Businesses run on processes. Whether it is an operational, management, or supporting process, a particular sequence of activities needs to be carried out to achieve desired goals. This makes business process mapping a powerful tool for businesses as it visually represents the steps that need to be followed from start to end for any process to be undertaken as required. It puts all stakeholders in the business in the know about processes to allow for proper functioning.
It is the role of a business process analyst to study business processes with the aim of reengineering, streamlining, or automating them to achieve efficiency in business. In other words, they should know how to conduct process mapping. If unchecked, too many business processes end up being inefficient, slow, and unnecessarily complex.
Who is a business process analyst?
A business process analyst (BPA) also sometimes known as a business systems analyst or a business intelligence analyst is a specialty role under business analysis that involves conducting audits on existing business processes to improve them or model new processes with the aim of achieving efficiency in business operations. BPAs analyze and think through processes while gathering process-related information to draw insight that will help align them with business objectives and tackle process-related issues in the organization. This is especially crucial when changes, new policies, or procedures have been introduced in the organization.
What are the roles of a business process analyst?
BPAs have the overall responsibility of maintaining and improving business processes. They perform process organization-wide process assessments, come up with business requirements, and then use process software to create models that once implemented can easily be implemented and analyzed by the organization.
Other roles of the business process analyst are:
- They act as the liaison between the organization’s decision-makers, IT department, and the management to evaluate business performance, evaluate the current state of business processes to identify inefficiencies, and create new process designs
- They manage the implementation of changes in existing business process designs
- They assess employee needs and internal workflows to come up with business requirements for new processes
- They guide business process analysis and process reengineering projects
- They document process models for future reference using Flowchart Notation and Business Process Management Notation
- They facilitate decision-making among stakeholders regarding process recommendations and new process designs
- They gather feedback on the performance of processes to help collect information that will guide process improvement in future
- Assess the impact of new and improved processes on business operations, people, and overall business performance.
Steps to Conducting Business Process Analysis
With ever-evolving technology, even the most efficient business processes become inefficient and even obsolete over time. This it is important to analyze processes regularly to improve them.
Here is a step-by-step guide to conducting business process analysis.
- Identify the business process that needs to be analyzed
First, it is important to define the process that requires improvement. Mostly, a BPA will select processes based on specific business goals and the value that the processes add to the delivery of products/services. Next, the processes are prioritized, and then process analysis is performed on them in order of priority.
- Gather necessary process-based information
The best source of process information is the people that directly use the processes daily as they are in the best position to point out the flaws in the processes with regard to business goals. Information gathering can be done through brainstorming sessions, meetings, or other channels like surveys, interviews, or questionnaires.
It is also important to observe the process being carried out end-to-end to have a clear picture of what the process entails.
- Carry out process mapping
A process map is a visual representation of the flow of work in a process. The key elements of a process map include all the process activities and their relationships, process input/output, people involved, process timelines, and decision points. Standard symbols are used to map out a process which makes it possible to visualize it clearly.
- Analyze the process
The main aim of process analysis is to identify flaws in the process and determine ways of addressing the flaws. Flaws in a process can be in the form of delays, complexity, unnecessary activities, poor organization, unclear deliverables, and lack of transparency.
The information gathered together with the process map are great resources for conducting process analysis. A BPA can employ such process analysis techniques as error proofing, observation, root cause analysis, and value-added analysis to analyze a process.
- Design a process improvement plan
Up to this point, the BPA has defined and analyzed the process as-is (current state). Subsequent to the analysis is determining possible improvement actions in line with the business goals. With this, the BPA can now formulate and test a To-Be process improvement plan.
- Implement the new process and monitor its effectiveness
Once the To-Be plan has been formulated, it can be implemented and the old process phased out. This requires communication and in some cases training the people involved with the processes to ensure a smooth transition.
Process monitoring should follow implementation to assess the effect of the new process on business operations, time, and people who regularly use the process. Monitoring unearths issues and opportunities for further process improvement.
Top Business Process Analyst Skills
A business process analyst should possess the following skills:
- Technical skills like cloud computing, analysis, and familiarity with various business process analysis tools
- Researching skills
- Interpersonal skills like collaboration, leadership, active listening, problem-solving, and liaison skills
- Communication skills including both spoken and written communication ability
Qualifications of a business process analyst role
A bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or business analysis is an added advantage. In addition, business process analysts typically have a strong IT background specifically in process management as well as 2-7 years of experience related to business operations or software development.
Credentials like Business Analyst certifications like Certified Business Analysis Profesional (CBAP) and the Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA) will go a long way to build the skills and knowledge around process mapping and reengineering that are required for this role.
Business process analysis is a continuous event as businesses continuously need improvements in their processes for their operations to remain efficient and competitive. This makes the BPA role in the business necessary through business operations or during the introduction of new system applications. Business process analysis presents worthy benefits to the business including identifying flaws and opportunities for improvement in business processes, formulating effective solutions for flaws in business processes, preventing unplanned downtime and productivity losses that come with them, as well as minimizing unnecessary IT costs.