Business Process Analysis

Technology automates processes. If you automate bad processes, you’ll have bad technology.

We talk a lot here at Techcafeteria about ROI (Return on Investment) and aligning technology with the organizational mission and strategy. Deploying strategic technology, like constituent relationship management human capital systems, is not about the tech; it’s about the business processes that the technology will automate and enable. 

Business process mapping visualizes the processes. It starts with diagramming the “current state” processes – the way that you process a donation, onboard an employee, or process a payroll today. Then we revisit those processes and draw “future state” maps, that factor in improvements like:

Bottlenecks: What’s holding up a process? Where do things get stuck?

Redundancies: We have the Supervisor, HR Director, and CEO all signing off on vacation requests. Do we need all three approvals?

Opportunities for automation: Today, the expense report is a paper form. how will we streamline the process when it’s converted to an online form?

The key processes to map are those that are complex and/or cross-department. Cross-department processes often have redundant elements or bottlenecks. The best format for diagramming these processes is a swimlane chart, which identifies the process steps by the person or department performing them.  Here is an example of a swimlane chart mapping out an organizational budget process:

If you are planning on upgrading your financial system or ERP, and incorporating budgeting tools that will eliminate or reduce the number of spreadsheets, Techcafeteria can help you map not only your current process, as above, but the new process, which will look very different. Two great benefits of business process mapping are:

1. You have a visual set of current and future state maps to provide to your implementation partner. This will help them configure the system to align with your specific business requirements.

2. Engaging staff in the process mapping will increase their interest and buy-in into the project.

too many nonprofits assume that new technology improves things just by nature of being new. Technology does what it tells you to, and Techcafeteria can help you determine exactly what the technology should do, insuring success and a healthy return on the investment.

Further Reading

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Techcafeteria’s mission is to help nonprofits use technology to advance their work. We tailor our advice to fit  the mission, strategy, culture, and available resources of our clients.

If you are with a nonprofit or a similar organization working to improve lives, we’d love to hear about your technology challenges and see if we can either help you, or point you in the direction of someone who can. Just fill out this form and you’ll hear back from us.