Business process mapping offers a comprehensive and systematic approach to understanding, documenting, and improving the way organisations operate.
Many businesses find themselves engaged with rework or fixing errors. All these things lead to increased costs, declining profits, customer complaints and employee dissatisfaction.
In the past, I have been tasked to reverse these business problems, and I’m always interested in how business processes work. These are often the key to understanding and fixing these issues.
However, many business units think that they are already operating as efficiently as possible. They are unaware of the potential that can be unlocked. But if I told you that business process mapping could reduce your business costs by up to 30%, with just time and effort and little or no cost. What would your reaction be?
By visually representing workflows, decision points, and dependencies, businesses can gain valuable insights into their operations, identify areas for improvement, and streamline their processes effectively.
In this blog, we will delve into ten key ways in which business process mapping can revolutionise operations and pave the way for sustainable growth. From enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing costs to increasing employee engagement and streamlining workflows.
Whether you are a small startup or a large enterprise this article will help you understand why more and more organisations are embracing this methodology to streamline their operations, identify opportunities for growth, and gain a competitive edge in the market.
So, let’s dive in and explore the ten ways business process mapping can drive operational excellence and promote growth.
1. Process Mapping allows you to see the variation within a process and improve response times
Variation occurs when different individuals within a process execute it differently. This can happen when there is a lack of documentation or adherence to the process. As a result, the process becomes more manual and burdened with non-value-added activities. And when issues arise, people tend to come up with complex and reactive workarounds instead of addressing the root cause.
The problem with variation is that it leads to an inconsistent experience for customers.
Let’s say you rent a car from Company A. The first time you return the car, Person 1 quickly handles the process, returns your deposit, and sends you on your way. The second time, you encounter Person 2 who informs you that the car needs an inspection before they can return your deposit. It takes them a long time to find someone for the inspection, keeping you waiting before finally returning your deposit. Why did Person 1 not conduct the inspection like Person 2?
The answer is variation, which ultimately results in a loss of revenue, increased costs, and customer dissatisfaction.
By addressing and minimising variation, companies can enhance the overall efficiency, consistency, and satisfaction of their processes. This can be achieved through proper documentation, standardisation, and continuous improvement efforts.
Ultimately, reducing variation leads to better outcomes for both the business and its customers.
2. Helps identify opportunities to reduce business costs
Of course, if you re-engineer your processes and remove non-value add activity, reduce cycle time and remove waste, then it will take out cost from the business and, more than likely, increase revenue.
It’s an opportunity to identify and reduce handoffs between departments and to cross-skill and multi-skill your teams.
This is a whole topic on its own which I will cover another time. So let’s leave it there and move on to number 3 which is …
3. Process mapping enables training material
How do you train new recruits?
Many organisations sit the recruit with someone who is experienced and able to show them the ropes. But is that experienced person doing it right themselves?
If there is no standardised and signed-off process then how do you train someone? And going back to the car hire example who trains the new recruit? Person 1 or person 2?
So if training is being done by people who have devised their own process, their own way of doing things, then how effective will the training be?
Process mapping captures the current process which is analysed, re-engineered into best practice, documented, signed off and implemented. Procedures are a drill down of those process maps, and those procedures can be used to create training material.
4. Improves customer satisfaction
Process mapping, and subsequent improvement. will increase customer satisfaction by identifying the actions that will remove the defects, the things that go wrong, and need fixing for the customer. These defects can lead to rework and even complaints.
If you reduce non-value activities and tasks you will improve cycle time and reduce costs. And if you reduce costs you can pass these savings onto the customer to make your product or service more competitive.
That’s a win for you and a win for your customer
5. Improves employee satisfaction and engagement
When processes are not documented, and available to employees, then they will have no understanding of how their “bit” of the process impacts the team who are next in line.
And if the processes are inefficient, they impact employees who must deal with rework and are always on the back foot.
I know that may sound extreme but I have seen a lot of friction between teams, each blaming the others for handing them “bad work”
When you map and document the process each employee gains a shared understanding of the work that is done across the whole organisation. It stops people working in silos and gives employees visibility of who does what before them and who does what after.
The process maps give visibility of where feedback loops between the different departments would be useful. This allows an escalation path to be built into the process to highlight when deadlines have been missed, or a service level agreement has been broken.
And of course, with less variation, lower costs, reduced complaints, and improved customer satisfaction it also becomes a nicer place to work, which improves employee engagement.
6. Acts as an enabler for system changes
When you map the processes, and identify the IT systems that support them, it allows you to see potential opportunities for efficiency.
Let me give you an example.
One company gave employees a free mobile phone account. The problem was that when the employee went through onboarding they were given an employee identification number, and their full name was loaded onto the HR system.
But when their mobile phone account was set up the name was not always an exact match to the HR account. Sometimes middle names were missing. Sometimes it was initials and surnames.
This meant that when employees exited the company it required a manual reconciliation between the HR system and the mobile phone account. And because the HR team were busy, this manual reconciliation didn’t take place.
This resulted in the employee still having access to the free mobile service, often for years after they had left the company. When we gathered the data there were over 2000 more mobile phone accounts than there were employees.
Can you imagine how much 2000 mobile phone accounts were costing the company?
The simple fix was to add the employee identification number, from the HR system, to an empty field on the employee’s mobile phone account. This meant that the process was automated, the mobile phone account was closed automatically when the employee left the company and the status was changed on the HR system.
I have also found process maps particularly useful when it comes to an ERP implementation project, as they can save time, and avoid costly mistakes and budget overspending.
7. Process mapping makes it easier to scale your business
It’s hard to scale when you don’t know how your current business is operating. Who does what by when and how many times?
Wanting to grow your business? Then documented processes make it easier.
Overlaying metrics onto your process maps means you will be able to model the impact as you grow
8. Mergers and Acquisitions
Equally after a merger or acquisition, it’s easier for businesses to understand how they can be integrated if the processes are visible and well documented.
And if you decide to sell then it’s easier to sell a business that has control over its processes. Any potential investors can see how well the business is run with supporting processes and data ratifying the results.
9. Allows easier organisational redesign
Once the dust has settled on any cost reduction projects, a set of documented processes will give you visibility of all of your end-to-end processes. More efficient processes tend to require fewer employees. This is your opportunity to redesign your organisation and create the optimum business.
Process mapping, alongside your organisation chart, will help you when merging teams or organisations to reduce handoffs and improve productivity.
As processes are automated and made more efficient then often smaller teams are required and a new operating model can be designed.
10. Process mapping helps identify risk and mitigating actions
Process mapping helps larger firms with compliance and auditing. Cataloguing the processes and overlaying them with the appropriate and associated measures means that you can identify risks and build them into a mitigation plan.
Many large industries have their own regulatory bodies whose requirements and regulations must be complied with. Quality standards such as ISO 9000 will benefit from a documented set of processes when audit time comes around.
I’m hoping that you’re feeling inspired and energised to start process mapping.
As Deming once wrote “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing”
Business Process Transformation Quiz
Discover if your business is ready to embark on a Business Process Transformation journey with this insightful quiz.
Answer the following 12 quick questions to gauge your organisation’s current state and potential need for a Business Process Transformation: