What is a business process consultant?

What Is A Business Process Consultant? (And How To Tell If You Need One)

Chris Ronzio

March 05, 2021

Documenting how you do what you do is key to scaling a growing business. But what if you don’t know how – or simply don’t have the time – to document and optimize your processes? Well, you can always hire a business process consultant to help!

And before you say anything, we get it – documenting your business is a lot of upfront work. But once it’s built, you can take work off your plate by delegating more tasks, growing your team, and starting to scale faster. And just like any other task, you can even take documentation off your to-do list, too – with a business process consultant, that is. 

Here’s how:

🔥 Tip: Trainual has dozens of business process consultants on standby to help you optimize your operations! We call them our Trainual Certified Consultants.

What is a business process consultant?

A business process consultant is an outside consultant who comes into your business and helps you document your processes, policies, and procedures. Meaning, they get to know your business structure by mapping out the roles, responsibilities, SOPs, and workflows. Then, they take that knowledge from your business and put it into your documentation. 

Plus, your business process consultant will also offer recommendations to optimize the way your business does what it does. That way, your business can run super smoothly, and you’ll see more consistent results – without you having to put in all the effort. AKA you’ll finally be able to exponentially scale your systems.

Double plus, with the help of a business process consultant, you can: 

  • Get all your systems and processes documented in a flash
  • Really know the state of your business operations
  • Improve how your small business operates by filling in the gaps
  • Get everyone on the same exact page by scrapping redundant processes

Put plainly, a business process consultant can help you finally get the operations of your business in good working order.

What does a business process consultant do?

When I worked as a business process consultant before Trainual, I used a standardized process for working with each of my clients. (Spoiler: When you work with a Trainual Certified Consultant, they’ll do the same thing for you.)

Here’s how this process looks:

Step 1: Learn how your business operates

The first step is getting to know the ins and outs of your business. And to do that, your business process consultant will come into the business (in-person or via Zoom) and talk with your employees. But don’t worry – they’re not there to snoop around!

Instead, they’ll ask questions about what your business does and how your team makes it happen. Basically, they want to know:

  • Who is responsible for what
  • How each task gets carried out
  • Where big decisions are made 

Then, they use that information to map out all your key roles, responsibilities, SOPs, and workflows

Step 2: Look for inefficiencies and inconsistencies

When you’re inside the company, doing the work, you’re often too close to the problems and opportunities to see them. And you’re more likely to document the way you wish your business operated. Rather than capture the way it really runs. 

So, a business process consultant acts as a fresh set of eyes. They’ll document the actual processes in play. That way, you get an accurate picture of your company’s current operations – including where the problems and opportunities exist.

This is a game-changer when it comes to hitting your goals. Because chances are good, these inefficiencies and inconsistencies are what is standing in your way. But from inside the business, you might have no idea that they’re even happening (a huge miss).

Step 3: Optimize your processes and systems

Once you see your company’s operational problems and opportunities, you and your team will work closely with the business process consultant to remove any inefficiencies and inconsistencies. And, in the process, make your business run more reliably and cost-effectively. 

This might mean bringing in new tools to automate some of the work, cutting out unnecessary steps, or filling the gaps where people come up with their own way of doing things. 

That way, you can first solve any operational problems your company faces (like redundant steps). Then, meet the available opportunities (like increasing your operations by 2X, 5X, or even 10X).

Step 4: Build consistent, easy-to-follow SOPs

As you land on the right way to run your business, your consultant will update your existing documentation to reflect the new way of doing things. Or, if nothing’s documented yet, they’ll create clear, easy-to-follow SOPs for the new processes. 

So, you get detailed instructions for everything your business does – task by task. And you can use those instructions to easily train your team on the right way of doing things. 

Meaning, you take all the guesswork out of how your business runs moving forward – for both new and existing team members. Because when there’s only one way to do something, everyone does it the same way (AKA more consistency and efficiency across the board). And as a result, you eliminate room for costly mistakes and increase your bottom line!
  
🔥 Tip: Thousands of growing small businesses use Trainual to document and manage their processes, policies, and procedures. Try for free.

Can’t you do this in-house?

Short answer: maybe. 

It really depends on who you have on your team. You’re going to need someone who is super organized, loves systems, and has experience across several industries. 

So, if you have that person on your team (and they have hours of bandwidth to get it done), you should absolutely document and optimize your processes in-house! 

If you can't do this in house, a business process consultant can

We’ve actually had lots of companies do it this way, and they’ve seen equally great success. For example, Harmon Brothers, the creative ad agency behind the viral Squatty Potty ads, turned a long-winded Google Doc into an easy-to-follow Trainual in just a few months.  

But not every small business has that operationally-minded person. And if you have a leaner team, you may have this person, but they don’t have the bandwidth to do all this. So, while you’d like to pretend they’ll eventually document how to do the work you do (after their work is done), it probably won’t ever happen. 

Other companies may have already documented their business in-house. But now, they want to unlock exponential growth. And to do that, they need to bring in a business process consultant to help.

Admittedly, documenting and optimizing your processes takes a lot of time up-front. And on top of that, you want to get it done ASAP. That way, there’s less time for mistakes to be made, and you can start reaping the rewards sooner. 

But once it’s built, it’s just a matter of keeping your documentation updated and assigned out to the right people (which should only take a few hours a month max).

🔥 Tip: With Trainual, you can assign your team only the processes they need to know – and track when they go through the documentation. And when you update these processes, your team automatically gets notified, so they’re always up to date. Try for free. 

When do you need to bring in a consultant?

When to bring in a business process consultant

When a business is just getting started, the goal is to get as many customers as possible. Meaning, you’re focused primarily on marketing and sales. 

But eventually, you hit a point where you can’t grow much more and keep up the demand – unless you rethink how your business operates. I refer to this as “the ceiling.” 

If you’re starting to hit the ceiling (and know more customers could break the business), it’s time to invest in your processes. Maybe you have someone inside your company who can do it. Or (if you’re like most small businesses) you need to bring in a business process consultant to help.

But when you hire a business process consultant, it doesn’t have to be a forever thing. You may only need them until your team grows and you have the necessary skills and bandwidth to take over the role. 

Or, you might bring them on for a bit and when things are better, let them go. But since you’ll likely hit that ceiling again down the road, you’ll probably need to bring your business process consultant back on.

How to choose a good one

When you’re ready to find a business process consultant, the search can (admittedly) be a bit daunting. 

There are tons of business process consultants out there. But you don’t want to just hire any business process consultant that you find on the internet or that your network recommends. Instead, you want to hire the one that will make your business the absolute best that it can be! 

Here are a few quick checkpoints to help you assess all the business process consultants you’re considering and choose the right one:

They have experience in several industries

It’s tempting to find a business process consultant that’s an expert in your specific industry. But, plainly put, those usually aren’t the consultants that will get you the best results. 

That’s because familiarity with your industry doesn’t guarantee better results. Instead, it often gets in the way of them. 

Instead, you want to hire the business process consultants with experience across multiple industries. Specifically, the one that has a  solid track record with tons of companies.

Without institutional knowledge, these business process consultants rely on their process knowledge and ability to ask the right questions. So, they offer an unbiased perspective. And as a result, you get better insights into the problems and opportunities your company faces. 

🔥 Tip: Don’t be afraid to do due diligence and your prospective process consultants for their track record. It’ll be a great resource for narrowing down your search (I mean, who wants to work with a consultant with no references or credentials).

They ask the good questions

Since a business process consultant is removed from the company, they’re a neutral party. One that wants to learn about your business. And this makes asking the right questions part of their job. 

Your response when a good business process consultant asks you a question.

A great business process consultant will ask questions that you might never have thought to ask. Because without being part of your company, they don’t know how to do what you do. 

So, the business process consultant is trying to fill in their own knowledge gaps. And in the process, they’ll naturally identify gaps in your SOPs and fill those in, too. 

While this sounds super easy, it’s actually a skill that comes with experience – and in most cases, should be left to a professional. For example, you can show anyone the pipes under your kitchen sink. But unless they’re a plumber, chances are good they can’t fix them for you. 

They’re familiar with the tools you use

You don’t want to waste time teaching your business process consultant how to do their job. 

When you have to train your business process consultant on your small business tools, it typically gets added to their scope. Meaning, you’re paying for the prep and getting less actual work done. Or, you’re just paying more overall. 

Instead, find one that already knows how to use the tools your business relies on – especially your documentation tool (yes, I’m talking about Trainual). 

That way, you get the most you can from your investment. And none of the work you do with your business process consult goes to waste.

🔥 Tip: With Trainual, your processes and systems are documented all in one place. And you can effortlessly track, test, and hold your people accountable for knowing these processes – now that you’ve invested in them. Try for free.

They involve your team

A great business process consultant involves your team every step of the way. So, they’re helping the consultant optimize the processes they own. Which, in turn, gives them a real sense of ownership over those processes.

Meaning, your team is more likely to uphold the new way of doing things moving forward. And if they see someone starting to lax on the process, to hold that person accountable. 

This rallying of your team is key to getting the full return on your business process consultant investment. Because your systems and processes could be documented perfectly, but if no one follows them, what good are they?

You recognize the investment

Before you bring someone on, it comes down to the million-dollar question (no pun intended): How much are you willing to invest?

I know it’s a cliche – but when it comes to hiring a business process consultant, you get what you pay for. So, while you might be able to do this work in-house for free or someone out-of-house to do it for cheap, it doesn’t mean they’ll do it right. And chances are good, these approaches will cost you more long-term.

Instead, look past the price tag and ask yourself: What is getting my operations in line worth? And more importantly, what’s the return going to look like? Because what you’re willing to put in upfront should reflect what the work is actually worth to you and your business. That way, it’s done right the first time and saves you money in the long run.

If you’re unsure how to answer any of these questions, ask your team, investors, board members, or the consultant you’re considering hiring! 

While your internal people will give their best guess, your business process consultant should have hard data on their previous clients’ experiences. Return on investment included. 

So, feel free to request this information before you hire someone. And if the business process consultant doesn’t have any supporting evidence, it might be a sign to keep looking. You definitely want to find someone that offers this transparency.

Find the right consultant with Trainual

The search to find a great business process consultant can (like I said before) be daunting and a little difficult. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with a Rolodex of the best in the business.  

Enter Trainual’s Certified Consultant program. AKA dozens of business process consultants on standby – who specialize in small business processes. And they’re all certified with Trainual, the top-rated documentation and training tool. 

A business process consultant from our Certified Consultant program can help you: 

  • Analyze your business from a fresh perspective 
  • Record all your existing best practices
  • Point out inconsistencies and inefficiencies
  • Identify your biggest opportunities for growth
  • Help apply best practices from their experience with different companies and industries 
  • Help you document your business in Trainual

Plus, with the help of a certified business process consultant, you can go from everyone doing things their own way to finally getting everyone doing things the best way – with standardized best practices. Meaning, you can finally break past that ceiling and scale your business!

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