What Do We Use Process Maps For?

The Benefits of Mapping Work Processes
August 11, 2020
Making Work Visible
September 27, 2020

What Do We Use Process Maps For?

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Coaching a Work Team

There are many reasons for mapping your processes. In this post we’d like to talk about what we use process maps for. A basic process map can have several different uses and all of them are an advantage for any organization. Mostly, they are used for the following reasons:

  • Systems Implementation and Automation
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Standards and Compliance
  • Organization Design
  • Change and Transformation

Systems Implementation and Automation

Many organizations are turning to technology to help streamline their businesses. Before any investment is made in computer systems, an organization must understand exactly how they do certain tasks. By mapping a process first, the organization can understand what the steps are and who does what. A process map will identify repetitive work and then allow the organization to design and build systems that can do the work instead.

Continuous Improvement

If you capture or map a process as part of your continuous improvement program, then you can really help your organization. Capturing a process allows you to find inefficiencies that perhaps you weren’t aware of before. It also helps you identify potential risks and helps you find a way to reduce them.  Using process maps as a baseline allows you to ensure that your organization are using a common language when describing processes. By taking the time to map the process you make sure your company are consistent and rigorous in their approach

Standards and Compliance

Using process discovery means that your organization is making sure that your procedures are consistent and of a high quality. Mapping a process out means you can be certain that you are staying within the rules and regulations required. All organizations need to conform to official standards of some sort within their industry. Process mapping makes sure that your standards are up to scratch. Alternatively, your organization may decide to apply for certification (i.e. ISO 9001) or legally need to ensure business practices fit in with new legal requirements (Sarbanes-Oxley or other statutory requirements).

Organizational Design

If you are looking at your organization and the future, then taking the time to map your processes gives you a distinct advantage. When defining all the important actions you will also identify who is responsible for what and the timeline for completing the actions. This also helps you make sure that the person doing the job is the right person. If you are reorganizing, then this is really critical. Process discovery will ensure that you are able to put the right person in the right part of the organization to deliver the best results.

Change and Transformation

This may also sometimes be referred to as “as is vs should be”. Here there may be two stages to your process mapping. Essentially you need to understand the difference between how things work today and how you want them to work in the future. By capturing your processes, you will understand where the gaps are and what actions are required to move from the current state to the future state.

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 execute faster, affordably and flawlessly. 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.

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