A business is a complex beast. It has many different moving systems that work together—much like an ecosystem—to deliver a successful product to the customer. When you’re an owner or manager, it can be tough to keep track of every department and sector of a business yourself. It can be even more challenging to keep track of every work process and role that is necessary to keep each department functioning.
Your business may not be running as efficiently as possible. Especially if you don’t understand the complex flow of your business processes or how to make sure these systems continue working smoothly. Business process mapping can help you take on this often-arduous management task. This article will explore the concept of business process mapping, and help you understand how to use this technique in your business.
Understanding Business Process Mapping
To develop consistency and offer your product or service at the highest possible quality level you need to create blueprints of work that ensure consistency and quality. These blueprints are also called process maps. Making many process maps for your company is called business process mapping.
Business process mapping ends up being a large-scale task, often made into a more easily read visual flow-chart. It describes every step of production, from procuring resources to product or service delivery. This eventual document should make sure that each process is functioning to deliver the service and is not superfluous.
Once the business process map is made, you can begin to see how you can change, reorganize, or update your processes to make your workplace more effective over time. But how do you make a business process map?
The First Steps of Business Process Mapping
There are several things to understand about process mapping before you begin. There are some questions you should ask about your processes as you make a process map. These questions will help you ensure that all the necessary aspects of production are captured in the chart.
What are the required tasks?
This first question identifies the individual steps that are necessary for process completion. Each step should be written so that the flow of processes is accurately mirrored in the process map.
Who is responsible for these tasks?
Take stock of all roles that are necessary to complete the task of this process. This person should be trained to take on the responsibilities of this task, while also knowing that they will be the one accountable if the process fails to be productive.
When are these tasks done?
Your map should describe how long it takes to execute a process without conceding any quality. It should also be noted when during the process the task is done. This will later ensure that the workflow is natural and that the process is easy to replicate.
After addressing these queries, you should also decide upon a framework. A framework will serve as the starting point of every process map you make moving forward. An effective framework will become an effective process map for your workplace later on. This framework will help create a workflow that will withstand the rigorous needs of a working business.
Choosing the best framework then is essential to writing a process map. The next section will delve into the many kinds of process map formats and frameworks you can use for your business.
Exploring Types of Business Process Maps
Before you begin your business process mapping, it’s best to understand all the different types of process maps. Then you can use the one that best fits the work processes of your business.
A process flowchart is a common type of chart used in all sorts of industries to display workflow. They can be easily created in nearly any word processing software or by hand. Plus, they accurately show how one task moves to the next and feedback into the cycle. However, this kind of chart is often lacking in providing task accountability. They are also not very flexible, and it can be difficult to adapt a flowchart to a complex production method.
The swimlane diagram is similar to the generic flowchart as described above. There is one major difference that makes the swimlane stand out from the flowchart, though. The swimlane is a flowchart, but it also makes sure that each step in the flow chart is designated to a specific department of an organization, allowing for more accountability. This format is best for simple processes.
Value Stream Map
A value stream map is another framework you can use, though it is less commonly implemented than other process frameworks. The value stream map is more difficult to analyze just by looking at it, as the format is often busy. It’s most often applied in lean six sigma applications. The value stream map may be difficult to comprehend and should not be used for simple processes as it’s difficult to read. However, it is excellent at giving a deeper look at a single process.
SIPOC is a kind of diagram that fits work processes into a series of categories that it is named after. SIPOC stands for supplier, inputs, processes, outputs, and customers.
This is not a very visually engaging map, but it does offer an extremely simplified form that directly sorts processes into the categories they belong in, which effectively communicates the roles and responsibilities of processes. However, it is not very good at describing individual tasks in a work process. It is excellent for overviewing essential information and identifying the tasks that must be done for process completion.
There are also many applications available online that can offer a diverse array of business process mapping services. These applications and software can be worth an investment because they don’t only create a static map that employees and management can refer to. They make an ongoing map. These applications can keep track of processes as they happen. This not only allows for effective process mapping but also continuous process organization.
Never feel limited by what is readily available online for format options. You can also choose to take different parts of these example process maps and make them into a new framework. Configure a map that will be most effective for your business without excess steps that your company does not need.
Benefits of Business Process Mapping
By implementing process mapping, you offer your business–and your customers—many benefits.
For your workplace, there are a variety of ways that process mapping makes a more effective workplace. The process map can help your employees understand their roles and responsibilities. When a workforce becomes confused about who is responsible for a specific duty it can remain undone and affect the process later in lines of development. A process map helps identify responsibilities, and avoid confusion.
Solve Problems More Efficiently
This benefit extends to problem-solving. It can be easy to see a problem, but harder to understand why a problem has occurred. A work process map can help you identify the root of issues and address them so that they are less likely to occur again in the future.
Risk is also mitigated by a well-made work process map. With a process map, you can ensure that every part of your business works in compliance with any government regulations that you must follow. And your complaint process map can be used as evidence of compliance if your company is ever inspected. Making sure you are regulation compliant can also help prevent workplace injuries or fines.
Perform at the Highest Level
Once you’ve found, mapped, and tested a process map, this map can be used in other parts of your business to increase efficacy and productivity overall. This can also bring uniformity and consistency to work processes all across your business. Process mapping can help uncover a series of best practices for your business. It can also help you understand what does not work in your business. It is then easier to narrow down and understand what parts of the process are not working and address those issues.
Capture the Bigger Picture
As a business grows, it can be easy to forget to empower the individuals and find that employee satisfaction decreases. You may begin to lose sight of your purpose as a business as you grow in size and manage many employees. By having a work process map, you can ensure that your company always maintains an inner vision. This makes your products better, which creates satisfied customers and makes work more meaningful to employees.
Using Business Process Mapping
Once you begin understanding the purpose of a business process map and how it can be used in your business to increase efficiency, you understand how to make your product more consistent and make your customers happier. Happy customers offer repeat business and will share their good experiences, increasing your profits. Enjoy the benefits of business process mapping as you get a handle on your business and stand out from your competition.