Posted in Workflow Automation

What Is a Standardized Process? And Using it to Boost Productivity and Quality

In large companies, it’s common for teams to develop their own ways of doing things. A single process — like billing or accounting — might happen in a dozen different ways.

In a best-case scenario, this only leads to confusion when teams have to collaborate. In the worst case, untidy process management can also lead to issues like double-billing, lost deliverables, delays, poor work quality, and more.

Without a reliable system for managing mission-critical business processes, your company isn’t running efficiently.

That’s where process standardization comes in. It can help you break down and document processes so that there’s no friction between teams, and you can cross-assign tasks without issue.

In this article, we’ll cover what a standardized process is, its benefits, and how you can easily standardize and even automate processes using frevvo’s automation software.

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What Is a Standardized Business Process?

A standardized business process is a clearly defined and documented process that remains the same throughout the entire company, regardless of department or team.

It might sound easy in theory — just write it down — but in practice, setting up standardized processes throughout your organization is a challenging task.

  • You need to document all existing processes and compare them across teams.
  • You must establish standards that are robust enough to withstand key employees leaving.
  • You need buy-in from everyone involved.
  • You have to bake standardization into the company culture.

These challenges lead to a reality where most companies leave it to individual teams and managers to control their own processes. In some areas, this is fine. 

But when it comes to security, billing, accounting, and other crucial business functions, the cost of potential mixups is too great.

Let’s dive into why process standardization is a must for any business, even an SMB.

Why Standardized Processes Are Important to Business Success

Standardized business processes help you limit risk and improve efficiency by reducing variables. Standardization can have a wide-reaching impact and improve your bottom line.

Reduce Costs and Improve Productivity

69% of executives focus on business processes to improve productivity and reduce costs. As those are the main goals of any manager or executive, that’s not a surprise.

The main reasons for executives to optimize business processes

But you might not realize the damage that unchecked processes can do to your overall productivity. Teams in many companies often have different operating modes, which can lead to all sorts of confusion, double-bookings, and delays.

And if your onboarding workflow is to have new staff learn “how things work around here,” it can take weeks or even months before they’re productive.

With well-documented processes, there’s no confusion between teams, and new employees can start contributing meaningful work from day one.

Reduce the Risk of Costly Human Errors

In our new digital world, a single slip of a finger or poorly thought out password can cost companies big. The average cost of a data breach caused by human errors was $3.3 million in 2020.

As work is increasingly digitized, more and more employees have access to sensitive data and software that can break processes or lead to serious problems if leaked.

Standardized processes are a must for maintaining the security of your company’s and your client’s data. Company-wide rules on two-factor authentication are a good example.

Stop Losing Crucial Work Knowledge Alongside Employees

70% of executives agree that it takes time and money to replace employees with unique work knowledge when they leave.

If you don’t have protocols in place, a single employee will often end up responsible for a business-critical process without documenting how others could handle it. Creating a standardized offboarding process can help you avoid just that.

You can start interviewing resigning employees and creating process documents to smooth over the hand-off process.

Any work you do standardizing processes while they’re working there will also help reduce knowledge loss.

Delivery a High Quality of Work Consistently

By removing the discrepancy between teams and employees, you can eliminate any tendencies toward lower quality work and reduce bugs/flaws in finished products.

For example, an average developer just writing code produces between 15–50 bugs per 1,000 lines of code.

It’s only through a rigorous testing process that your team as a whole can bring that number down and deliver software that works. And it’s the same for other industries as well.

If you have no standard checks in place, you risk sending out defective products to your customers and running customer relationships.

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What Is an Example of Business Process Standardization? 

An example of standardizing a business process is how many telemarketing companies write a complete script for their sales associates to follow along.

The telemarketing industry wouldn’t exist without process standardization. Why? It has record-high turnover, with large call centers losing over 44% of employees to attrition each year.

Plus, new hires may have absolutely no idea how to sell products over the phone.

Standardization is what keeps everything going smoothly. Telemarketing companies often have a standard workflow that covers everything from who to call, what to say on the phone, how to respond to objections, and more.

And while it isn’t as visible in other industries, it can be just as useful for your business. A good place to start is with business process modeling, where you visually outline every stage in a process. 

You can, for example, use the process mapping method from Six Sigma.

Process mapping example from Six Sigma

That’s what a simplified process map for making sales calls might look like.

Be careful not to overlook any potential stages and dilemmas a worker might have. Every uncovered question is a potential bottleneck.

This type of modeling is a key part of any process improvement plan, but it’s only the first step. The best way to make a company-wide impact is to use a dedicated software solution.

How to Kickstart Standardization with Process Management Software

70% of companies use software tools to help them optimize their processes and experience benefits like reduced complexity, increased collaboration, and improved internal and external process interactions.

Chart of BPM software benefits

Business process management software makes it easy to standardize processes and helps ensure your employees follow protocol.

Let’s walk through how you can use software to standardize processes.

1. Create and Reuse Workflow Templates Throughout Your Company

With frevvo, you can use and edit our catalog of 40+ workflow templates for a variety of business processes.

You can also create your own custom templates, save them, and reuse them throughout your company.

Creating a new workflow in frevvo

For example, you can set up approval workflows with multiple steps and conditions that ensure high-quality work every time.

When setting up conditions and business rules, it’s important to consider every possibility. Remember the process modeling exercise from earlier, and dedicate the same level of detail to every workflow. 

Every set of rules will directly impact how your employees do their job, so don’t dial it in. This is the modern equivalent of a 100-page standard operating procedure document.

2. Manage Interactive Processes with Custom Forms and Review Protocols

Dynamic forms with custom requirements can also help you manage your workflow.

With these forms, you minimize mundane human errors like forgetting to fill in a required field or using the wrong format for an address.

frevvo’s drag-and-drop dynamic form builder goes way beyond basic rules. You can even connect the form output with automated approval workflows.

frevvo's drag-and-drop form designer

3. Generate Official Forms From Digital Data with a PDF Mapper

You can even use a PDF mapper to generate custom forms like a Federal or State W-4 or any internal documents you may have.

These forms make onboarding smooth and painless if the job requires handling a lot of lengthy official documents.

frevvo’s PDF mapper features a simple drag-and-drop interface that makes it surprisingly easy to use. You can use it for official federal or state documents or internal documentation without issue.

4. Get a New Level of Visibility of All Processes with Real-Time Tracking

It’s not easy to stay on top of everything going on in your business at any given time — especially in an increasingly remote work environment.

If you’re investing in software, you want a dashboard with metrics that show how your team members perform in real-time.

frevvo lets you build a custom dashboard to highlight your key performance metrics. Any major stakeholder in a process, like a VP of finance, can create a live view that gives them the data points they need.

Graphic of real-time BPM analytics

With our robust API, you can also include crucial data points from your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. 

5. Gradually Work At and Improve Your Processes

With access to real-time data and templated workflows, business process management (BPM) is a lot easier.

But a core tenet of any process improvement methodology is continual improvement. It’s not just about automation and smart solutions but about changing the culture in your organization.

You can map out processes as much as you want, but if your employees don’t follow your rules, it won’t impact your business results.

By finding a methodology that everyone agrees with and setting goals everybody can work toward, you get better cohesion between employees and teams. A company works best when everyone’s pulling in the same direction.

Beyond Standardization: Automate Menial Tasks and Workflows 

Consistent quality comes from a robust and efficient process that overcomes the human tendency to err. But software doesn’t just help you structure your workflows — it can also help you automate significant chunks of them.

The average office worker spends over three hours a day on easily automatable tasks. That’s almost half of an average working day.

Average office hours wasted on menial tasks

Now, some of these are complex tasks that might require an expensive custom-coded solution. But a lot are simple tasks hidden throughout various stages of a process — like notifying a superior or transferring data from one platform to another.

Workflow automation lets you automate these menial tasks, speeding up the overall process and eliminating delays from forgetfulness or human error.

It also lets every employee focus on their own workload with fewer interruptions. It’s easier to get work done when you can jump straight from one task to the next without worrying about the next stage in the process.

Start Putting Process Standardization Into Practice Today

Many process improvement efforts are high-level and theoretical, like 50-page docs on the company’s philosophy of excellence and why each employee should place every screw with abject care.

They have their place, but a more practical application of process standardization will serve most companies better.

Try mapping out your existing processes, figuring out how you can do them better, and then recreating them in BPM software. 

With frevvo, you get drag-and-drop form builders, smart business rules, automation, PDF mappers, and more to help your employees get their jobs done. With robust workflows, you can eliminate the risk of mistakes and faulty products.

You can create an environment where new employees can start their job feeling confident, even if it’s their first time doing the work. Want to see what it can do for your company? Give frevvo a try with a 30-day free trial.

Sign up for a free 30-day trial of our software.

Author:

Ashish Deshpande has worked in the process automation space for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in successfully deploying frevvo’s software at hundreds of organizations such as HBO, New York University, and Boston Public Schools. Ashish has contributed to leading publications such as Forbes, business.com and readwrite.com. Ashish received a PhD in Computer Science from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India.