Are your work processes broken or outdated?
If so, your ability to navigate this COVID-19 crisis is seriously hampered. The fallout from COVID-19 has seen companies increase their dependencies on working from home, improving the safety of their work processes, and deliver essential products or services with fewer employees. The need to redesign/redefine your work processes makes process mapping a critical component of success during the pandemic.
Why map work processes?
Many of us think of physical processes when mentioning work processes. Manufacturing production processes are easy to visualize. In labor intensive work, which is most common in administrative and service environments, work processes are not easy to see and understand. Many people may be involved in different parts of the total work process, but few may understand the whole process. In this situation, mapping creates new understanding that is important for improving how we do our jobs and delivering customer value.
What are some of the outcomes from process mapping?
Process maps can lead to a shared understanding among those involved in a process of the steps in the process, its nature, and the intended output. Some of the other positive outcomes from mapping work processes include:
- Visual representation of the steps and flows of the process making communication and understanding about the process much easier
- Tapping the knowledge of everyone who is or has been involved in designing and running the process
- A process map provides documentation of a deliberately designed process. It can be used to demonstrate to stakeholders, customers, or regulatory bodies that your organization employs a systematic approach to process design and fulfills mandated requirements
- Meeting the requirements of standards and certifications like ISO 9001:2015
In this period of uncertainty, it is important that organizations look at the processes that take place inside the organization, as part of work or business.
Don’t let process maps freeze your work processes during this pandemic
There is a tendency for process maps to making process designs more static than they should be. It is tempting to let process to remained unchanged for some time, which is what a lot of organizations are experiencing during this crisis. Process maps should be used as a tool for creating better process insight. The minute you let your process maps represent the official process design truth, you have let the process maps dominate your work processes. A map is the representation of the real world and not the other way around. It is inevitable that work processes will change over time, sometimes slowly and incrementally, sometimes exponentially (during this pandemic as a case in point).
Put the process maps to use
Having put forth the effort to map your processes, make a conscientious attempt to reap the benefits of your hard work. Put the process maps to work for the purposes you defined prior to mapping the work process. Discuss how they will be used, make plans for future projects where they can be utilized and follow up on the mapping exercise, process maps become obsolete very quickly. Above all, implement the changes and improvements.
COVID-19 has disrupted how most organizations provide products or services. They must redesign how work gets done. Broken or outdated process represent an opportunity to proactively refine and optimize their work processes to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and manage uncertainty.
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 this period of uncertainty. In addition to his consulting practice, he is on the adjunct faculty at Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL.