The Power of Graphical Business Management Systems for SMEs

why your business management system should be graphicalAdopting a Business Management System (BMS) is a well-established way to manage and control all the processes and procedures that you use to run your company. But complex manufacturing and high tech businesses, morphing into successful SMEs from bootstrap startups may face particular challenges as they do so.

‘Business process’ defined

A business process can be defined as ‘a set of activities and tasks that, once completed, will accomplish an organisational goal’. Your whole business will be made up of these activities, which will constitute various levels of complexity and importance. In a high tech development setting they will include manufacturing or development processes which are expensive and resource intensive.

The challenges of high tech development

In high tech startups, your existing processes may have been developed over time by small teams working intensively on individual projects. You may not have needed to write them down before and the legacy of that may be chaos. Over time and without a definitive record of what they are, important steps could have been omitted and errors started to creep into the way you work. As your business has grown and different people become involved in delivery, the quality of your end product may have begun to suffer and delivery timetables begun to slip.

In face of this you may have started to document and record some or all your business processes in different ways, binding hard copies in folders or storing others on line.

You may be doing this to try and improve your quality systems prior to an audit, or simply trying to cut waste to improve your profitability.

However, if your company is still finding it difficult to follow the business processes you have established and are consistently failing to achieve quality goals, a Graphical Business Management System (gBMS) may just be the answer to your problems.

But what is a gBMS?

A gBMS, also known as a graphical Quality Management System (gQMS) is a way of recording your overall business processes as visual, interactive, and dynamic web pages that employees can use with all mainstream browsers. It is a simple way of making business critical information easily accessible to all the people in your company who depend on it do their jobs.

And, because it is a web based solution, with simple ‘no code’ configuration requirements, it means it’s quick and easy for a business to design and deliver it.

5 reasons your Business Management System should be graphical

1. You need a ‘single source of truth’

If you have been recording and storing your business processes in various formats and various locations on-line and on paper, they are likely not to be standardised and difficult to locate or interrogate.

Having procedures stored in disparate places, in an unsystematic and ad hoc way is as dangerous as having no documentation at all. It can lead to duplication, misunderstanding and wasted time as you try to find and use them in a meaningful way to assist with the management of your business.

A gBMS allows you to gather all these disparate pieces of documentation and process diagrams together to create an ‘at a glance’, graphical depiction of the structure and procedures of every part of your company.

Searchable and stored in one place, with processes and hierarchies depicted in flow charts and diagrams, the gBMS can be a ‘single source of truth’ for your company’s best practice, visualised in dynamic, digital form.

2. It’s hard to see what’s going on

Visualising your business using a gBMS tool in this way easily allows for the identification of gaps and overlaps in your processes. It keeps you focused on the processes that make up your business, rather than extraneous detail around them.

Above all, it makes it simple to see at a glance how each process in your organization operates.

There are no long and complex documents to trawl through, you don’t need to read through reams of instructions to understand what is required, you can look at a process flow as a whole to grasp it.

3. You’re making mistakes and wasting money

Even if all your processes are recorded somewhere (either stored digitally or in real world files) it might still be the case that your employees are prone to making errors.

Multiple errors in production or development can be the result of badly recorded or misunderstood business processes.

If you can’t easily drill down into a complex process or work flow, understand its dependencies and what it needs to achieve - then you will find it hard to identify those that are failing and change them. Ultimately, you will be condemned to repeat the mistakes that result from them. Depending on the amount of resource and money involved this can be a very expensive failing indeed.

A graphical element to a work flow, a diagram that allows an employee to visualise and follow a procedure step by step in a particular way is clearly better than a process that is simply ‘written up’ in document form.

In a gBMS each step of a process in a diagram can be rendered ‘clickable’, revealing further information about the process, linking away to vital supporting documentation such as instruction manuals or H&S documents. In this way, each process can be viewed in as little or as much detail as is required

In a high tech development or manufacturing context, where a particular process might use expensive resource or materials, reducing the risk of misunderstandings through the visualisation of process is highly desirable.

Choosing the best business management software for your company

4. You haven’t got oversight

 How quickly can you audit your business processes? How easily can you lay your hands on the documentation that defines each procedure and task that is critical to your business? How do you explain to people who join the structure of your business and the chain of command? Can you see an end to end visualisation of each work-flow, the inputs and outputs that lead to delivery of end products to the customer? Can you see a completion status for each project in development and understand what needs to happen for it to be delivered successfully?

As noted above, the gBMS operates as a highly visual, single ‘source of truth’ for the way each business process works, but it can also show the way each process connects and integrates with the business as a whole.

This kind of oversight is often lacking in a business, particularly in a startup or SME where particular procedures and structures have grown organically over time. A lack of oversight can make auditing and managing a business much more challenging.

5. You need to focus on quality

If your business is about to undergo a quality audit to be ISO certified (against standards such as ISO9001: 2015) you may have wished you had a solution for all the problems listed above and a way of delivering against them. An on-line solution that will allow you to view the detail and dependencies of each process at the touch of a button

In that case a graphical Business Management System that will help you order, document and visualise all of the processes that guarantee the quality and consistency of your end products is likely to be the fix you need.

Using a gBMS you can document graphically everything you do from the way you create and deliver products and services, to the financial controls that support your entire business. It’s an easy way to fulfill audit requirements

The graphical business tools that are part of the mapping processes can create a digital map of your company as whole, with workflows and clickable objects linking away to supporting documentation - defining and documenting every element of the way you work, protecting against financial waste and delays in project delivery.

It is a way of minimising the risks of nonconformity, maximising efficiencies in your business and replicating success.


Tags: Product Management, New Product Development

Joe Byrne

Written by Joe Byrne

Joe Byrne is the CEO of Cognidox. With a career spanning medical device start-ups and fortune 500 companies, Joe has over 25 years of experience in the medical device and high-tech product development industries. With extensive experience in scaling businesses, process improvement, quality, medical devices and product development, Joe is a regular contributor to the Cognidox DMS Insights blog where he shares expertise on scaling and streamlining the entire product development cycle, empowering enterprises to achieve governance, compliance, and rigour.

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