The Fundamentals of Business Process Optimization

Business Process Optimization (BPO) strategy


What’s the best way to increase productivity and reduce costs in a business? Better task prioritization? Minimizing cost overrun? Moving to a hybrid working model? While all these ideas can help, they’re not the best way to get more done while cushioning your bottom line.

The truth is, making huge changes to the way your staff work day-to-day, such as introducing a work-from-home policy, matters very little if your business’s processes are outdated, slow, and reliant on offline work. Issues with non-optimized processes can affect any area of your business, from sales to IT. 

If a core team’s access to the company’s server is disconnected with no way of IT remedying the issue, work throughout the company could grind to a hold. Likewise, if the sales and marketing teams don’t have a defined process for sharing key information, how are they meant to work together effectively? The best way to resolve these issues is through business process optimization.

Business process optimization can seem like a complex topic, but it’s really quite straightforward. Let’s break it down.

What is business process optimization?

Business process optimization, also known as BPO, focuses on improving a business’s efficiency by optimizing its core processes in a targeted and rigorous manner. BPO can be applied to both internal and external processes, as well as singular processes and individual departments. However, it works best when an organization makes an effort to improve its processes across the board.

The benefits of business process optimization

Process optimization can seem a daunting task. After all, ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ is a saying for a reason, right?

Let’s think about this in terms of a car. If your car has a flat tire, a cracked windshield, and its engine is temperamental, but it’s still running and can get you from A to B, is it broken? Most people would agree that the car is broken, despite it technically being functional.

The same logic should be applied to business processes. Just because a process gets the job done, it doesn’t make it acceptable. While we could write letters home to our families, a phone call is must quicker and more effective. It’s always worth improving your processes, whether it's to make them quicker, smarter or to reduce their cost. Let’s look at some more specific benefits.

Increased efficiency

While hard work is important to driving a business forward, working smarter wherever possible can help your teams get more done to a higher standard. That doesn’t mean rushing to get more done in the day; rather, simplifying a process by removing unnecessary hoops for people to jump through or automating certain tasks can give employees more time to focus on what matters.

Better cost management

Increased efficiency + increased productivity = healthier bottom line. By reducing the amount of downtime employees experience due to drawn-out and inefficient processes, you get more from your investments. Likewise, reviewing what tools or services your business pays for could open up opportunities for cost-saving initiatives.

Improved morale and results

When employees are frustrated because outdated processes make their jobs unnecessarily difficult, motivation is low. People generally want to do a good job, so reducing barriers to success by optimizing the systems they use each day will go a long way to guaranteeing your employees feel happy and fulfilled. That, in turn, equals better results, be that more satisfied customers or the creation of higher-quality products.

Competitive advantage

Let’s look at the example of the car again. Would you rather drive the beaten-up vehicle or a shiny modern model with new wheels and a first-class engine? 

Businesses that regularly improve their systems and processes are more likely to find their clients and end-users are satisfied with the experience of working with them. Optimizing your processes and therefore the experience customers have with your business will give you a significant advantage over your competitors.

How to implement business process optimization at your company

It can be tempting to dive headlong into an exciting new initiative — especially one that promises such fantastic returns — but let’s take a step back. Planning is the key to executing your business process optimization project effectively. Here are the top-level steps to follow.


The first step is to identify what processes are causing issues in your business. Some may be immediately obvious; perhaps you’ve been complaining that the current IT system crashes whenever you log an issue, leaving employees without access to servers. Other poor processes may only impact specific teams or job functions.

However, you won’t be privy to everything your employees struggle with. It’s worth getting them involved and asking for their suggestions. People like to feel heard and reassured that a solution is in the works.

At this stage, you should also define the purpose of each improvement and your goals. As with most goal-setting activities, we recommend that these are realistic and clearly defined. 


Once you have a list of processes to optimize, it’s time to begin analysis. This is an opportunity to look into each identified process in more detail and determine whether or not it’s functioning as expected, based on the desired goal. During this phase, you’re likely to uncover additional issues as well as opportunities to cut down on wastage.


In this step, you should streamline each process where appropriate by cutting down on wastage. That can mean replacing outdated software, bringing work that was previously done via pen and paper online, and removing unnecessary steps from processes, such as approvals.

Plus, wherever possible, automate admin-based tasks to free up your employees' time to spend on more valuable activities, such as building relationships with customers or planning new projects.


You won’t get everything right the first time. Some of the new and improved processes will take time for your employees to adjust to. That’s ok.

Make sure to review progress and performance, keeping notes on what’s working well and what needs adjusting. Optimization is an iterative process that involves talking to the people it affects and making changes as you go.

What are some practical examples of business process optimization?

Concepts such as business process optimization can feel rather abstract until we put them into real-world terms. Let's look at some examples of how BPO can work across three industries.


In sales, timing is everything. You chase up a lead too soon, and you risk irritating them and losing their business. However, if you wait too long, they may move on with a competitor.

Outdated sales processes rely on representatives using instinct or templated plans when nurturing relationships with prospects. While these more old-school approaches can work, the process is definitely not optimized.

Tracking conversations via a CRM can help sales teams optimize their processes. These tools can provide useful insights into what tactics work best to convert leads or send automatic reminders of when it’s time to follow up on a conversation.

Project management

Project managers will be well acquainted with the idea of optimizing processes. Poorly optimized projects often go off the rails for small things, such as missed deadlines due to delayed feedback or unclear sign-off processes. In project management, process improvement plans are often used to rectify these issues. Improvements can include tracking risk via a risk register or defining responsibilities via a RACI matrix.

Such plans are usually helpful on a project team level but can also feed into wider business process optimization planning.

Human Resources

HR teams deal with a lot of administrative work, from managing the entire recruitment process to organizing well-being activities. The fact that their work can impact people’s lives means ensuring their systems work effectively is a must.

One such example is the process of sending out offers to job candidates. Let’s say that Jane, the Hiring Manager at a software company, has spoken to no fewer than 20 applicants for an open engineer position. One special individual stood out to the development team, and Jane’s next step is to extend an offer. This company runs the hiring process manually via email, meaning Jane has to dig through weeks’ worth of messages to find the individual's details, the salary they negotiated, and their notice period.

Implementing an efficient HR tool like Bamboo HR to manage the hiring process could save people like Jane a lot of time and significantly reduce the risk of error.

How Forecast can help

Are you ready to take the first steps toward improving your project management team’s performance with business process optimization? Here’s how Forecast can help.

Managing projects within Forecast ensures your team will get to grips with new processes quickly, reduces bottlenecks, and mitigates the risk of overspending. There are so many brilliant tools to discover, including simplified — and automated — resource management, easy-to-use dashboards, and notifications of when a project is at risk of going over budget. That means your team can spend less energy on time-consuming admin and more time delivering fantastic results. Plus, those handy dashboards support BPO by helping you make optimization decisions on the fly.

Try Forecast out for yourself by signing up for a free trial below.

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