All about business process design

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  • Agile and project planning
  • Strategic planning

Every business uses business processes. If you intend to do anything from opening a cash register to being publicly traded, there is really no way around it. 

And the most successful businesses take a long look at the process with which they engage and break them down into steps that can be optimized. After all, each process consists of many different steps and can involve multiple teams, so it’s important to understand each intricacy. Without scrutinizing your design processes, you’ll run into bottlenecks, miscommunication, and bloat.

In this article, we’ll look hard at business processes and how to analyze them to make your entire business run more efficiently. 

What is a business process?

Say you’ve decided to put your business on social media. Without examining what actually goes into growing a successful social media presence, you wouldn’t know that you need to make a social media calendar, assign a copywriter, prioritize competitive research, stay on top of social media trends, etc. That’s quite the process, and you may not have foreseen there was so much involved, which means you wouldn’t have been prepared for it.

At its simplest definition, a business process is the steps or tasks that go into completing a specific goal. Business process steps can be categorized into:

  1. Inputs: What’s required to initiate the business process 

  2. Activities: The steps needed to accomplish the goal

  3. Outputs: What results from the above steps

  4. Roles: Who’s responsible for what

  5. Controls and guidelines: Any rules or regulations that need to be followed

  6. KPIs: How success is measured

Each business utilizes three types of business processes: operational (supply chain management, human resources, customer relations, etc), supporting (administrative, IT, facilities management, procurement), and management (organizational planning, resource allocation, decision-making). 

So, what is business process design? Business process design creates, analyzes, and optimizes business processes to achieve your business's goals and objectives. This design involves defining the structure, steps, inputs, outputs, roles, and responsibilities of a process as described above to ensure efficiency and alignment with business objectives.

Why process design is important

Think how disastrous it would be to reorder the steps of baking a cake—if baking happens before the ingredients are measured, the cake just isn’t happening. And yet some businesses try to do just that. 

Business process design arranges tasks in their correct order while focusing on efficiency, quality, and cost reduction. It unlocks adaptability and innovation while also ensuring that the entire process aligns strategically with the organization’s goals. Process design is essential for optimizing organizational performance, enhancing competitiveness, and achieving sustainable growth. Essentially, it allows an organization to excel. 

Implicit processes vs. structured processes

There’s a sweet spot with business process design: You want to provide structure but allow for creativity. Process design addresses these needs with implicit processes (flexible, ad-hoc) and structured processes (formal, standardized). Implicit processes can be beneficial in situations where innovation is valued. However, implicit processes can also lead to inconsistency, inefficiency, and lack of accountability. Structured processes promote efficiency, quality, and accountability but might limit creativity. You’ll need to choose which type to implement for each process after looking at your org culture, requirements, and the type of tasks involved.

Benefits of business process design

You could let your business figure things out without ever considering the processes involved. But business process design has some serious advantages:

Creates a shared understanding of the overall business strategy

Business process design ensures alignment between organizational objectives, strategies, and operations. By designing processes that support strategic goals and priorities, your business can focus its resources and efforts on activities that drive value and contribute to long-term success.

Facilitates organizational alignment

When everyone knows exactly what steps are involved in each process, everyone is in the loop with what’s happening. There’s alignment on what needs to happen next and less fussing over the details. 

Improves communication

The design itself can identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, allowing businesses to address communication gaps. It can also include feedback loops and mechanisms for gathering input to enable continuous improvement.

Standardizes business tasks

Business process design standardizes business tasks by providing clear procedures for completing them. There’s little doubt about what to do. This standardization promotes consistency, efficiency, and quality in task execution, which lets organizations achieve their objectives more effectively.

Facilitates seamless integration with other systems

Organizations can ensure compatibility and interoperability between different systems by defining common data structures and communication protocols. Interoperability is a giant benefit of business process design.

The best way to design a business process

By now, you should be aboard the business process design train. So, how do you take the journey? 

  1. Outline the scope of the process: What exactly are you doing? Define the objectives of the process and identify key stakeholders who will be involved or affected by it. 

  2. Pinpoint inputs and outputs: Identify the resources, information, and materials (inputs) required to initiate and execute a process, as well as the results or outcomes (outputs) produced by completing the process. 

  3. Determine roles and responsibilities: Who’s in charge of what? 

  4. Map the process: Use process mapping techniques such as flowcharts or swimlane diagrams to visualize the sequence of activities, decision points, and interactions involved in the process. We can help with this, of course.

  5. Digitize and automate: Identify opportunities to automate repetitive tasks, integrate systems, and improve data exchange to enhance efficiency and accuracy.

  6. Document and communicate: Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) and documentation for the redesigned process. Clearly define each step, specify roles and responsibilities, and outline guidelines for executing the process. Then share it all. 

  7. Monitor process performance: Establish performance metrics and monitoring mechanisms to track the effectiveness of the redesigned process. Use KPIs to measure progress, identify areas for further improvement, and make adjustments as needed.

Business process tips and best practices

Before you set out on your business design process adventure, we’ve got some tips for you.

Add value for the customer

Keep this at the forefront of everything. It’s nice if a change improves internal practices, but the customer should also benefit.

Reduce handoff delays

If your process seems to be getting bogged down, look at the holdups here first. How can you make these smoother? 

Use business process standardization 

Rely on the same templates each time to standardize and reinforce that standardization to get faster and more efficient over time.

Incorporate compliance rules

Making teams part of the design process at the beginning increases buy-in. Incorporating them from the start reduces revisions. 

Business process design tools

By analyzing, refining, and optimizing workflows, business process design lets your business unlock efficiency and improve innovation. This single implementation can empower teams to work smarter by streamlining operations, reducing waste, and maximizing resource utilization. Plus, delineating who’s in charge of what keeps everyone in the loop and clarifies tasks. Business process design lets your business thrive no matter how the market changes.

Lucid makes your business process design a cinch.

Learn how

About Lucidspark

Lucidspark, a cloud-based virtual whiteboard, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This cutting-edge digital canvas brings teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and consolidate collective thinking into actionable next steps—all in real time. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit

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