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Business Process Analysis for Small Businesses

written by: Mary Rajotte•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 7/29/2010

Managing one’s business requires a dedicated system to analyze and improve work flow. The software, worksheets and free tools discussed below can help to improve productivity and profitability through business process analysis for small businesses.

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    What is Business Process Analysis?

    A business process analysis for small businesses involves a series of steps an organizations undertakes to achieve any given goal. By pinpointing areas of improvement and revealing one's proficiency levels, Business process analysis for small businesses amount to a strategic method of staying ahead of one’s competitors.

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    What To Analyze

    While small businesses can benefit from analyzing various aspects of their work flow, cost, quality, and speed are often the areas that are most studied.

    Whether organizations are looking for ways to reduce costs (perhaps through a product redesign using lower-priced supplies); improve quality (for locally or environmentally-friendly suppliers); or improve speed (by identify and optimizing processes to do the same - or better - work more quickly), there are many benefits to implementing a Business Process Analysis for small businesses.

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    Different Methods of Analyzation

    The SWOT method

    The SWOT method is often used in business process analysis. For small businesses, SWOT can be used to pinpoint the organization’s areas of strengths, and can also be utilized to discover areas of weakness that need to be rectified.

    SWOT stands for:

    • Strengths: What is currently being done well? What areas perform best in your current business model?
    • Weaknesses - What needs improvement? In what areas of your small business are you performing poorly?
    • Opportunities - Are there any areas of your small business where your competitors are working poorly? What opportunities arise for you there?
    • Threats - In what areas are your competitors performing well? What obstacles arise for your small business as a result?

    The MOST Method

    The MOST method is another way to use business process analysis. For small businesses this technique can be used on a project-by-project basis to make sure they stay on task.

    The attributes of MOST are:

    • Mission: (what the business intends to do)
    • Objectives: (the key goals for your project which will help achieve the mission)
    • Strategies: (how you will deliver your objectives)
    • Tactics: (the action that will deliver on the above statements)

    As you can see, all levels of the MOST model are dependent upon one another. Think of them as building blocks to achieving the ultimate goal of your small business.

    By layering your ideas and methods to achieve them, you strengthen each area by working on each aspect that supports your overall goal.

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    Tools & Resources

    Flow charts make business process analysis easy to understand. There are a variety of free business process mapping tools for small businesses to analyze their work flow.

    Dropmind is mind mapping software that makes it easy to brainstorm ideas. There is a free online version which integrates with Google Docs, Google Contacts and Google Search. Co-workers can collaborate in real-time on the same project, which makes it an excellent resource when adopting business process analysis.

    Inghenia offers a free online tool for business process analysis. Small businesses can easily click and highlight boxes to represent their level of success and then click to see the sum of their strengths & weaknesses and easily see opportunities for improvement.

    Business Balls, a website of learning and development ideas, offers a free downloadable Word template which users can use to measures a business unit, a proposition or idea.

    For ideas on how to work more proficiently and effectively, check out these 3 Free Business Process Mapping Tools.

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    Final Thoughts

    Periodic reviews are the key to staying on top of the strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement for any company. Whether reviewing the finite details of one's company, or looking at the bigger picture through business process analysis, small businesses can strategically improve and grow.