6 Steps to Successful Business Process Mapping
Before you’re able to generate quality leads, you have to plan out the business processes behind the operation. Not familiar with business process mapping? Here’s a quick recap.
Why Do You Need a Business Process Map?
Business process mapping is a simple idea that helps solve difficult problems. It was developed in the 1920s. Even though some things have changed about the methodology, the core idea lives on today.
This idea is very simple. In order to improve your business, you have to understand how each component of the business works. To do that, you have to find the process and document everything about it.
Now, you can analyze and improve it.
The obvious answer to the question of why do you need to do business process mapping is to improve your business. You will only have the insights into how your business underperforms if you give it a considerable level of scrutiny.
Once you understand what’s wrong with the process, you can change the workflow of your employees in the HR software, and spread the knowledge.
If you have a lot of complicated processes your employees need to follow, having simple business process maps is a great way to instruct newcomers. They will have an easier time adapting with a cheat sheet.
Another bonus that business process mapping gives you is ISO 9001 compliance. The whole standard is very process oriented, so you need to create solid business process maps to comply.
So, how do you do this?
Check out the six steps at a glance.
- Learn the Lingo
- Describe the process
- Break the process down
- Map the process
Now, let’s jump to the detailed and actual part.
Learn the Lingo
Since the system was developed in the 1920s, there have been some major changes to it. This doesn’t mean the original notations are gone. Rather, this means there are new ways of placing business process mapping into the visual medium.
The BMPN system developed by Object Management Systems is rather difficult. Here are the types of events in this notation system.
There’s also a simplified version of business process mapping that doesn’t require you to use dozens of symbols to indicate things. Instead, you use a handful of basic symbols and write text over them.
This is much simpler to use, especially if you’re using the flowchart for instructional purposes.
The type of transcription doesn’t matter for internal use. You should only be concerned with it if you need it for compliance with certain laws. You only need to understand the key definitions.
A process is a chain of actions that are initiated by an event and has one or multiple endings. Events are shown by either a circle or a rounded rectangle. Each process contains activities, drawn as rectangles.
These are chunks of workflow that lead to the end of the process. Between activities, there are gateways or decisions. They are drawn as diamonds.
These are the basics of the process. Now, let’s get to the business process map creation.
Describe the Process
This is arguably the most important step in the whole process. If you fail to distinguish between processes, all the work you do afterward is in vain.
You may map any process in your company, external or internal. It may be connected to the creation of goods and services for your customer or hiring new employees. Whatever it is, if it’s either causing problems now or may in the future, you have to plan it out.
Start with choosing the process and describing it in terms of the inputs and outputs. The inputs are the ingredients you need to do the task. Some people include resources here, some make them a separate list. The same goes for controls. If you want them separate, include things that restrict the process.
The outputs are the products or services the process creates. Here’s a definition chart for reference.
Break the Process Down
Now that you’ve chosen the process to map, you have to gain knowledge about it. Here’s what questions you should answer.
- Why does this process start?
- What are the basic steps of the process?
- Who are the people behind the process?
- What decisions do they make?
- What can go wrong?
To do this, you have to interview the people who make this process happen. Do not conduct interviews with many people at once, as they will change their answers based on the answer of the one who speaks first or has more authority. Also, do not forget to talk to the people who do the tasks, not just their managers.
After this, and brainstorming, you will be able to break down the process you want to map into actions and decisions.
Time to Map the Process
The only thing you have left to do is putting the process on paper. The main thing you have to be aware of is connecting the right chunks of a process. For instance, if a particular decision means you have to start over, the flow arrow should point back to the first action, not to the previous one.
Here’s an example of the coffee brewing process.
Identify and Analyze the Situations
Now, you should have an idea about the process you’re dealing with. Investigate the way this process is happening in real life, and find areas for improvement. In some cases, you can do this without going out of the office, as there’s an inherent flaw in the process itself.
However, sometimes, the problem is that your employees do not follow the process. There may be a dealy because someone doesn’t sign a document, or because a shipment of the key product doesn’t arrive in time.
Whatever it is, you have to identify it.
And Finally, Implement!
Do you know what is causing the problem with the process? Experiment with the solution you have in mind, and if it proves successful, implement it across the company.
It doesn’t have to be limited to processes that are carried out by employees: these kinds of processes can also run in an automated fashion as in this email marketing example.
Over to You
You don’t need the software or a team of third-party analytics to create a business process map. All you need is a sharp mind, a good team, and some theory you got from this article.
However, if you don’t feel like your work will cut it for the success of your company, getting some third-party help is not something to be afraid of.
As you are managing your business through a dedicated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, its high time to prepare a map to get the best output of your ERP software.
If you are not operating your business with an ERP solution yet for your WordPress, then you can go ahead & give WP ERP a shot.