What is business process analysis? A methodology for improving process

BPA helps organizations dig into vital business and IT processes to find problems and opportunities for improvement.

What is business process analysis? A methodology for improving process
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Business process analysis (BPA) is a methodology that helps organizations deeply examine internal processes to find opportunities for improvement. BPA helps to identify processes that can be made more efficient or effective and to assess whether processes are set up to align with business goals. BPA is a vital subset of business process management (BPM), a larger framework designed for managing processes in the organization. It offers mature organizations a way to “provide governance in a complex organization,” by offering a “common, standardized view of processes,” according to the Association of BPM Professionals (ABPMP).

Business process analysis shouldn’t be confused with business analysis (BA), despite the similar name. BPA is focused specifically on the analysis of business processes and making recommendations for improvement based off data collected during the analysis. BA, on the other hand, is more focused on determining specific needs or problems within the organization that aren’t as closely linked to processes, but might include finances, research, hiring or budget cuts.

Who evaluates business processes?

BPA typically falls on the desk of a business analyst or a process architect. A business analyst can help give context to data surrounding a process and offer in-depth insights based on patterns and trends. A process architect is more involved in processes and are responsible for continually analyzing and improving business processes. According to IBM, the role of a process architect is someone who has the “responsibility to model, analyze, deploy, monitor and continuously improve business processes.” They are a key component in bridging the gap between “business and process-focused technology.”

You will want someone with analytical skills who can dig into data and information gained during analysis to help identify what can be improved and how the process functions within the business. But BPA requires more than just a business analyst or process architect; you will also need the participation of management, IT, and any relevant departments involved in the process to identify and implement process improvements.

5 steps for business process analysis

The following five general steps can help ensure a BPA initiative goes smoothly and produces effective results:

  • Identify your goals and process: Identify what you want to achieve using BPA and establish which process you want to analyze within the business. You will want to set KPIs, benchmarks, goals and other measurement tools to help evaluate whether the changes made are successful in the end.
  • Gather data: Once you have established which process to analyze, your team will need to collect as much information as possible. You’ll want to gather any data, documentation or resources relevant to the process, and interview stakeholders who are familiar with the process and deal with it day-to-day. It’s important to gain as much insight as possible from those close to the process, to help paint a full picture of how it functions within the organization.
  • Map out the process: After gathering information about the process, you should then map it out from start to finish. You can keep it as simple as a piece of paper or a white board, or you can opt to use more sophisticated workflow management software to help you better visualize the process from start to finish.
  • Identify areas for improvement: After everything is mapped out, you will then want to analyze the process and identify any areas for potential improvement. This could mean fixing redundancies, automating certain steps, or changing parts of the workflow. Anything that will make the process flow more efficiently or that will help make it more effective for others in the company should be addressed by this point.
  • Take action and monitor: The last step is to implement the improvements and to monitor the process to ensure the changes were successful and that the updated process meets the goals and KPIs you established during the first step. You shouldn’t just stop here, however; BPA requires continued monitoring and check-ins with your processes. You might find more opportunities to improve a process in the future, so you want to avoid a “set it and forget it” attitude.

Business process analysis tools

BPA software can “provide extensive firepower for modeling and analyzing busines processes,” according to the ABPMP. Some businesses might opt for simpler tools to analyze or map out a process, such as Visio, which also allows you to document a process. But there is a wide range of BPA and BPM tools that offer more sophisticated features designed to help you derive deeper insights from your analysis and allow for better collaboration.  

BPA tools can help your team streamline the analysis process, especially if your organization has a lot of complex processes that span across several departments, resources, or data sources in the organization. With BPA tools, you will easily be able to draw up diagrams, visualize processes, share and save notes between stakeholders, create models, and implement automation features.

Some popular tools for BPA include:

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