What do you do if you don’t have the time or know-how to document and improve your processes?
You hire a business process consultant of course!
While we’ve talked endlessly in the past about why processes are important and how to manage your own, hiring a business process consultant lets you reap all the benefits without having to spend an age assessing your organization and talking to every last employee involved.
So, if you want to organize your processes and bring efficiency to your business but don’t have time to do it yourself, read on!
What is a business process consultant?
A business process consultant is someone you can hire to help document and format your workflows into repeatable systems and processes. They may also advise you on how to improve your processes, help get your business process management (BPM) program running smoothly, and so on.
This usually involves coming into your organization (either onsite or through digital meetings) and getting to know how your tasks are currently performed. By speaking to managers and regular employees they can start to build up an accurate picture of what your workflows look like, rather than an idealized process that isn’t actually followed.
They can then report back to you and detail what your operations look like in practice, where there are holes in your processes, and how to plug them.
We’ve talked at length before about just how important processes are to continued success. Having a set method to follow and give to your employees (new or old) helps to make sure that fewer mistakes happen and all operations are performed as efficiently as possible.
With documented processes you and your team have a set of instructions to follow for every task, letting your tasks be performed in a consistent manner and without anyone having to stop and think about what to do next.
However, the details of documenting and improving your processes can be incredibly complex, especially if your tasks vary wildly depending on the finer details involved. That’s where business process consultant’s shine.
Why should you use a business process consultant?
Business process consultants can be a massive benefit to any team, whether they already have documented processes or not. While there’s a key benefit that I’ll need to explain in a little more detail, they mainly help to:
- Document workflows and processes accurately
- Make your business more efficient and consistent
- Give an accurate picture of your current operations
- Display gaps in your current processes
- See where the easiest improvements to make are
- See redundant processes that can be eliminated
- Note processes that are better starting from scratch with business process reengineering
- Find tasks that can be automated with process automation
No matter what process you’re looking at, there’s one key aspect which can mean the difference between successfully performing the task and ending up with a jumbled mess of sub-par results; the person performing it. More specifically, their motivation.
While it’s nice to think that everyone in your team understands what they need to do and why it’s important to do it in a particular way, the truth isn’t so clear-cut. If they don’t see the value in a task (or they don’t care about what it will achieve) they will skip steps in your process or create shortcuts that then become standard practice.
The worst part is that you will have no idea that this is happening, and so when something goes wrong, you won’t have an accurate view of your operation to make a proper diagnosis.
That’s just one of the reasons why hiring a business process consultant is a must for anyone looking to make a serious effort at consistently hitting their targets.
By speaking to your team and working with everyone to accurately document and improve your processes, they help to make everyone feel a little bit of ownership over the final product. In turn, this will encourage them to follow the process accurately and even promote its correct use to the rest of the team should they become lax.
How to find a good consultant
So, you want to hire a business process consultant (BPC). Great! Now you just need to know how to find one that will help to make your company be the best it can be.
Unfortunately, you can’t just browse the yellow pages and call the fanciest result. Even getting recommendations through your network won’t necessarily work, as you want to be sure that the person or firm you hire is suitable for your specific operation.
To help solve that issue, here are a few tips you can use to assess the BPCs you’re considering.
Use their track record
One of the more obvious things you can do is to check the track record of the consultant or firm to see how successful they’ve been, what kind of clients they’ve served, and how satisfied those clients were. This should give you a good basis to judge whether they will be compatible with both your team and processes.
Having said that, their experience shouldn’t have to be with clients in the same industry with you, as that isn’t the most important factor. Your team are the ones that are experienced in your niche, and while it’s useful if your consultant at least has a grounding in the field it’s not difficult to get your team to convey the basic principles.
Instead, check both that they are good at working with a team and are experienced with the same kinds of processes as the ones you run.
Teamwork is vital to any successful BPC, as it will let them see an accurate picture of your current processes and get your employees onside and motivated to keep up the new process.
Meanwhile, them having experience with the kinds of processes you use will let them apply their knowledge to whatever your industry calls for. Whether you use processes with a high volume and low variance (eg, creating standardized products), vice versa, or a combination, the BPC must understand and have experience with the gritty details of these processes in action to understand how best to set them out for your team.
Check their flexibility
Speaking of knowing what’s best for your team, a consultant with utter faith that a specific model will be applicable to any situation should ring some alarm bells. They need to be flexible in order to recommend the best possible solution to your situation, not blindly pushing Six Sigma or Lean practices.
There is no one-size-fits-all model for processes. Anyone who says otherwise will fall flat on their face sooner or later.
Instead, those who voice concerns with the effects of a particular model or the general scope of the project are likely to be more experienced with the complex details of your operation than those with the utmost confidence.
Caution shows experience in this case, and the last thing you want is someone trying to bend your company to fit a specific process model, rather than the other way around.
Confidence itself isn’t a bad thing. Blind faith in a process or operational model is.
Make sure they can communicate
I’ve already mentioned how important teamwork is, so it’s absolutely essential that you try to judge the consultant’s communication skills before hiring them. They need to be able to both win over and sell your team on the new processes after all.
If your team isn’t convinced of why things need to change then they won’t stick to your freshly documented and improved processes long enough for them to become routine. Thus the BPC’s negotiation skills need to be top-notch.
They should be confident in their methods, but open to hearing what anyone and everyone have to say (not just your managers). If they’re able to build a rapport with your team then they’re halfway to getting them on board and giving genuine feedback.
Not only that but if there are any teething problems with implementing the new process your employees will be more likely to voice their concerns. They should know that the business process consultant will listen and take on board what they have to say, as otherwise they will either lapse into old habits or create new workarounds without letting anyone else know about it.
One of the main reasons you employ a BPC is to make sure you know exactly how everything is being achieved, so why bother creating a new process if your employees create shortcuts and don’t let you know about it?
Know that cost isn’t everything
You get what you pay for – it’s cliched but true.
When hiring a business process consultant you can’t aim for the lowest wage per hour if you want to have quality work done. Plus, a higher paid consultant may well complete the operation faster than a lower paid one, thus closing the overall gap in terms of final pay.
Either way, it’s not going to be cheap. Overhauling your processes isn’t something that can be done in a few hours.
It’ll probably take closer to a few weeks to get to know the finer details of your operation, build a rapport with your team, document your processes, then suggest improvements. Plus, all of this has to be done while convincing your employees why these changes are necessary and how it will benefit them.
Because of these factors, there isn’t a set wage for hiring a good BPC, and most will work on an hourly rate instead of a fixed price. If you can get a fixed estimate then that’s always useful, but you should expect to pay a similar hourly rate to a high-end IT consultant.
Rather than asking whether the consultant is cheap, you should be asking whether the price will bring a worthwhile investment. To help judge that, you can always ask the consultant you’re thinking of employing for a summary of what they think will be the return on the investment.
After all these questions are settled, you can proceed with your consulting services agreement that will help you be ensured you are both protected in case any issues arise.
Some services to get you started
Since it can be a little difficult to get started with finding a good business process consultant (or firm), here’s a few suggestions to get started.
Here at Process Street, we have a customer success team who will work with you to build out and improve your processes if you’re on our paid plan. By requesting a free demo you can work with us to see how we can help you before ever paying a cent.
Our team has experience consulting on a huge range of processes from different industries and formats, including manufacturing, education, fitness, government, and much, much more. For a little proof, check out our case studies of companies currently using Process Street:
- How iQ Food Co Use Process Street to Manage Their Operations
- How Hatch Canada Uses Process Street to Handle its Growth
- How Wodify Uses Process Street to Onboard Employees and Manage Customer Success
Not only that, but we’ll also get you up and running with the best process documentation software available – Process Street.
With this, you can document your workflows and processes step-by-step as tasks in a template. You can then run checklists from these templates to assign to your team, track your progress, give instructions for each task with supporting images and videos, and record information in form fields as you work through each step.
If you’re not ready to reach out and book a demo quite yet or want to have a stab at managing your processes yourself, we also have some free ebooks you can use to tighten up your operation. One is even dedicated to showing process consultants how to make the most out of Process Street, so you can learn all of the important tips and tricks in your own time.
- The Ultimate Guide to Business Process Automation with Zapier
- The Consultant’s Guide to Process Street
- The Complete Guide to Business Process Management
- Get More Done: The Complete Introduction to Task Management
But why stop there?
We’ve also taken the time to document some common processes which you can import into your Process Street organization for free. These are completely free to get and are ready to use straight away, but you’re welcome to edit them to your own needs should they need to be a little more specific.
- 6 Checklists to Perfect your New Employee Onboarding Process
- 4 Checklists to Perfect Your Client Onboarding Process
- 7 Fully-Documented Marketing Processes You Can Outsource to a Virtual Assistant
- 9 Checklists to Drive Your Sales Processes
- 12 IT Processes to Solve Your Computer Woes
- 7 Construction Templates to Improve Processes, Standards, and Client Relations
- 8 Free Real Estate Checklists to Maximize Your Profits
- 12 Inspection Checklists to Maximize Safety in the Workplace
- HR Templates: The Perfect Pack For Company Success
The Process Consultant
Aside from writing extensively on the topic, Ian James (the mind behind The Process Consultant) provides consulting services for companies who want to straighten out their processes and make sure that their operation is running as efficiently as possible.
Ian works onsite with companies, taking the time to work individually with team members to create an accurate view of the processes behind their tasks while keeping group meetings to a minimum in order to avoid wasting time.
You can get in touch with Ian by taking a look at this contact information page.
The Hackett Group
The Hackett Group are a business consulting firm who have helped nearly 3,500 companies during their operation, including 3/4 of the Fortune 100 and DAX 30. With experience consulting on finance, procurement, IT, and more, The Hackett Group are a solid choice for anyone looking for a consulting firm with a solid, proven pedigree.
Running since 2007, Appnovation is yet another solid choice for anyone looking to get some help with sorting out their processes. Whether you’re looking to develop, implement, integrate or just solidly document your organization’s workflows, Appnovation has a proven track record with clients such as Infowrap and Visit California, and partners including GitHub and MuleSoft.
Our final recommendation is Paradigm, who focus both on creating and managing your business processes through solid documentation and a program of continuous improvement. They won’t just help you to realize what your operations currently look like – they’ll help you set up a program with which you can continually improve and perfect your processes.
It’s time to document, manage, and improve your business processes
No matter what option you choose, hiring a good business process consultant is never a bad shout. Sure, there are times when your budget is too tight and you may instead want to consider looking into your processes personally, but having an expert examine and spell out exactly what your processes look like is enlightening.
Not the mention that having documented processes in general can stop human error becoming a problem, show you where your tasks can be automated or improved to save time and money, and (in extreme cases) stop a nuclear Third World War.
Are you (or have you hired) a business process consultant? What techniques would you recommend for assessing who’s right to use for your company? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!