It’s near impossible for a business to improve when there isn’t clarity about who is doing what and—importantly— how they’re doing it. To gain a more detailed view of the way internal processes function, many businesses undertake a practice known as process mapping. This involves each individual process being examined and all steps and interdependencies documented.
Business process mapping is designed to represent all workflows in a visual manner. It makes it much easier to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, redundancies, and repetition that can be removed.
There are a range of different approaches that can be taken, from simple hand-drawn flow charts through to highly sophisticated software packages.
However, although carrying out such an activity can lead to significant benefits, the thought of it can actually be overwhelming. Rather than focusing on what can’t be done, commit to making a start—no matter how small—to embark on your process improvement journey.
Significant benefits on offer
While it will certainly require time and effort, creating a map of all the processes within a business can deliver widespread value. The top seven benefits include:
Standardisation of existing processes:
By completing a process mapping project, anyone can review the process map to learn what they are meant to do next. This cuts out discrepancies and encourages best-practice methodologies throughout the organisation.
Improvement of employee onboarding:
Perhaps the most time-consuming part of joining a new company is learning how processes work, who to go to for help, which departments are responsible for what, and how the chain of command works. Effective process mapping provides accessible and visual information on where each department slots in, and who oversees different processes. This can significantly reduce the learning curve.
Once all core processes have been fully mapped out, it’s much easier to analyse and pinpoint problems that may have previously been too vague to tackle. Teams can then develop a plan for constant improvement and cut out any steps that have become obsolete or that are unnecessary. For example, the finance team might realise that supplier invoice payments currently require three approvals. They decide to eliminate two of those approvals and get invoices paid faster.
Identifying scope for automation:
When you can see a process laid out in front of you, and can readily assess how each stage is being carried out, it’s easier to see which parts of the process could easily be automated. For example, each time a customer makes a new purchase on the company website, the eCommerce team might have to copy and paste the order into a different inventory system. By being aware of this unnecessary manual step, it’s much easier to automate it.
Strengthening customer-facing roles:
When sales, customer success, and support have a clearly defined process map to follow, they spend less time thinking about the processes themselves. Instead, they can focus on delivering exceptional service with confidence, knowing that they are following the correct protocol. The sales team knows that, if a customer has requested more information about some products, they can quickly determine which brochures, eBooks, or technical documents to send, and where they’re stored.
Creating a personalised experience:
By mapping out different customer journeys, it’s possible to create experiences that are personalised for each type of customer, yet which are still standardised across the business.
Knowing exactly how much of the business’s resources are consumed in each stage of a process, and how many employees are required, means that operation can be scaled up in a more logical manner. For example, a company might need to hire thousands of new employees to cover a pre-Christmas rush. Usually, this would require lots of manual work and occupy the HR department for weeks or even months. However, if processes such as posting job ads online and reviewing applications can be automated, much of this additional effort can be avoided.
Effective process mapping has many benefits to offer organisations of all sizes. Consider the difference it could make within your business when you know exactly who is doing what, and how they’re executing on your business’s strategy.