Processes are at the heart of every business. Business process mapping, also known as a process chart are steps that must be completed in a given order to achieve a specific result. Think of a process map as a “snapshot” of that process.
Business processes are the things we need to do, the tasks that we must perform day to day to keep the business running. Business Process mapping technique is a way to visually represents a step-by-step guide to show the successive steps that are needed to complete a single process.
They can be used to simply document a process for employee reference when completing a task, or it can help improve business by highlighting things that might benefit from a change.
In their most basic form, process maps can be designed on a big piece of paper with post-it notes used to demonstrate a workflow process.
Process maps can allow you to divide the tasks into sections to indicate who is in charge of each activity.
Helping you to see the steps needed to complete a job, the more you can understand them the better you will be able to manage your business processes.
There are a number of techniques available for mapping (or charting) business processes these days but In 1921 the first method for documenting process flow was introduced by Frank Gilbreth and wife Lillian Gilbreth.
Members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in their search for the “one best way.” They created a flow process chart, which was introduced in the presentation “Process Charts—First Steps in Finding the One Best Way” both great problem solvers decided to define the problem and break it down.
The flow process chart used a basic system of a lined, columnar form with sets of five symbols running down the page and space for a brief description.
It was such a simple idea but this tool that did so much for manufacturing and made them early advocates of scientific management.
In the 1930s an industrial engineer Allan H. Mogensen began training business people in using these tools and introduced it to Procter and Gamble.
As previously mentioned, process mapping can be used to document existing processes. However, in terms of business change, process mapping can be a tool to create improvements and prevent failure by making sustainable and effective changes in working procedures and standard operating procedures (SOP).
They are a useful aid, because of processes regularly changing, and procedures becoming outdated. Process maps allow you to get details from all the people involved, so you can design an improved process for everyone to follow and boost productivity.
Defining the difference between mapping and modelling can be problematic through online research alone. There seem to be various different opinions, with some people saying there is an overlap, while others insist they have different goals and are not interchangeable.
It is correct that they are not the same as they are two separate approaches, however, they are both closely aligned. One should be seen as an extension of the other.
In business process mapping the task is to define exactly what a business does, who is responsible, and what the standard way to judge a business process is. Business process modelling, however, defers because it is more focused on the optimisation of business processes.
Although both activities create a graphical representation which ultimately improves business processes, modelling incorporates business and economic rules, while mapping is more directed towards clarifying roles and procedures.
Business process mapping is a vital element to having a proficient running company. The visual picture of how the process operates in your business leaves the employees with no doubt what the best practices are and what is expected. If mapping is not used to clearly define a process, individuals and departments are left with the task of creating their own sequences. Often, leading to disorder, misunderstandings, mistakes and blame when things go wrong.
Role clarity (RACI) identifying roles and responsibilities – Providing a clear visualisation of the responsibilities within a task shows who’s in control of what for each step of a process.
Business process improvement & problem-solving – Help locate and find the source of problems. The visualisation displays the entire process which led up to the difficulty, making it easier to detect exactly when, and where things started to go wrong.
Help in Training – Process Maps show how processes work in a simple step by step approach to defining and explaining how a task should be performed. By establishing a single way that a task has to be completed prevents any ad hoc personal variations being passed on from person to person. Trainees can refer back to the maps for guidance rather than needing to seek and refer to someone else on the team.
Internal audit – Improve your business operations while monitoring any weaknesses identified and clarify internal control processes are operating effectively.
Compliance and Risk Management –Legal, and health and safety problems might be spotted early by implementing a process map. It can also become evidence to show your compliance to regulatory standards.
Process / Workflow Clarification & Development of Best Practices –Once process mapping is introduced to a business, and a process is mapped and suitably enhanced, the map can then be shared, and used by other departments that have the same tasks. This will bring a standard operating procedure of quality across the business.
Business Overview Giving a bigger picture – It is easy for staff to occasionally lose sight of the big picture the business is trying to achieve. Process mapping can help all employees understand the bigger picture and get engaged with the vision and the process needed to achieve it.
Business Process Mapping is a standard technique to design, manage, and enhance many business processes, with the principal purpose of constantly developing operational effectiveness throughout the various departments within the business.
Here are some ways for help increase productivity using process maps.
Utilise Process Mapping software – Utilising software to produce your processes, you are missing out on a significant chance to increase productivity.
Concentration on Process Automation – Business process automation is a series of automated steps and rules that will improve everyday processes and allow the process to run as straight forward as possible so saving time and money.
Create a process library – A reference library detailing breakdown of all your businesses workflows, business processes and standard operating procedures. Makes processes easy to find and even easier to follow by creating a business process library
Keep Designs Simple –For team members to follow any process, that process needs to be simple. This is even truer when considering new staff members and training.
Link Processes to Strategic Targets –Linking your process to business goals can help you stress the value and positive impact of processes. Having strong links between your diagrams and business goals can also motivate managers to ensure maps are serving their purpose.
Assist and Enable Team Collaboration –Listen to employee feedback from those who are using the process maps on a day-to-day basis is vital. Work together with them to detect prospects for improvement.
Establish Processes for Continuous Improvement -Continuous improvement is only possible with free and truthful communication amongst the entire team. Utilise a host of communication methods to include as many employees as possible. Recognise process improvement supporters and empower them to keep and focus interest amongst the employees.
Hopefully this article has provided you with a practical guide to Business Process Mapping. You now know what it is, how to implement it, and how to really maximise its benefits within your business. Go ahead, and give it a try, feel free to let us know how it goes.