Nobody would walk straight into the middle of a forest with no map and expect to be able to find their way out. Yet when it comes to carrying out business operations, too many businesses scratch their heads about why they’re not achieving fantastic results with 100% efficiency without taking the time to analyze what’s really going on. This is where process mapping comes in and can yield fantastic results when approached correctly.
After all, you need to map your current state to know where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. Let’s explain how you can do exactly that.
What is process mapping?
Process mapping is essentially a visualization of how your business functions, in the form of a diagram or document. You’ll need to break down your company's core processes into different activities. For instance, after a customer makes a purchase, it might trigger the sales team to review and confirm the order, before the operations team handles the admin, and finally, the fulfillment team sends the order off.
Most businesses will have multiple processes to log across different aspects of their business, but you only need to focus on one at a time.
Why process mapping matters
Once you have a clear idea of what really happens in your organization, it’s easier to figure out areas where things could go wrong, where risk is greater, or where you could make simplifications. For instance, you might realize that instead of the sales team manually reviewing orders, you could outsource this to technology to automate everything.
Process mapping can also be a useful tool when you’re trying to introduce a new business process, such as upgrading technology or launching a new product.
How to start process mapping
Process mapping can look slightly different depending on the area you’re focusing on and the type of process map you want to create. However, there are a few basic steps to follow that apply in most cases.
Get everyone involved
Process mapping isn’t something that can be implemented from the top down. Everyone involved in a process should be a part of creating a process map to ensure that nothing is missed out. After all, this is about creating a realistic view of what your process looks like right now — not an idealized view of what you wish they looked like.
If you’re creating a process map for a new process, you’ll also want to get a few experts to help so you can make the proposed system as effective as possible.
Fill in the basics
Kickstart things by figuring out the start and end of the process, which are usually the easiest part. Then, the sequences that come in between should come easier, and you can begin to flesh out a more realistic portrayal.
You can use specialized software if you’re worried about how to create a process map.
Add in the details
Once you have the basics covered, you can move on to the smaller details, which are often crucial for success. What are the inputs and the outputs? Are there any stakeholders involved? Which metrics are you measuring?
Seek out feedback
Once you’ve finished your process map, you may want to get third-party experts involved so they can analyze your processes, figure out what’s going wrong, and make suggestions for improvements.
Or, if you’re using a process map to implement a new system, you might ask for feedback from your workforce about whether they think the proposed changes are feasible.
Once you’re finished, it’s time to start testing out these optimizations and possibly amending them along the way (depending on the results).
Time to pull it all together
Hopefully, having a better understanding of what process mapping is has inspired you to get started. But sometimes, it can be tough to make the step alone — especially if you have to learn an entirely new toolset from scratch. That’s why many businesses find it preferable to enlist help from a third party.
At Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, we’ve helped countless clients to build a process map and improve their operations so they can boost productivity and save money. To find out more, book a consultation today.
About the author:
Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, LLC is an industry-agnostic global business operations consulting firm, that goes beyond the symptoms to get to the root cause of your business issues.