Creating and implementing efficient and effective business processes is a significant undertaking and a huge achievement. Unfortunately, it’s only half the battle. Once processes are in place, it’s important to monitor them carefully to ensure they’re working as they should and make adjustments as necessary when business operations or customer needs change.
While it’s tempting to treat processes as “set it and forget it” initiatives and turn your attention to other matters, letting key business processes run unchecked for too long can allow errors and inefficiencies to turn into thorny problems with long-term consequences.
Of course, each process your business has in play was created carefully with efficiency, accuracy, and longevity in mind. But as we’ve all experienced in business and life, it doesn’t take much for even the best laid plans to fall apart. Here are five ways consistent monitoring keeps those plans on track.
1. Identifying Bugs before They Become Problems
Perhaps the latest software update introduced a glitch or a data point was entered incorrectly. These start out as minor issues but, if they’re not resolved quickly, they have an ugly tendency to snowball, causing more and more issues until you’re left with a snafu that will require money, and human resources to untangle. Suddenly, all the efficiencies your processes achieve have come undone, with ramifications ranging from lost revenue to lapsed regulatory compliance to angry customers.
But consistent monitoring — keeping tabs on every step of the process — will likely result in catching that software bug or mistyped data point right away, fixing it quickly before it causes lasting problems.
2. Finding and Eliminating Bottlenecks
While every process is designed to flow smoothly from end to end, you’re likely to find sticking points once it’s up and running. Are approvals piling up on an overextended teammate’s desk? Are payments getting “stuck” and requiring manual interventions? Or are batch file processing jobs failing unexpectedly or taking longer than expected?
These bottlenecks are often difficult to predict, and that’s where monitoring comes in. Without clear visibility into how processes are functioning in real life — and not just on paper — these sticking points can lead to major delays in time-sensitive activities. But with business process monitoring systems in place, it’s easy to notice and resolve pileup points before the system becomes overwhelmed.
3. Fixing Inefficiencies
Maybe not right away, but certainly over time, monitoring business processes will unearth potential adjustments make them even more efficient. Perhaps there are redundancies built in, or multiple steps that could be combined into one or completed by one person instead of three. Or maybe there are manual activities and tasks — like start-of-day checks or payment reconciliations — that could be automated to save time and redirect manpower to more important work. While hidden inefficiencies in a process may not be catastrophic, they are missed opportunities to save time and, potentially, costs by optimizing and streamlining key front- and back-office processes.
4. Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
Many of these monitoring efforts are, ultimately, in service of creating a better customer experience. Whether front or back-office processes, their accuracy and efficiency will impact the customer journey and users’ perception of the business. Consistent process monitoring prevents back-office errors from making their way into products and services or customer communications. It helps the sales team close deals and the finance team produce accurate invoices and collect payments easily. And, above all, it ensures one-time buyers have the kind of experience that turns them into lifelong customers.
5. Tracking Business Performance
Process monitoring isn’t just about technical issues, though those are certainly critical. It’s also about ensuring the desired business outcomes are achieved. If a process is bug-free, hyper efficient, and technically flawless, but it’s not improving business performance, then that’s a sure sign it needs adjustments. But recognizing this requires consistent monitoring, measuring results against predetermined success metrics and quantifiable outcome goals. Living by the “set it and forget it method,” assuming that because the process was defined with the end goal in mind, it’s working as anticipated, is likely to lead to some tough surprises down the road. But with effective monitoring, it’s much easier to spot lackluster performance, make the adjustments necessary, and reap the rewards of a seamless business process.
This post is part one of a two-part series. Now that you see why business process monitoring is critical, read part two to learn more about how to implement effective monitoring practices.
Conducive Consulting has been helping customers use Splunk to monitor and streamline business processes — and so much more — through data analysis visualization since 2006. Contact us today to learn how we can help your organization make the most of its data.