It seems like an obvious task that you should have already completed. But, like many business owners and CEOs it often gets lost in the shuffle of doing work. Having a completed process map can help further refine your business and identify opportunities to grow and improve internally. Whether you have a process started or are starting from scratch, here’s a quick guide to getting started. Once you have a basic process outlined, there are a lot of tools out there to help you design your process for the entire business to refer back to.
What Is Process Mapping?
Let’s rewind a bit and start from the very beginning. What exactly is a process map? It’s a document that clearly outlines every individual’s role and their interaction with the company and customers. It’s an overall view of your organization. Process mapping is key for a company because it helps to define interdependence and the inter-workings of employee relationships.
You’re probably more familiar with process maps than you think. It’s similar to an organization chart in that they often are in the form of a flow chart. However, this is not your typical one layer flow chart, this is an expanded upon flow chart with different sizes, icons, text, and it doesn’t flow top-down. Since it describes the inter-relationships of the company the lines aren’t going to be straight but flow back and forth between different departments and individuals.
How Do I Get Started?
First and foremost, a process mapping exercise is not a quick task. It’s something that requires time and effort on your behalf as well as all of the players involved. When planning your process mapping, be sure to coordinate with the following people to get their input:
- Employees: they’ll fill you in on their day-to-day tasks
- Vendors: what relationship/process do they have in place with your company
- Customers: how is their experience with your current process
- Executives: you’ll want to include their process and day-to-day activities
Once you have all of the key players involved, you’ll want to set aside some days and times to interview the individuals. It is recommended to interview in small groups of 2-3 people and no more than that. If you interview larger groups, you run the risk of social chatter and losing focus of the task at hand.
What do I Need?
Keep it simple. All you’ll need is an area to meet with each group, whether it’s an office or conference room. Have a whiteboard ready to write down the process and post its. You can use the post-its to add in notes, specific tasks or deliverables. You’ll want to make sure the space you’re using is open for a few days. You’ll want to leave your notes on the board to go back, review, and edit as necessary.
Now, it’s important to start off your process mapping by having clearly defined start and end points for your process. This will help keep your team on task and explain how they get from the start to the finish in a clear and concise way.
What do I Ask?
The key points that you’ll want to touch upon during your process mapping interview include:
- Pain points
- What Improvements are Wanted
- Everyday Tasks
- How Task Are Completed
- Who Completes What Task
- Timeline for Completion
- Key Deliverables
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- How Customers are Affected
- What Resources/Tools are Used
You’ll want to keep your questions high-level and allow your employees, customers and vendors fill in their answers as openly as possible. You’ll want to meet with a few of your executives prior to the meeting and identify the exact questions you’ll want to ask. The above questions are a pure guideline to get you started and thinking on the right path.
Ask yourself: What really matters to your business? What areas would you like to improve upon? How can you better serve your end-customer with your process? Are there any hiccups in our process?
After The Process
You’ve taken the time to interview key people throughout the company and have a process outlined on a whiteboard. You can re-create the process with a tool, or create a flow chart in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Now, it’s time to evaluate your process:
- What tasks are being completed / How can we improve
- Who is in charge of completing a task / Who else can do it
- When was the task completed / When could/should it be completed
- When or Where is work wasted / How can we change that
It’s not an easy process and your company won’t be able to change overnight. But, by taking the steps to creating a process map, employees, vendors, customers and even the executive team will have a clear understanding on the inner-workings of your business. You can only improve from here on out, let us know how we can help.