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What is process mapping? And how does it benefit your business?
This article is part of our Process 101 guide.
What are the activities, which if you stopped them, would make your business come to a halt?
Because these activities form your core processes; the things that together, comprise the blueprint of how your organisation works.
This blueprint is the single most important thing you own, because it details how you add value to your customers. By documenting every step your business takes in order to operate efficiently and effectively, it ensures that things are done the same way, by everyone, every time.
It’s rare that an organisation has this information written down. A lot of the time it’s buried deep in a file share or kept in our heads. And this means that it’s easy to forget steps or do things your own way. Now the process isn’t being followed. Now you’ve lost your IP.
Process mapping creates your business blueprint
Process mapping is a simple framework that shows you a visual representation of all the core processes in your business, details the relationship between each step, and the decision points in the process.
There are many benefits of process mapping, including:
- Clarity over what your processes actually look like
- Making process more visible across the business
- Improving communication between departments
- Consistency over the way you do things
- Better customer service
- Compliance with industry legislation
It’s why consultants who deal with Six Sigma and ISO 9001 benefit from seeing their business, or their client’s organisation, undertake a process mapping exercise.
It starts with the ‘as-is’ model
There are two main parts to process mapping. The first part starts by looking at what process looks like in your business today.
It would be really challenging, if not impossible, for one person to document this accurately. Therefore, you need to start by assembling all the key stakeholders in the business – this includes people who are responsible for managing the process, and those who actually run the processes everyday as part of business-as-usual.
Define the parameters
Every process has a start point and an end point; that’s not to say that certain steps in the process can’t take you off in a certain direction, or kick-start another process – but it still has a start point and an end point, so set those parameters.
List the steps
This is best done by someone who runs this process day-in, day-out. They’re the people who figured out that something was broken, and created a work-around; they’re the ones that tried a different way of working and saw it was better than the original; they’re the ones who know how process ACTUALLY works in your business.
Connect the dots
Now you have all the component parts in the process, it’s time to add a layer of detail. Mark in where the lines of responsibility and accountability lie. Highlight the decision points. And show where the important triggers are for starting the next action or process.
Process mapping gives you a better understanding of your business
Having applied the ‘as-is’ model to your organisation, you can see the way it currently operates, and how certain processes work in parallel in order to reach a final outcome. And by seeing this workflow drawn out, it becomes simple to identify areas for improvement, where you can change or update the process to make it work more efficiently.
Where do you need ‘to-be’?
Creating the ‘to-be’ model is all about looking at the bigger picture. It considers what the business needs to achieve overall, how it can get there, and then looks to review and optimise your existing processes to make it happen.
It is also necessary to ask everyone involved what is going wrong. Where is communication breaking down? Where do we let the client down? Where does it all go pear shaped?
The idea behind the ‘as-is’ ‘to-be’ models is to get everyone aligned in your organisation, so they’re all pulling in the same direction and ensuring that any change you need to create in the business sticks.
But the challenge in applying it to your business is that it quickly becomes apparent how fragmented the organisation is. Often, the departments are working in silos, doing their own thing to complete their tasks. And that means they’re not always considering the daily impact they have on other areas of the business.
And because they’ve been doing things a certain way, and it works for them, they think it’s the right way – and they’re going to fight to keep it that way.
Managing the cultural clash of process mapping
Process mapping is a valuable exercise, particularly for growing organisations that need to implement the systems, processes and hierarchy that enables them to scale. But it is a culturally sensitive exercise, and you can’t overlook those challenges.
Managed in the wrong way, and you’ll end up causing conflict, a deeper ingrained siloed mentality and greater business pain.
Managed in the right way, you can open people’s eyes up to a new way of working, where they’re prepared to listen to new ideas, and perhaps try a different/better way of working.
Process mapping in Process Bliss
You’ve dedicated so much effort into creating the blueprint of your organisation, and then optimising it to drive your business forward. But then making it all happen is often where people fall down…
But that’s where Process Bliss fits in.
Our mapping tool allows you to define each step in the process in a clear, visual way. Through the use of decisions you can map what should happen next in the process depending on different conditions, and you can add all the information needed to complete each step, such as detailed instructions and files.
In this way, process is no longer stuck in a file share, or kept in someone’s head, it’s a useful and integral part of the business.