Basic Concepts: Process Mapping
Every time I write a “basic concepts” post, I try to explain things as clearly as possible – in a way that everyone could understand – and I end up learning a lot about what I’m writing. That’s exactly what happened writing about process mapping – even though I work for a company that offers a tool to help you organize and optimize your processes, I was still a little confused about what process mapping actually meant.
Sure, we’ve all heard about flowcharts and “drawing” processes without actually saying we were doing so – if you’ve ever planned ahead on your activities by clearly stating the steps and actions of your processes (it doesn’t even need to have been on a flowchart), congratulations, you’ve mapped a process without realising it. Let’s take a step backwards then and start by learning…
What is process mapping?
Process mapping is developing yourself a workflow diagram with the goal of achieving a clearer understanding on how a process – or many processes that interact – actually work. Mapping your processes, therefore, can be defined as the series of activities necessary to:
- Define what a company/business does;
- Who is responsible for what in the processes;
- What determines the completion of a process;
- What determines the success of a process;
What you get from doing so? Well, most businesses decide to go for process mapping because it’s an important tool to improve efficiency. Having a clear and defined process map – or diagram, if it suits you best – allow you to look at the processes “from the outside”. It also helps whenever you hire consultants to evaluate your processes and help you decide on making improvements on what you currently have.
Business process mapping also allows you to pick a specific objective and measure, track and compare this specific point alongside your business’ overall objective – by doing so, you’re able to determine whether a specific process is aligned with the company’s general goals and capabilities.
How do I start mapping my processes?
Process mapping has become a lot more popular and understood in the overall business world over the past decade. This new understanding and popularisation have made it possible to use process maps in a whole new range of activities in your business – and also in your life.
To make your understanding a little easier, here are four important steps when mapping a process (also, stay tuned for tomorrow’s step by step post to process mapping):
- Identify the process: Of course the first stepping in mapping a process is taking an objective look at it and trying to fully understand all its steps;
- Gather information: Now you know what a process does and how it does it, let’s take a look at why it does it (objectives), what can go wrong with it (risks) and how you can measure it (key controls);
- Interview: Remember all the questions you’ve answered on the previous step? Now it’s time to get in touch with those that actually use the process and start building a map.
- Analyse: Take an objective look at the process you’ve mapped and ask whether it could be more effective and efficient and what tools you could use to make it that way.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, a step by step guide to help you map your processes!
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