workers in a factory


How to identify the hidden processes in your business

What is a process, how do you identify processes in your business and – most importantly – how do you make it flow? Studies show that companies with strong processes increase their profit sixfold compared to companies without defined processes. This guide looks at work to see where your hidden processes are.

Perhaps you know the frustration when you make the same mistakes over and over again in your company? Perhaps you need a better overview of how work flows in your business? Whatever the root cause there are many reasons to get started working with your processes.

This is Gluu’s guide on how to get processes integrated in your business based on seven years of helping companies worldwide getting success with their business processes.

Step 1: What is a business process?

A lot of people get confused when defining a process and how it differs from a project. So let’s start with the international definition: A business process is “a chain of documented activities that are being repeated by different employees”.

But wait a minute! A project is also a chain of activities that are being repeated by different people. So what is the difference?

According to the Project Management Institute, a project is “a unique business activity with a unique output”. So a project only happens once.

Many companies perform the same tasks repeatedly but handle them as if they were unique projects. Thus, they miss a lot of advantages. Most tasks contain elements that you can bring into the next task. In this way, your work gets significantly more effective and gets done faster if you treat a task as a process instead of as a project.

As Edward Deming, one of the founding fathers of the industry’s productivity and competitiveness the last 50-60 years, put it:

“If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, then you don’t know what you’re doing.”

So let’s get a grip on what we are doing.

Step 2: Where are the processes?

OK, so a process is a chain of documented articles that are being repeated by different employees and happening more than once. But where to find the processes in your company?

One of the places many companies typically already have a documented process is the ‘Sales funnel’. The purpose of the sales funnel is to make potential customers active through a structured and documented procedure. The reason for the thorough documentation and process description is the vitality for the companies’ survival. But if the sales funnel is so well-functioning why not disseminate the process work to other work areas?

Broadly speaking, you can divide your work into the following boxes:

  • Ad hoc work, which are tasks that every employee does differently every time they are performed.
  • Projects, wherein work is managed within a clear setting. Afterward, you evaluate whether the results can be integrated into the running of your company.
  • Processes, that consist of chains of repeated, well-documented activities wherein the employees know their roles and responsibility.
  • Automation and outsourcing, consisting of mature and steady processes that the company knows and which can be outsourced or automatised.

Like the sales funnel constrict the journey for new potential customers, the process work can be illustrated in a funnel as here:

sales funnel

Step 3: How do you identify the processes?

To find the processes you have to ask yourself and your colleagues the following questions:

  1. Is the task occurring rarely, and are there no repeated elements in it?
    • Then it is ad hoc. 
  2. Is the task unique and will not be repeated?
    • Then it is a project.
  3. Is the task being repeated consistently?
    • Then it is an activity that needs to be documented. 
  4. Is the task involving more colleagues?
    • Then it is a process – a chain of activities executed by different roles.

Step 4: What to do once you identify the processes

Once you found the important processes in your company, they should be described. It is important that the processes are being documented as they happen in reality.

To keep the overview put the processes into a system when the work descriptions are done.

And this is where Gluu comes into the picture. By making use of a process mapping tool like Gluu it gets way easier for every employee to describe, understand, execute, and improve every process and task – with proper control at an overall level.

The advantages of strong processes are many. You get faster onboarding, fewer risks when employees quit, more time to develop (through less ad hoc work), fewer errors, and better compliance when it comes to GDPR and safety.

The sooner you start working with your processes, the sooner you will experience the advantages. If you need help along the way or if you want to know more about the process mapping tool Gluu, contact us today