A reference source for new and existing employees - saves time and duplication of effort
When workloads are clearly identified, the individuals know what is expected of them and their colleagues as a team and can identify potential risks more easily
Provides a check on the efficiency of the processes, when they're being mapped - drives out waste
The visual representation highlights any discepancies in the process, any 'cul-de-sacs' or 'dead ends' - drives out more waste
Highlights if every part of the process has an input and an output - if it doesn't, why is it being done?
Helps Governance - documented proof that processes have been developed and referenced.
Retains the knowledge in the organisation when somebody leaves - so tasks that always happened don't suddenly stop when a staff member leaves.
Provides a reference framework, so everyone in the process knows what their role is and where they fit in to the whole - helps inclusiveness and also allows someone in one part of the process (perhaps in another department) to question why something else is being done, if it doesn't look right to them.
People know what's expected of them - an extension of their Job Description
Provides a reference point for external auditors, simplifying and speeding up the auditing process.
Management can review what's happening against the process diagram when staff are stressed or deliverables are delayed.
There may be unidentified 'virtual' processes that could be uncovered and made more efficient through reviewing and mapping.
Managing in a Downturn - How Process Mapping can help
When the economy takes a downturn, budgets are inevitably squeezed. A recruitment freeze may be imposed or headcount reductions, leading to redundancies. The staff that remain find themselves under more pressure to complete their work. This is especially true if they are also required to assist any temps that have arrived, to teach them how to perform their new roles.
Departing staff take all of the knowledge in their heads with them. In many cases, the extent of this knowledge that is lost to the company only becomes apparent when someone realises that something that 'always used to happen' suddenly stops working.
One way to ensure that this doesn't happen in your company is to document your key processes. Having a graphical representation of 'who does what and when' will ensure that you have a reference point for everyone.
This is particularly relevant to Marketing, Sales and Finance departments who may not have their processes documented as formally as their colleagues in Operations.
A simple extract from a process map is shown below. These can be produced in various formats, colour coded or b/w and are not expensive to produce.
Inputs and outputs for each part of the process are identified and key documents can be attached to each task, including images, if required
Each task can be split out in to sub-tasks, with 'drill down' to see the details
This process mapping technique can be applied across an organisation, to individual 'end to end' processes or to simple 'one team' activities. It is a remarkably clear method of visually identifying the key parts of a process, breaking them down in to smaller parts and allocating responsibilities.
When a process is not working properly, for whatever reason, it is a much simpler task to refer to an elegant diagram and get to the root of the issue, rather than trying to understand what is happening without supporting documentation.
Reasons to consider graphically documenting your key processes: