As an operations manager at an asset management firm, you have lots of tools at your disposal for improving how your firm operates. But today, I want to focus specifically on business process redesign: what it is, how you can get started, and why you should make it part of your routine.

What is business process redesign?

Simply put, business process redesign is all about taking a critical look at processes in your firm and identifying areas for improvements. That might involve eliminating duplication, removing unnecessary steps, changing who’s involved or increasing automation—or some combination therein. Whatever you find and whatever solutions you choose will be unique to your organization.

How do I start?

The first step is to document your firm’s existing processes. You need to understand each step in the process: who is involved, when they are involved, and why they do things the way they do. I recommend actually sitting down and documenting processes as they unfold, rather than relying on people’s perceptions of what goes on. Once might not be enough.

It’s important to get a sense of how accurate your documentation is—that is, how frequently exceptions occur and how they are treated. Even if your organization has process guides in place, you’ll want to review them to make sure that what appears on paper is what’s happening in practice.

What will I find?

Most business process redesign gains are in the form of efficiency improvements or risk reductions. On the efficiency side, you might discover opportunities to combine or eliminate duplicated steps, introduce automation or new technologies, or minimize hand-offs that cause delays.

On the risk reduction front, you might find that your organization’s existing controls are no longer effective. The key is understanding why. There may be opportunities to standardize ownership of specific tasks, reduce manual actions or encourage users to make better use of existing systems.

Why bother with business process redesign?

What’s great about business process redesign is that it’s never done—and that’s a good thing! Processes will evolve over time in response to both internal and external factors, including staff turnover and new technologies. Each iteration creates room for improvement. That’s why I encourage operations managers to make process reviews a regular event.

Many of the improvements identified will be tactical in nature, and relatively simple and inexpensive to implement—“quick wins” that require minimal effort. For that reason, the benefit of individual business process improvements may seem insignificant. Don’t be fooled. Their collective impact over time can be huge.

For more on the subject, read “Recommended Practices to Business Process Redesign

If you think your organization could benefit from business process redesign, but you’re not sure where to start, email me directly.