Do business processes add value to customers?

Opinion is divided on whether processes are useful or killer of creativity.

There are many opinions and schools of thought around processes. Some business leaders feel they are a waste of time and hinder creativity as well as the agility and speed of execution.Others firmly assert that processes provide business effectiveness and standardisation.

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When you are a company that is in the early stages of inception with a handful of repeat customers, it is very easy to get away with minimal processes. Indeed, this may to some extent provide a competitive edge in enabling you to execute faster than other larger companies.However, over time as business transactions become more complex, processes are more of an enabler and ensure that the correct standard of service is applied to all customers. What actually hinders businesses from growth is redundant processes that do not add any value to the overall quality of the output. Some of the key advantages of well-defined and value adding processes include:There is seamless execution and less time is wasted on debates around the execution approach.Assuming that all employees involved in a particular process are well trained, there is a seamless flow of work that takes place and the end delivery provided from one client to another is more or less of equal value and quality regardless of the different individuals who may have had input.

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Productivity is achieved due to more clarity on the execution, which means new hires learn faster and can be productive much earlier than their counterparts who join companies that do not have defined processes.Contrary to common belief, defined processes also spur innovation given that there is a framework of how things should be done.One is able to think of ways to speed up execution and make it even more efficient. An opportunity to satisfy a client’s business need that is currently not a key area of focus could even arise out of this.The danger of not having processes, especially as a business expands is the fact that clients will receive different service levels depending on the individual serving them.This can lead to confusion and disgruntled customers who will demand the same quality of delivery each time they have an interaction with your organisation.Worse still, if your star performers are providing stellar service and their colleagues are not, it may lead to many clients who have experienced your star performers’ delivery insisting to be served only by these particular individuals.This will only make things more complex by having your top performers overworked if you agree to your clients’ demands.The beauty of having processes in place is not only will you increase the chances of a fairly standardised customer experience regardless of who is serving them, but you will also free up time for strategic thinking which will spur innovation and establishment of leading practices.Also, processes will provide you with the advantage of seamlessly scaling your business, while making the necessary tweaks depending on the specific product, industry or geography.A business without processes is a business that is being run like the wild wild west. While this may seem very attractive and give you a picture of spontaneous innovation and experimentation, the reality is that such a business is also highly prone to wastage and even more so to fraud.It is easier to steal in an environment of chaos and stealing can come in two forms — one is outright theft through deceit and forgery, and the other is by employees not delivering while hiding behind the lack of accountability that absence of processes provide.It is very easy for a political smooth talker to do nothing day in day out and continue growing and getting promoted within the organisation if there are no systems in place that drive accountability.That said, it is important to remember that humans developed processes and that you are not a prisoner of your processes.It does not make sense to maintain or follow a redundant process.You have the power to do away with, amend and improve processes to suit your current situation, keeping in mind that your ultimate goal would be to maximise client satisfaction.

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