There are so many advantages to mapping your work processes. One of the most powerful benefits of mapping your work processes can lead to: a shared understanding among those involved in a process (receiving outputs from it, or providing inputs to it) of the steps in the process, its nature and what it is intended to produce. This a key reason why your organization should be investing in process mapping. Some of the other benefits of mapping work processes are:
Gives you the ‘big picture’
By taking the time to capture your process you are producing a snapshot of how your organization works. Sometimes you can be surprised by what goes on that certain departments didn’t even know about.
Process discovery allows you to collect information about your organization that can be vital. Anything from costs, risks, time taken to achieve a task, time lost, bottlenecks, requirements, systems used – the list is endless.
Share in a common language
Mapping a process means that everyone gets to learn how something is done and should be done. It also means that everyone then knows the score. The organization is aligned in their way of thinking and doing.
Starting point for strategic knowledge
Mapping a process means that your organization is ready to launch a project or change program. Process mapping allows change to happen and happen successfully. Often effective process mapping will shape how an organization makes decisions and change objectives.
Taking the time to map processes also means that teams have the chance to look at the way they do things and challenge if they are correct. They may also discover there is a quicker or cheaper way to do things, learn where there is repetition and think of new ways to improve customer experience. Process mapping allows everyone to assess their processes and think of the best ways to do something. This will mean greater levels of service for all.
Mapping a process should never be a short-term goal. Process mapping is something that should be continuous. Once an organization has mapped a process, they should be able to share it with everyone. A process should be reviewed and updated. If it is it can be an excellent training and induction tool for any employee to use. Process maps can be stored online or in the cloud easily and in an easy to read format making it effortless for employees.
A word of caution is also in order, while process maps are useful tools in many different contexts of an organization, I must point out that the process of creating the map is equally important. It is the shared experience of a group working out the steps of the process, how they are sequenced, what they produce, and generally ironing out the kinks in the process that creates a mutual understanding of it. In other words, process maps should never be created in a vacuum just to get it done, but should bring all the relevant parties together to really capture the process.
Willie Carter has nearly four decades of continuous process improvement experience, which have enabled him be a good listener, teacher, coach and leader as he helps organizations do more with less and become more agile. In addition to his consulting practice, he is on the adjunct faculty at Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL. You can learn more about Lean-Agile business process improvement here.