All organisations understand, on some level, the importance of documenting business processes. As the business grows, this need becomes more critical.
While systems like Google Drive, SharePoint, Excel, Dropbox and other unstructured documents and files can suffice for simple activities – e.g. documenting a checklist – these methods prove wildly ineffective when applied to projects that will impact current ways of working. If your processes need to be assessed to determine the efficacy of each process and how it interacts with another, your documentation methods will certainly need an upgrade.
What is Business Process Mapping
Business process mapping has been around for decades. It can be traced back to the 1920s and ’30s. As the name indicates, business process mapping is simply the process of documenting your business processes to make a map of how your organisation operates.
Organisations often undertake process mapping exercises as a key enabler for a particular outcome, whether that be improved regulatory compliance, more predictable systems implementations, efficiency savings and so on. In more recent years, Transformation programmes have further driven the demand for processes to be mapped, with organisations recognising that understanding how they work today is a critical pre-cursor to making significant change.
Done well, business process mapping allows you to spot weak links and predict challenges that may occur in projects. It also enables smooth digital transformation, giving you a comprehensive look at how your departments work and how they could work better together, digitally.
Business process mapping has suffered from a lack of appreciation by some, who see it as an unnecessary, time-consuming activity. This is due in part to the traditional approach, which is slow and painful. One company shared that their colleagues booked holiday days and pulled sick days just to avoid process workshops. “Why should we spend so much time mapping our processes? We just want to crack on and deliver the expected benefits of the project?” It’s more difficult to argue the case for process mapping when just armed with a roll of brown paper and some sticky notes or a whiteboard and pens. But with business processes able to be mapped online in real-time and easily visualised by colleagues during workshops, business process mapping is in vogue. And the value can be delivered through these three phases:
- Discover – how your current business processes operate today
- Design – your business processes to achieve your vision for the future
- Deploy – your business processes to realise and sustain your benefits
Not all Business Process Mapping methods are equal
It’s worth highlighting that most business process practitioners still follow the traditional approach to business process mapping today. In this form, someone runs a workshop, draws the process flows on sheets of brown paper or on a whiteboard. At the end, the brown paper is rolled or the whiteboard is photographed, and someone has the unenviable task of converting it into an electronic format. If you’re lucky, you might get access to a Visio diagram a few days or weeks later.
One FTSE-100 company showed us their process management system, which was a collection of large boxes in the corner of the office, full of rolled-up brown paper with sticky notes, which they hadn’t had the time to convert and share with colleagues.
This is the process everyone hates – for a good reason.
While the principle is the same, business process mapping is meant to be about making processes easier. Doubling up on documenting the process is not an improvement in efficiency. It’s an extra boring and time-wasting job that creates a barrier to achieving the substantial benefits which having business process mapping fully adopted enables.
The Benefit of Real-Time Business Process Mapping
If you’re undertaking a business process mapping exercise, make sure you work with consultants, like PACE, that do this in real-time, digitally.
Understanding that businesses are time poor and the enthusiasm created in meetings can quickly evaporate when work has to be done afterwards, we have designed an approach to capture business processes in expertly facilitated process workshops, live at the speed of conversation. The processes and associated information are captured in real-time on a digital platform. Your team share their knowledge and see this being captured as the process content is being built. After the workshop, they have immediate access to the agreed content and feel a real sense of collaboration and ownership for the valuable asset they have jointly created – no waiting on some poor staff member to compile the meeting notes or convert the information captured sometime later.
Capturing business processes live at the speed of conversation in face-to-face or online workshops typically reduces the time to get your business processes mapped and agreed upon by around 70%. Time is money, and we save you both.
What’s more, if you get your business process mapping right, it’s the enterprise asset that just keeps on delivering value as it’s available to give you ongoing insights, to be reused and revisited over and over again.
Who uses Business Process Mapping?
Here at PACE, we have facilitated business process mapping for the likes of Loughton Contracts, HFW, Above and one of the global leaders in market research for animal health and agriculture and over the years, our team of experienced process consultants have worked across most, if not all the main business sectors. Everyone needs business process mapping.
Whether you actively need your business processes mapped for an upcoming project, or you want to look for opportunities to improve operational efficiencies proactively, business process mapping is the quiet achiever able to bring you big, data-driven results.
Get in contact with the team at PACE today to learn more about our Business Process Mapping services.