Understanding the What, Why, How, and When of Business Process Analysis Tools

Business Process Analysis Tools

The first step in any process improvement initiative is process analysis. A thorough analysis of the process provides the main impetus to create a process improvement plan. Business process analysis tools play a crucial role in business process analysis. Various business process analysis tools and techniques can be used to locate the troublesome parts of the process, drill down to the pain points, and lay the foundation for a better and streamlined process design.

What is the need for process analysis tools?

What are the must-have features of these tools?

Read on to find answers to these questions and the top 5 business process analysis tools for 2023.

Table of Contents

What is Business Process Analysis?

Business process analysis (BPA) is a way to assess the state of various business activities to boost their effectiveness. BPA is part of business process management (BPM), which is a specialized technique to assess whether current processes are performing at optimal levels and achieving their objectives.

BPM focuses on the analysis, improvement, measurement, and monitoring of business processes. All the subsequent steps in BPM are dependent on the first step – process analysis. 

What are business process analysis tools?

These tools are primarily intended to help business users document, analyze, and streamline complex processes. Incorporating business analysis tools improve productivity, increases quality, and makes businesses more agile and effective.

Process analysis tools also support the roles of business architects and business process analysts, enabling them to understand business processes, events, workflows, and data using proven modeling techniques. 

Various BPA tools are used for analyzing business processes. Cost reductions, increased revenue, and better business involvement are expected outcomes of BPA. For example, business process analysis software can be used to examine consumer involvement and areas with downturns, blocks, or very low conversion rates. Examining and analyzing as is business processes and policies can also show what factors contribute to poor employee engagement. 

Business process analysis and design is an approach to examining business operating processes. It is a rigorous and multi-phase analysis of every step in the process tools that helps understand current scenarios and identify the scope for improvement. saves a lot of time for teams by identifying issues in the workflows. With the right process analysis tools, teams need not waste time and effort on solving incorrect problems or switching from one software program to another. 

Business process analysis can be approached in several ways, but the fundamental belief remains that better procedures lead to better overall business results. Enterprise business process analysis tools can be used to spot problematic aspects of an operation and figure out solutions. Business process analysis and business analysis are often confused to be the same.

The former is focused on studying business processes and providing enhancement recommendations based on information gathered during analysis. The latter is focused on identifying specific organizational needs and issues that are not directly related to procedures but include research, recruiting, and budget cuts. 

Business process analysis provides clear and deep insights to process owners, which helps them make informed decisions about the appropriate “as-is process”. Business process analysis is required when one or more of the following situations are encountered by the business –

  • Unknown problems like persistent delays or a sharp rise in customer complaints occur
  • Need to ensure that the process is optimized before automation
  • Process stakeholders are unsure about how to carry out tasks
  • The process team wants to switch over to a new process
  • You are struggling to meet your side of a Service level agreement
  • You fail to meet regulatory requirements and standards
  • Either employee are overwhelmed with work or their capabilities are underutilized

BPA tools permit users to map their processes and rules or specifications to promote a better understanding of workflow. This information can be validated using standard methodologies and best practices enabled by business analysis software tools. BPA tools bring the following functionality to process analysis –

  • Business modeling and development
  • Ease of use in operation, development, and administration
  • Business model analysis
  • Integration and automation
  • Multiuser support, versioning, and extensibility
  • Business methodology and use
  • Performance and scalability
  • Vertical-industry and horizontal cross-industry template support

How is Business Process Analysis Conducted?

A business process must comprise these components – the goal, the steps, the tools, and the people. 

Goal – what is the process trying to accomplish?

Steps – What has to happen and in what order for the goal to be achieved? 

Tools – what systems are required to conduct these steps? 

People – who in your team is responsible for each step?

Business process analysis is a structured evaluation that provides clear and complete answers to all of the above questions. Business process analysis is the first step in the broader Business Process Optimization and business process improvement initiatives. BPA is not helpful only when things go awry, it can also reveal processes that function well and how these processes can be replicated across business processes. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in business process analysis, you need to tailor it according to the particular process you are analyzing. However, there are some common steps that most BPA projects follow –

Identify the process for analysis – to derive the maximum benefit out of the BPA exercise, we have to choose a process with a high degree of business value and a low degree of business complexity. The lesser the complexity of the process, the easier it is to document it. 

Identify the stakeholders – business process analysis requires broad participation that involves process owners, staff, clients, and external partners. Putting together a list of stakeholders and inviting them to commit fully to your BPA project ensures a better chance at success. 

Determine the inputs/outputs at each stage of the process – Data or materials are required as inputs at every stage of the process. Similarly, outputs are also in the form of data or materials. The output from a process is usually more uniform, while inputs are variable. You need to identify all the inputs and outputs at each stage of the process. 

Observe and record the process – close observation of the process generates the data required for analysis. Record quantifiable metrics like time spent on each action and input costs, and make a note of every instance of handoffs from one particular point to the other. Start documenting the happy path of the process where everything goes as is analysis planned. Study and analyze the exception paths as well, as they are most likely to disrupt the process flow. At all times during the analysis, remain objective.

Interview process stakeholders – interview participants and owners where they identify bottlenecks. Stakeholder opinions are a powerful data source for process analysis. 

Create a process map – once all the process data is gathered, the next step is to document it in the form of a process map. The process map must include – steps, inputs and outputs, participants at each step, common exception scenarios, and other details about the process. 

Analyze the process – with all the data gathered and mapped, you are set to analyze the process. It is important to maintain a quantifiable approach to process analysis. Focus analysis on spotting bottlenecks, repetition, redundancy, errors, deviations, and any other stakeholder issue while analyzing the process. 

Documentation tools and process mapping tools are the most commonly used process analysis tools

Types of Business Process Analysis

There are several types of business process analysis methods to choose from depending on the requirements of the business. Choosing enterprise business process analysis tools depends on the type of analysis that needs to be performed on the process. Irrespective of the type of business process analysis techniques you’ll be using, the main activities that you will engage in are: 

Identifying the process for analysis 

Gathering complete information on the process

Analyzing the “as-is” process

Developing the improved “to-be” process

The following process analysis methods are popularly used to perform enterprise process analysis.

1. GAP analysis

this analysis method helps identify the gap between the performance you are getting, and the performance you want to achieve. The key concepts at play for GAP analysis are: 

  • Your performance is where your results are now
  • The potential is where you want to be
  • Gap is created by what is keeping you from reaching your potential
  • Gap closure requires action to overcome roadblocks and improve

This type of analysis is the simplest form of process analysis but provides you with effective ways to reconnect with your goals and re-orient the focus of your performance. The best way to evaluate process gaps is to look at the relationship between the 4 business components. For example, examining the input-output relationship may reveal redundancy, wasteful activities, repetitive steps, and poor task timing. 

Also examining the role of guides and enablers in the rest of the process may reveal the traits that limit productivity. Guides may reveal inconsistent steps, undocumented tasks, unintended knowledge gatekeeping, and overregulated tasks. Troublesome enablers may reveal poor workspace setups, inefficient use of equipment, or absence of tech tools required for effective performance. GAP analysis provides high-level visibility into your throttled productivity. Although this technique takes time to be implemented and to produce tangible results, the insights revealed by the analysis provide significant ROI. 

2. Value-added Analysis

this type of analysis weighs and labels whether business needs are met by each process step. This technique acts as a broad sorting lens for activities that help teams cut or reduce the non-essentials. Steps that add value to the business must be completed to meet a need of either the customer or the business itself. The following activities must be performed as part of the value-added analysis –

  • Real-value-added steps – help meet an expectation or need of the customer 
  • Business value-added steps – help meet an expectation or need of the business
  • Non-value added steps – steps that do not meet customer or business needs, or meet needs that can be fulfilled even when these steps are removed

Assessing the value requires digging deep into the core of “why” each activity exists. Carefully question all activities within the phases of a process lifecycle. The value-added analysis is effective in providing an objective view of process workflow. 

3. Root cause analysis

this type of analysis specializes in finding the root cause of process issues. This technique is extremely useful in tracing relationships between effects and their many possible causes. The issues that seem simple or obvious may actually have deeper and more serious root causes. Root cause analysis drills down to the not-so-obvious causes of issues within the process. This analysis is an ideal path for going beyond assumptions about your problems. The subjects investigated in root cause analysis include – 

  • People – or human stakeholders that include staff and supervisors 
  • Guides – like references, logs, and schedules
  • Materials – includes consumables like paper supplies, pens, ink toner etc
  • Methods – like payment processing, request routing, etc
  • Equipment – like physical machines, devices, and other maintainable tools
  • Environment – like onsite or offsite spaces that house and support the process

The root cause analysis is an invaluable tool that ensures that process revisions are reliable on the first run. This type of analysis is extremely useful in companies that have recurring issues and a history of attempted quick fixes. 

4. Observational analysis

observation analysis provides a real-time, first-hand view of the process in motion. The main intent of the observational analysis is to gather process information, which reveals overlooked or undervalued steps in the process. This analysis also helps spot any activity that is absent, despite being documented or implied as an active part of the process. Observers in the process analysis may operate under one of the two modes:

Passive observers avoid interacting to keep the process natural and unaffected

Active observers who jump in with questions and may participate in the process for real-time insights

Regardless of the method, observational analysis introduces the analyst as a foreign presence that may unnaturally shape the process. Setting clear expectations at the beginning itself keeps the process free from distortion. 

5. Experience examination analysis

this analysis captures the process knowledge of longtime employees to unpack the lessons learned by expert staff. Experience-based knowledge usually goes, undocumented and is not discussed often in the organization. Undocumented knowledge usually results in the “why” behind these activities not being recorded through observation. Targeting veteran employees helps teams to find out –

  • The trigger for high-level productivity in the process
  • The drivers behind faulty activity within the process

Organizations that have retained seasoned staff that have good experience in business processes can leverage experience analysis to get durable results and retain exclusive knowledge on processes even after experts leave the company. 

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Types of BPA Tools

Irrespective of the type of process analysis methods you use, process analysis tools help get to the root cause of inefficiencies within the process.

Here are some of the commonly used process analysis tools used by businesses:

Fishbone diagram

This is a cause-and-effect diagram that looks at a particular problem and works backwards to see what is causing it. The fishbone diagram resembles a fishbone, where the problem is depicted at the mouth of the fish. This process analysis tool can be used to pinpoint the different aspects that need improvement. This tool helps figure out the improvement method that is suitable for different components of workflow management

Whys analysis

This is a type of root cause analysis that focuses on deploying a process improvement method for solving a problem without actually fixing the root cause. Using this tool, you need to repeatedly ask yourself 5 why’s repeatedly. 

Force field analysis

This type of tool looks into factors that help and hinder the process. This style of analysis is extremely useful when you need to decide on the type of process improvement you need to implement.

Pareto chart

The Pareto chart follows a brainstorming session with the project team. The main aim of this tool is to show the impact of different inefficiencies. The working principle of this tool is that 80% of the problems come from 20% of inefficiencies. 

Workflow analysis software

One of the quickest ways to pinpoint inefficiencies is to track KPI data using business process analysis tools. When you digitize workflows, you can easily track their performance and identify common areas where the process is lagging. 

Top 5 Business Process Analysis Tools for 2023

There are several business process analysis software that you can choose from. After a thorough analysis of the “as-is” process is completed, the right business process analysis tool is chosen. We have put together a list of the top 5 business process analysis tools for your business to choose from –

1. Cflow

This no-code workflow automation platform is powered by BPM techniques that help in process analysis and improvement. The reports and analytics feature in Cflow provide real-time analysis of the process workflow. Users and top management gets deeper visibility into process flow and bottlenecks with Cflow.

The process analytics feature in Cflow is based on its reporting feature. Users can create custom reports around any item in the workflow, and stay updated on the status of any field that is important to them. You can also get comprehensive drill-down reports on specific steps in the process and also examine all the tasks assigned to particular users. 

2. Appian

This is ranked as the best process analysis tool for high-end low-code BPM processing. It provides a lot of tools to create and automate processes and other types of apps.

3. Kissflow

This is the easiest BPM product in the market to get into. The App Metrics Report created shows how well a particular process has functioned over a given period. 

4. Pega

This is another high-end low-code solution that provides a variety of report formats, including, line, bar, pie graphs, and many more. 

5. ProcessMaker

ProcessMaker provides custom dash lets to create unique reporting metrics for the process. This software is the best alternative when businesses are looking for a business process analysis tool for business growth. 

Conclusion

Most businesses consider business process analysis tools only after having processes in place or only when issues arise in processes. BPA tools must be involved right from the start when processes are created. Business process analysis software ensures that all possible scenarios are accounted for while designing the process. Cflow is a powerful workflow automation tool that provides robust process analysis and reporting capabilities. To explore process analysis features of Cflow, sign up for the free trial today.

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