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Business Process Management: Understanding and Implementing

If yours is a business with several departments, at one point you start to realize that in order to stay competitive, increase productivity and bring efficiency to your business, you need to optimize and automate some of your business processes. To identify which parts of your business activities are required to be optimized, first you need to have a clear understanding of the processes involved in your particular business.

What is a Business Process?

A business process is a series of specific, measured tasks performed by people and systems and designed to achieve a predetermined outcome. The processes have these important characteristics:

  1. The processes have internal and external users.
  2. They take place across or between organization’s departments or different organizations.
  3. They are based on how work is done in the organization.

The business processes have three key elements – Entity, Object, and Task.

Entities: Where the process occurs.

Objects: The processes are results of handling objects. Objects could be physical or informational.

Tasks: Works done to handle the objects.

The followings are examples of business processes:

Mortgage application processing

Credit verification

Product development

Travel planning

Opening a new account

Answering to a Request for Quote

Shipping a product

Companies are trying to improve their business processes using computer technology starting ever since the computer technology has emerged. Initial emphasize was given to enterprise resource planning. Main areas where automation was adopted were production, accounting, procurement and logistics. The next step was sales and marketing automation. Next came customer relationship management and supplier relationship management. Last couple of years we are seeing implementation of Business Process Management across the board. Companies are adopting BPM in the areas where it could make real differences. Some of these processes involve several departments of the company and some are result of real-time interaction of the company with its suppliers, customers and other business partners.

Interest in BPM is growing really fast, according to a report from Forrester Research, one-third of organizations surveyed by the firm are currently using or piloting BPM, a dramatic increase compared with mid-2002, when just 11% were trying BPM.

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?

BPM automates and streamlines the business processes which are crucial for the organization in order to improve productivity. From hiring a person to processing a purchase order, BPM helps restructuring, controlling and handling workflows involving people and systems to complete a process more efficiently.

To use BPM effectively, companies must focus on the outcome of the process and design workflows based on the expected result from the process. There should not be any difference between a task done by computer systems or people. BPM should be able to map the interaction among the entities, objects and tasks and bring them inline with the process workflow. Business rules used in the process also should be clearly defined. While trying to automate a business process you have to keep in mind that finding a process which should be streamlined is not that difficult! Problem occurs when you try to define which entities are involved and how the evolved method will distribute the previous roles among the new tasks owners.

The benefits of BPM adoption are enormous:

Direct

  • Update processes in real time
  • Reduce overhead expenses
  • Automate key decisions
  • Reduce process maintenance cost
  • Reduce operating cost
  • Improve productivity

Indirect

  • Improve process cycle time
  • Improve forecasting
  • Improve customer service
  • Improve sourcing time cycle

How to figure out which of the business processes you need to automate?

Companies are using BPM systems to automate virtually every aspect of their businesses. A company for example might have priorities to automate their sales activities, requisition process, procurement process, warehousing, call center, etc. However, the focus initially should be given on those areas that meat the following criteria:

  • The business process should be crucial for productivity improvement
  • Savings from automation is clearly visible
  • Return on Investment from implementation is high and preferably immediate

Since your business has unique characteristics which differ from others, you might have business processes that have exceptional business rules. Normally, this type of business processes need maximum attention and substantial resources. Business Process Management tools are great in handling exceptions. Use BPM systems to streamline these processes.

What are BPM Systems?

BPM Systems are applications that help organizations to automate their business processes end to end from a workflow task to process outcome so that they can reduce process costs, improve productivity and bring efficiency to their business.

A successful implementation of BPM systems requires clear understanding of organization’s business processes, business rules, and willingness of the management and workers to embrace new way of doing business.

Your Enterprise Portal can be the BPM platform you need

Your company Portal is the access point for your customers, vendors, business partners and staff to company information and services. A typical company Portal is an integrated website of Intranet, Extranet, Repositories, Procurement and Sales Systems, Customer Relationship Services, etc. Today, advanced Portals are also integrating Business Process Management Systems, which enables automation of workflows that model end-to-end business processes.

In any business process the owners of the process, the users and the objects interact at many levels, such as starting a process, monitoring the process, doing a task, creating new activity, approving a task, etc. In order to reflect the business processes, their progress and interaction with users and owners, a dashboard is used. You can easily integrate any business process into your company Portal and display needed workflows, notifications, charts, performance indicators as a dashboard on it.

Conclusion

Investment in BPM is the same as any other technology related investment. If you plan the project properly, set a clear goal, educate the people those who have to change their mindset once the system is implemented and get necessary support from the management, you can count on a massive return on your investment.

Home Based Business Australia

Having a home based business can bring you a lot of benefits, like never having to drive to work, being your own boss, and setting your own work hours. However, you are still running a business, so you need to follow the laws for having a home based business Australia. One aspect of your home based business Australia at which you need to look closely is your taxes.

When looking at your taxes for your home based business Australia, you should first consider if what you are doing is a hobby or an actual home based business. A home based business Australia is one in which the business is operated at home (most of the business is carried out at the home of the owner) or the business is operated from home (the business does not own or rent the home of the owner). However, what you may think is a home based business Australia may really be a hobby if you do not include what you earn from your activities in your assessable income or you do not claim any deductions for expenses associated with your activities.

If you do find that you are running a home based business Australia, then you should examine the structure of the business to make sure it is the right structure for your home based business Australia. Consider if you are truly running a sole trader, partnership, trust, or company, as your home based business Australia will be taxed differently depending on how your business is structured. You want to make sure you are paying the appropriate type of tax for your home based business Australia. If you are not sure, you should sit down with a tax or small business professional to avoid over or underpaying your taxes for your home based business Australia.

Once you know what type of home based business Australia that you are running, you will also need to register you business. It may be a good idea to discuss your home based business Australia with a professional, as you will need to know what tax obligations you have. There are three basic tax obligations like the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYG), and the Fringe Benefits Tax. You may also need to obtain an Australian Business Number for your home based business Australia.

Should you have a specific type of home based business Australia, you may need to obtain licenses or local approvals to run your home based business Australia. Check with your local or state officials to see what is required for your home based business Australia.

Should you choose to sell or close down your home based business Australia, you will need to contact the Tax Office to make sure that certain tasks are taken care of. For instance, you may need to cancel your ABN and other registrations. You may also need to make adjustments to your GST final activity statement, calculate a capital gain or loss, and even lodge final tax returns.

Read the rest of the article here: Home Based Business Australia.

Insurance for Your Business

The importance of insurance cannot be over-emphasized and neither can the danger of paying for insurance you don’t need. It is strongly recommended you solicit the advice of an in-dependent business insurance agent. Don’t forget to SHOP! Talk to three or four independent agents and compare notes and prices. An insurance agent will lay out a vast array of insurance coverage much of which you simply may not need. Your situation will be unique and you must consider each insurance element carefully to ensure comprehensive coverage.

Whatever your final insurance program looks like, you should review it at least every six months. Your business can change rapidly, especially in the first few years and insurance needs change with it. Keep your program up to date by calling in your agent and reviewing your coverage. Make changes where necessary.

LIABILITY INSURANCE

This is probably the most important element of your insurance program. Liability insurance provides protection from potential
losses resulting from injury or damage to others or their property. Just recall some of the big cash awards you have read about that have resulted from lawsuits concerning liability of one kind or another and you will understand the importance of this insurance. Your insurance agent can describe the various types of liability insurance coverage that are available. If you will end up with a comprehensive general policy, make certain that the general policy does not include items you don’t need. Pay for only the insurance you need. For example, your business may not need product liability insurance.

Do not confuse business liability coverage with your personal liability coverage, both of which you need. Your personal coverage will not cover a business-generated liability. Check to be certain.

Compare the costs of different levels of coverage. In some cases a $2 million policy costs only slightly more than a $1 million policy. This economy of scale is true with most forms of insurance coverage. That is, after a certain value, additional insurance becomes very economical.

KEY PERSON INSURANCE

This type of insurance is particularly important for the sole proprietorship or partnership where the loss of one person through illness, accident, or death may render the business inoperative or severely limit its operations. This insurance, although not inexpensive, can provide protection for this situation. Key person insurance might also be necessary for others involved in your business.

SGC was a small firm run by three partners, a software programmer, marketer, and a general manager. Their product was a complex computer program used by aerospace firms. Al, the programmer, was involved in a severe automobile accident, became totally disabled, and SGC lost their programming capability. The problem was that the computer program written by Al was essentially the company’s sole product. Modifications to accommodate the customer became impossible and the time to bring another programmer up to speed was excessive. SGC lost considerable business as a result of this situation. These losses could have been offset by key person insurance.

DISABILITY INSURANCE

You, as a business owner, should be covered by disability insurance whether or not you decide on key person insurance. This insurance, along with business-interruption insurance, described below, will help ensure your business will continue to operate in the unfortunate situation where you are unable to work. Your disability insurance policy needs to provide satisfactory coverage. Particular attention should be paid to the definition of “disability,” delay time until payments start, when coverage terminates, and adjustments for inflation.

FIRE INSURANCE

Fire insurance, like all insurance is complicated and you should understand what IS and IS NOT covered. For example, a typical fire insurance policy covers the loss of contents but does not cover your losses from the fact that you may be out of business for 2-months while your facility is rebuilt. Fire insurance is mandatory whether you’re working out of a home office or you have a separate facility. You should discuss a comprehensive policy with your agent. Take the time to understand the details. For example, will the contents be insured for their replacement value or for actual value at the time of loss?

Consider a co-insurance clause that will reduce the policy cost considerably. This means that the insurance carrier will require you to carry insurance equal to some percentage of the value of your property. (Usually around 85%.) With this type of clause it is very important that you review coverage frequently so you always meet the minimum percentage required. If this minimum is not met, a loss will not be paid no matter what its value.

If you are working out of your home, your existing homeowner’s policy may not cover business property. If this is the case, have your insurance agent to add a home-office rider to your policy.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

You probably already have automobile insurance but it might not include business use of your vehicle. Make sure that it does.

WORKER’S COMPENSATION INSURANCE

If you make the decision to hire employees, you will be required, in most states, to cover them under worker’s compensation. The cost of this insurance varies widely and depends on the kind of work being performed and your accident history. It is important that you properly classify your employees to secure the lowest insurance rates. Work closely with your insurance agent.

BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE

This protects against loss of revenue as the result of property damage. This insurance would be used, for instance, if you could not operate your business during the time repairs were being made as a result of a fire or in the event of the loss of a key supplier. The coverage can pay for salaries, taxes, and lost profits.

CREDIT INSURANCE

This will pay for unusual losses as the result of nonpayment of accounts receivables above a certain threshold. As with all policies, you must thoroughly understand the details so discuss it with your insurance agent. One of the largest providers of this coverage is American Credit Indemnity, Baltimore, MD. (800) 879 1224.

BURGLARY/ROBBERY/THEFT INSURANCE

Comprehensive policies are available that protect against loss from these perils, including by your own employees. Make certain you understand what is excluded from coverage.

RENT INSURANCE

This policy covers the cost of rent for other facilities in the event your property becomes damaged to the extent that operations cannot continue in your normal location.

DISABILITY INSURANCE

This insurance will pay you an amount each month slightly less than your current salary in the event you become disabled and are unable to work. Cost for this coverage varies considerably depending on your profession, salary level, how quickly benefits start, and when they end. Benefits paid are tax-free only if you, not your company, pay the premiums.

This list could be continued since it is possible to purchase insurance for just about any peril you can imagine … if you can pay the premium! When considering your insurance coverage, use the following checklist:

INSURANCE COVERAGE CHECKLIST:

o Can you afford the loss?

o What coverage is required by Federal, state, or local law?

o What SPECIFIC items are covered by the policy?

o Are items to be insured for their replacement cost or original value?

o What SPECIFIC items are EXCLUDED by the policy?

o If there is a co-insurance clause, do you have adequate coverage?

o Have you chosen deductibles wisely in order to minimize costs?

o Do any of the policies you are considering duplicate or overlap one another?

o Do you need any insurance based on location, e.g., flood, earthquake?

Use the following checklist to review your insurance plans:

INSURANCE PLAN CHECKLIST:

o Employ an independent insurance agent rather than going to individual insurance companies. Ensure the agent shops for your insurance.

o Talk to and get quotations from at least THREE agents and pick the best one for you.

o Use money saving comprehensive policies, if possible.

o Perform periodic (every 6-months) reviews of your insurance program.

o Have business assets professionally appraised to determine coverage needs.

o Ensure existing personal insurance coverage includes business-related activities and add riders as necessary or obtain additional coverage.