Auditing processes might sound like a secondary objective for your business, but don’t overlook their intrinsic value. Done right, a business process audit can highlight inefficiencies and anomalies which are costing your operation time and money, and ensure that all internal functions are aligned with your key goals and objectives.
Depending on the infrastructure of your business, effective process auditing may prove a complex undertaking – but don’t let that put you off. The benefits you stand to gain from regular and comprehensive process auditing far outweigh any headaches which could deter you from proceeding with the assessment.
In this guide, we’re taking a detailed look at auditing business processes, defining what the procedure entails and the many benefits it can offer. We’ll also list our essential tips for successful process auditing, so you know what to look for and how to get it right.
- What is Business Process Auditing?
- How Can Auditing Processes Help Your Business?
- Tips on How to Audit Business Processes
In practice, business process auditing is a means of assessing how effectively your business is managing its processes. It’s a formal procedure that sets out to uncover pain points and inconsistencies across internal functions and workflows, affording the opportunity to put things right before they morph into larger operational issues.
The primary objective of auditing business processes is to make sure that every workflow aligns with the strategic goals of the business. Is the process suitable, adequate and fit for purpose? Is it sustainable in the long term? And does it still achieve its original objective?
Traditionally, process auditing fell within the remit of large businesses and multinationals. But as demand grows in all industry sectors, many SMEs are now leaning on regular process auditing as a means of maintaining their competitive edge.
In summary, process auditing is a matter of refining the operational elements of your business – ensuring that you continue to deliver the expected level of value for customers, partners, clients and personnel.
Auditing business processes can offer a wealth of benefits to teams, individuals and stakeholders in all areas of your operation. Not only does it serve to raise red flags over potential bottlenecks and pain points, but it also allows you to refine functionality to the nth degree – for optimal efficiency and performance.
Let’s take a look at some of the key attributes of regular business process auditing.
- Reduces anomalies, inconsistencies, and errors, which can improve things like cash flow liquidity and accurate data capture.
- Encourages continuous improvement among teams and individuals, cultivating an ethos whereby personnel are always looking to improve internal processes.
- Ensures that every process, workflow and business function is aligned with company objectives, providing greater assurance to senior stakeholders.
- Increased productivity as a result of streamlined workflows and improved efficiencies.
- Improves risk management, offering greater clarity over the functions and workflows which could cause issues in the future.
- Assists with contingency planning, highlighting the key business processes which must be maintained to ensure the business remains solvent.
- Simpler training and onboarding of new employees, with streamlined processes and intuitive workflows.
- Provides business leaders and key decision-makers with optimal functionality data, allowing them to refine approaches and decide where best to deploy additional resources and investment.
- Ensures optimal security and data protection, with water-tight processes and procedures governing company systems and software.
- Greater cross-department transparency, ensuring optimal collaboration and trust between internal business functions.
- Guarantees that technology and systems are being used at the optimum level, maintaining maximum ROI across all operational areas.
- Helps identify gaps in staffing, processes and technology.
These are just some of the benefits that businesses will enjoy through regular process auditing. The advantages you can expect will differ depending on your operational infrastructure, as well as your primary business goals and objectives.
It’s all very well listing the attributes of business process auditing, but how does such an assessment work in practice? Here, we take a look at some of the key things to remember when carrying out a targeted audit of your business processes.
Create an auditing team – they’re responsible for evaluating processes within key areas of the business. Ideally, you’ll need a project lead (which could be yourself), one or two IT personnel with knowledge of internal systems and software, and a stakeholder from each department who has a good understanding of individual workflows and functions.
Host an alignment meeting – with your auditing team assembled, now’s the time to prep your troops on the objectives of the processing audit. What do you hope to achieve from the audit? Are there any issues or efficiencies which the team should consider when auditing processes? Identify the processes which are managed by personnel rather than systems – could these be incorporated into the software or could they be better married to a new system? Be clear on the what and the why of the audit to ensure you get the results you want.
Devise an auditing methodology – process auditing takes many forms, so you’ll need to decide on the right approach depending on your objectives. Interviews and questionnaires with employees can be helpful in ascertaining top-level issues, while direct observation is critical for gathering the evidence you need to refine and improve wavering processes.
Take it function by function – depending on the size and scope of your business, carrying out a full, cross-departmental process audit on a single occasion could prove overwhelming. Instead, take a function-by-function approach, targeting individual processes and workflows to garner comprehensive insights into what’s working and what isn’t.
Develop an action plan – after gathering data and evidence, sit down with your auditing team to come up with an effective action plan. What issues did the evaluation bring to light? And what steps are needed to resolve them? This is where your labours start to bear fruit, so develop a systematic plan of action that will yield positive results for your business.
Implement and measure – With your refined processes in place, ensure they are correctly implemented, and all employees are aware of the new systems. By ensuring your team all adhere to new working practices, you stand to get maximum return from the new systems. Employee training may be required to bring everyone up to speed, but a fully trained team working within the software infrastructure will be more compliant to rules, controls and protocols.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on auditing business processes. If you need help refining and optimising your business processes, we can help. Our future-ready business management solutions are tailored to your needs, so you can get more from your processes, systems and software no matter what your goals and objectives. Our Outdated Software Holding You Back? whitepaper could help you identify where your systems could be working hard for you.