move the process along. The template can also generate alerts and other notifications based on the information people involved in the process add to it.
Using templates can help teach people how to develop business processes on their own. In the same way that using website templates helps people learn how to use HTML, using business process templates gets people familiar with how they’re developed, so they can create new workflows from scratch by themselves in the future.
Even if the organization doesn’t end up incorporating the template directly into its business processes, staff members can refer to the templates to help them design business procedures on their own. Business process templates help users begin the job of mapping their company processes, including clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the people involved.
Once the business processes get documented, organizations can then use various business process management techniques to help streamline them and add operational efficiency to the company. By documenting the process, organizations can streamline some of their business process management techniques by finding that certain steps can be performed simultaneously, shortening the time required for the process. The organization may also find that some unnecessary steps can be omitted.
Finally, once the business process is created and streamlined, organizations can set up their own business process templates so that different parts of the organization, other companies in the same industry, and other product users can take advantage of their expertise.
Of course, business process templates—and business processes in general—can’t necessarily be applied in every situation. But developing a standard business practice can help an organization more easily, quickly, and efficiently handle everyday situations and reduce inessential tasks that clutter the workday.