What are Business Processes, Why are they Important, and How can Spreadsheets Help?

Let’s start with what a business process is, here is the dictionary definition. A series of logically related activities or tasks (such as planning, production, or sales) performed together to produce a defined set of results. Every action that you take while achieving the goal of your business, is part of your business process. Have you actually thought of what your business process is? What are the actions that you take from the start of a job to completion? Most people don’t actually think about their processes, they just do what they have always done. The longer you have a business, the more chance there is that you get stuck into a ‘process rut’, but this is not necessarily bad. The longer you have been in business, the more chance you have established what the best process is. You see processes are often formulated by actually doing the work. This way you are able to iron out any issues, and really make sure that your process is what it should be. The problem is that people often get stuck into a process which is not the best way, they then refuse to change because ‘this is the way that they have always done it’.

So now that we know what a business process is, why is it so important? It defines everything that you do. Once you have a process, chances are that you will follow this process in all of your future jobs. If you employ any staff, they can immediately follow the process in order to achieve the desired results. A business process adds structure, it maps out your actions for each job. If you don’t follow a process, it leaves you susceptible to mistakes, as you don’t have a set path to follow. So it turns out that business processes are quite important, and we all have them whether we know it or not. Don’t you think that it is time that you determine yours if you haven’t already? We all need to know what our processes are, and have them defined, so we can make sure that we are following them.

So how can a spreadsheet help? I have been in project management for most of my career, and I have used spreadsheets to manage the processes with amazing results. There is so much software out there promising to help you do just about anything that you want. Does it fit your processes, or are you compromising on your processes in order to use the software? This is the problem, it is made for many users, and this makes you merely a number. If you want custom made software, it is very expensive, well out of reach of most SMEs. Spreadsheets are versatile, and many people use them. I track all of my jobs using an Excel spreadsheet that I have created. By capturing the data as I go along, the spreadsheet tracks all aspects of the job, just as I require. My quotes and invoices are even automatically generated based on the data that I enter in the job card. All in a spreadsheet. It doesn’t look like a spreadsheet though, it looks like software. Excel can do so much more than just store rows of data.

Now you may be thinking that this is all great, but you are not able to get the same results from a spreadsheet that I can. That is why I now create custom spreadsheets for a living. My experience and Excel skills, combined with your business process knowledge, could result in a custom made spreadsheet which could enforce, monitor and analyse your processes. Just as you require. If you would like more information, or if you would just like to take a look at what we can offer, please take a look at my website using the menu.

Thanks very much, all the best defining your processes.

Richard Sumner

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