Need to Hire an External Business Process Consultant?
Actually you may not need to. We’ve come across a pattern at Skore with our customers that we wanted to share to help others in a similar boat.
Often, one of our clients is looking for help to understand their business processes. Either there’s re-structuring happening at the company, there’s been a business boom and they need to re-organise, the company is trying to find ways to save money, or customer feedback has led them to try to re-evaluate what they’re doing.
Whatever it is, their business processes need to be mapped out and understood. And frequently the person in charge of doing so in the company feels overwhelmed by the task. They opt to look externally and hire a business process consultant instead.
Once they come across our product here at Skore, however, they quickly learn: they never needed to hire an external consultant at all.
What is an External Process Consultant & Why Hire Them
A business process consultant is a specialist in identifying spaces in a business’s processes that can be improved upon. Once they find a step in a process that can be improved, they will create an alternative process and a plan to get your business to adopt that process.
They will demonstrate exceptional skills in communication, analysis, and interpersonal relations. This is because they are the ones that often have to get everyone to agree that a new process is necessary and how to go about changing it.
Process consultants need to communicate with everyone from stakeholders to front-line workers that the process needs to be changed and how to change it. This will frequently ruffle feathers, so without top-notch communication skills, a business process consultant will fail.
They will typically evaluate the following in your business:
- Internal time management: what are you spending too much time on?
- Internal resources’ management: are you spending too much?
- Bottlenecks in the processes: what is slowing things down or complicating things?
- Redundant processes: what is no longer necessary?
- Physical activities that elongate the work process, for example: are you relying too much on driving from warehouse to the shop?
- Ineffective communication: what are the communication channels in use and how to better them?
Within these factors, they find places where time or costs can be cut. This can be anything from changing your sourcing location to finding a job to be redundant, to simply adding a form or automation to an aspect of your business processes.
Such a role is nearly always external.
This means that you are bringing in someone from outside the organisation to offer a fresh pair of eyes on what you’re doing. By bringing them in, you alleviate the need for your employees to take on the task, and you have a fresh pair of eyes to offer fresh ideas.
But bringing in someone external might not always be the answer.
The Problems with Hiring Process Consultants
The first thing to know about hiring an external process consultant is that it will cost you a pretty penny. These are highly skilled individuals with very specific abilities that purportedly make the businesses they serve generous amounts of money. They place a high value on their time and efforts, as they should.
But before you simply pass on your process management and improvement needs to them, it’s worth making sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into.
You will have to be comfortable sharing a lot of information about your business with this individual. Obviously, there will be legal documents that you will need to create and have the consultant sign, both for their contract and fee and for your own protection.
You and your employees will have to be comfortable being scrutinized by an external consultant. While they are all good at communicating with teams to avoid any unnecessary tension, the tension will be felt regardless. After all, the possibility exists that a consultant may find certain processes, and therefore jobs, redundant.
Furthermore, they’ll have to train employees on new methods, and this itself will often cause friction coming from someone unrelated to the business.
This leads us to the crux of the matter.
You’re bringing in someone wholly unfamiliar with your business to help you improve on certain aspects of it. A fresh set of eyes may be well and good for their particular project with you, but what happens when they leave?
They’ve shown you where your existing process could use improvements and created a whole new process for you to follow. Great!
But what about other parts of your business that could use the same boost? What happens the next time you need to improve a process?
Process improvement is a continuous task, so it will not be enough to have someone with the expertise come in and do it for you once. Are you willing to spend on hiring an external consultant each time you need your processes improved, given what they cost?
While consultants are said to do the necessary work quickly to give you the results you’re after faster, you’re losing out on the knowledge and skill required to truly make an impact in your business. If you’re willing to delegate the task to employees in your organisation, they would be just as able to do it, with the right tools at their disposal.
You could end up with an internal process library to refer to going forward to automate and improve your processes, onboard new clients, train your employees, and so on. No more paying an external consultant exorbitant fees to simply map out your processes and find spots to improve when you have the knowledge and skill in your own team.
Alternatives to Hiring an External Process Consultant
The best alternative to hiring an external process business consultant? Taking on the job internally.
Learn how to map processes to learn about your business and find improvement spots internally so that the knowledge is never lost and instead built upon. It means that every time you need to go through it again, you’ve got a documented history of changes you can refer to and everyone can understand.
And the best way to do this?
With the right toolkit, of course.
Of the tools under your belt, your starting point for process improvement should always be Skore.
(Can’t be biased when it’s true!)
With Skore, anyone is able to map out a process from a blank canvas.
Thanks to the use of Universal Process Notation in our software, process improvement has never been easier.
We’ve realized how complicated other mapping methods can be, so when it came to building our own, we focused on simplicity. Everyone involved in the process, from a stakeholder to a front-line worker, should be able to understand what is happening when and who is in charge of what. These three questions are the core of any well-mapped process.
To get a better understanding of what a finished mapping process template looks like, you can head over to our template library. A great starting point is our business on a page template, but we also have more specific templates available, such as the payroll and procure-to-pay processes.
From these templates, you can easily start building your own process library specific to your business and its needs. You will notice that all the information required is easily viewable, and the steps are understood. Should there be a sub-process, it is easy to map as well, and by simply clicking on the step that needs a sub-process you can access it.
But don’t just take our word for it – take a look at our client’s successes by taking it upon themselves to map their own processes:
Carte Blanche Group’s Design Engineer, Stuart Morgan, had this to say about using Skore:
“We really understood through Skore that we could clean up a messy process. It has saved us a huge amount of time by streamlining our flow of activity and understanding that, by resolving issues earlier on in the process, we could make it easier for our people to do their jobs.”
They didn’t look externally but took it upon themselves to understand their existing process, what was wrong with it, and what could be improved. And Skore was the perfect tool for it.
Bovis Homes turned to Skore when it needed to restructure its processes following unprecedented growth. Group Head of Internal Audit and Risk Chris Jones stated:
“Skore has the ability to take complexity away from the resulting diagram while retaining all the necessary detail. It makes it easy to communicate and share standard processes and key control points.”
While bringing in an expert is a good idea when renovating your home, it’s not always necessary. And it’s the same in business.
Provided you have the right tools at your disposal, of course.
At Skore, we created our product with the mindset that anyone can use and understand it for process mapping. Business processes need to be constantly updated and improved upon, and at some point, everyone in your organisation will be affected by them.
Rather than hiring an expensive expert, why not take a crack at it yourself and build the knowledge within your company?
Get in touch with us and we will show you how!