Since Mäd’s formation in 2016, we’ve undergone significant changes in our brand and the services we offer.
From conception, our main focus was supporting clients in the areas of branding and design, with projects ranging from UX/UI design and app and website development to corporate identity design and rebranding. At the time, Mäd identified itself as a creative digital agency specializing in human-centered design.
In the past couple of years, though, we’ve taken some serious steps away from just branding and design. Mäd now offers a diverse range of consulting services, providing advice to our clients in various strategic areas, such as change management and business process improvement.
It’s not uncommon for people to get confused when buzzwords like “consulting” and “process analysis” come up, so in this insight, we approach the subject of consulting and expand on how we conduct business process analyses. You’ll find out exactly how we work: the steps we take when getting to know a client and how we audit their business through process analysis, finding ways to help them improve.
The first thing to start with before diving into the technical stuff of the consulting process is: what exactly is a consultancy, and what do they do?
A consultancy is a professional service firm that provides advice to businesses and organizations. The industries that a consultancy serves can vary, and its offerings can include anything from advising on strategy and operations to providing sales and marketing insights, HR services, or supporting companies in their digital transformation efforts (one of Mäd’s areas of expertise).
Companies work with consulting services to improve their performance in certain areas instead of hiring specialists or entire departments. If they do have an in-house team, consultants can still support them in areas that are lacking.
Essentially, consultancies provide guidance on strategic decisions —- for some businesses, this could be the question of what new products or services to launch, and when and how to do so. Consulting firms specializing in operations, for instance, may support a business in streamlining its supply chains to bring a new product to the market.
Well-defined processes are what drive organizations and keep them running efficiently. So when done well, process analyses can lead to increased revenue, more streamlined business operations, and significant growth.
On the other hand, inefficient business processes (and inadequate analyses) can result in missed deadlines and financial losses.
But identifying bottlenecks within a process and finding where it can be improved can be challenging, which is where companies can often benefit from the expertise of an external consultancy.
Processes are repeatable procedures or workflows that serve a certain purpose in business operations. Consultants may analyze business processes to help organizations improve their efficiency and profitability, and, by understanding the inner workings of a business — how it operates, which processes it excels in, and where inefficiencies exist, — help businesses make changes that result in major performance improvements.
Process analysis is a critical part of a company’s success as it can help identify key pain points and areas for improvement by diving into the way different tasks within a process are being executed.
More broadly, process analysis can be used in the following areas:
New issues can easily occur as a company expands, changes direction, hires new people, or introduces new tools and technologies. So it’s important that all aspects of the various processes and procedures are robust enough to support the growth and evolution of the company.
In doing so, consulting firms use a variety of tools and techniques, including process mapping, process analysis, and process improvement.
Business process analysis (BPA) involves evaluating each process and finding ways to improve it in alignment with the business’s overall long-term objectives.
So let’s get straight to the point: what are the steps of process analysis?
Start by identifying what kinds of processes exist, and what purposes they serve (and you may find that some processes are essentially useless!).
Some guiding questions for this stage could be, are the processes aligned with the larger goals of the business? Do they connect to its mission and vision?
This will also help you determine how the processes fit into the larger objectives of the business, as well as the different departments and teams within the organization.
Before you can analyze the processes, you need to find out how each process is executed: what are its inputs, outputs, and resources? Not just the physical assets, but also financial, human, and time resources.
This can be done by interviewing employees involved in each process, as well as relevant stakeholders. You may also need to review the available data, like statistics and KPI metrics, and measure the process against them.
Having done the data collection, you can now compile all the gathered information about
This data will aid you in the preliminary step for process analysis — process mapping. This involves visually depicting (mapping out) the sequence of steps in which a process is executed. It should show the process in a clear and logical manner and can be as simple as sketching a basic flowchart. Process mapping is particularly helpful in identifying obstacles and patterns.
With a process map, patterns and gaps in the business processes will start to surface. These will then be the focus areas of improvement.
This is also where you can brainstorm how to eliminate redundancies and wasteful steps, finding ways to save time and resources on certain processes.
The final step is implementing changes to improve existing processes or create new ones. This is called business process improvement (BPI), which follows BPA and involves making changes to the way a process is designed, implemented, and monitored.
Whether you’re strategizing BPI for your organization or for a client (as a consultant), this is where you should develop an action plan tailored to the specific needs of the company that will help to achieve the desired results.
Some examples of BPA, as outlined by IBM, could be:
By and large, our process analysis work follows the best practices identified above. However, an essential component of this at Mäd is ensuring we ask the right questions. We find that working backward from the ideal endpoint is key: in other words, what is the picture of perfect for the particular process in question?
To do this effectively, we like to get everyone in a room and collaborate with our clients, asking why certain things are done in certain ways, what enables them to happen, and how they are relevant to the goals of the business and its clients.
Here are some examples of the questions that we might ask when evaluating a process:
After opening up these discussions, we can then identify the points of contact between the organization and its customers, as well as the pain points for both customers and the business. This is important; at Mäd, we encourage clients to be more customer-focused, whether it’s through improving their processes or communication, or by embracing human-centered design for their products or services.
This acquired data enables us to create an outline for the ideal process — that is, what would the process look like if there were no budget, time, or workforce limitations?
At this stage, we also need to consider long-term, overarching goals, and how to align the process with these objectives. This will help translate the ideal vision of the process into a realistic and actionable step-by-step plan.
Finally, we can begin guiding the client through their new thought and work process. This is where we “consult” them to help determine how they can grow and improve further through the newly implemented changes.
Consulting can be critical to a company’s success.
Offering diverse perspectives, consultancies help businesses improve their products and services by providing advice on strategy and operations. Often, this requires consultants to review their clients’ internal operation flows by evaluating the processes they follow through business process analysis (BPA). This approach helps locate problem areas and opportunities for growth and improvement while reducing operational inefficiencies.
As a company evolves, assessing and fine-tuning business processes becomes a continuous task. BPA simplifies this by giving both a broad overview and a deep dive into processes, revealing their deficiencies and opportunities.
At Mäd, we implement BPA whenever we begin projects with new clients. This is an essential step because, without the knowledge of how things are done within the company, it’s impossible to know where the strengths and weaknesses of their processes lie.
Ultimately, BPA acts as a discovery guide that enables business leaders and consultants to examine the ins and outs of existing business processes and find ways to make changes for greater efficiency and profitability.