Any organisation seeking to streamline and optimise their operations and improve on its processes needs to ensure that they are not difficult to read.
Not just to experts, but to entire teams that are involved or need to know about these processes.
If your business process map is difficult to read, it will only cause confusion and grief further down the line: stunting business growth, affecting company morale, and prohibiting you from improving and maintaining a quality product or service for clients.
To avoid this, we’ve put together a list of four ways your business processes may be difficult to read for your organisation, so you can keep an eye out and make changes where necessary..
An all too common issue when mapping out business processes is the lack of standard notation.
Historically when processes were mapped out by hand, it would be difficult for employees to revisit processes drawn out by previous team members as they would each write them out with their own shorthand. This would leave a lot open to interpretation, causing processes to never be captured as they actually were or duplicated successfully.
There may have been some excuse for that. Yet even with computers, this can be tricky. For example by using a flowchart for your process management – you need to be in agreement on what each symbol you use means, or how you expect the flowchart to be read. Without a standardised notation, it is very easy for information to be lost over time, and for different interpretations to arise – from stakeholders to employees.
So at Skore we’ve taken it down to basics by relying on Universal Process Notation (UPN), a simplified notation that allows no room for miscommunication or misinterpretation. By paring notation down in this way, we ensure that all process maps can be easily read by all members of the organisation, ensuring the knowledge is kept and passed on as employees or stakeholders come and go.
It makes continuous improvement possible, as processes continuously can be edited to show how they are actually being performed and understood by all relevant parties. When it is time to study them for improvement, there is no need to double-check nor is there any doubt as to what steps you can take to improve on your existing tactics to achieve your strategic goals.
Another issue you may be running into with your business process maps is that they are too technical. If you utilise Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN), then this is definitely something you may be running into.
BPMN has its own set of rules, symbols, and meanings to bridge the gap between process design and implementation. There is a governing body in charge of disseminating this information, the Object Management Consortium. This used to be your best bet at having a standardised process notation and is in fact still championed by many business analysts.
After all, there was an overseeing body and this helped avoid any miscommunication.
The problem is the level of technicality required to understand BPMN. From notation-specific certifications to 538 pages of information to understand the symbols and their meanings, this type of notation is difficult to grasp for those not in the know.
And many of the people that interact with the process daily will not be trained in such detail. Stakeholders who need to study the process to make decisions or employees who need to train or consult it or may have suggestions for improvement cannot do this either as it is too complicated for them.
While BPMN may work for very specialised industries or cases, it is best for your notation to be easy to understand to everyone at once, and for that, it needs to be simple and not overly technical. It’s another reason why we champion UPN over BPMN here at Skore.
Too Much or Not Enough Details
You may also run into an issue when it comes to the amount of detail you can share on a process map. If you are using flowcharts or swim lane diagrams, there is a finite amount of information you can successfully add to the map before overcrowding it.
On the other hand, it is very common for people to be so fearful of overcrowding the map, that they do not provide enough information for the map to be truly useful.
The key here is to narrow down the important information to be seen at a glance – at Skore, we focus on answering the questions of What? And Who?. The latter is especially important as alternative mapping styles often have problems assigning responsibility, which tend to slow processes considerably and affect business productivity and success. Lets add a link to RACI here
The timeline of events is represented by the diagram itself of boxes one after the other, and within the boxes, we answer both of these questions. After all, these are typically the chore components of any task and thus the most pertinent information to visualize at a basic level.
From here, our tool allows you to attach additional information, such as forms or spreadsheets, or to drill down to processes within processes if needed. This allows a full picture of the events and all the associated information, without overcrowding the map and making it confusing.
Finally Skore takes a hierarchical approach to process mapping, allowing your processes to stay high level and clear whilst enabling you to drill down to the smallest detail with a click of a button. You can find out more about that here
When it comes to creating business process maps, the key is to ensure that they are effective in conveying how your organisation operates. Unfortunately, many companies make the mistake of relying heavily on text when creating these maps, which ends up defeating the purpose entirely and making your business processes difficult to read.
Text-heavy descriptions are not in line with the purpose of process maps, which is to create a visual representation of a process. They do not allow for quick and easy identification of potential issues and can make it difficult for stakeholders to approve necessary changes, as well as for employees to understand what their role and tasks are within the process.
A process map that is too heavy on text will be overcrowded and difficult to understand. Too many unnecessary details provide information overload and can make it easy to miss key aspects of a process.
When creating process maps, it is important to focus on visual representations rather than text-based documentation. Clear and concise boxes, arrows, and flowcharts are an effective way of communicating the necessary information without overwhelming the audience.
In addition to visual representations, it is also essential to consider the audience when creating process maps. For example, if the map is intended for high-level company executives versus front-line employees, the presentation of information may vary.
Ultimately, a well-executed process map should be simple, easy to understand, and effective in conveying the necessary information. By focusing on visual representations and simplifying text-based descriptions, any organisation can create an effective process map that will help drive success and productivity.
Difficult to Read Business Processes are Over.
Process maps work best when they’re pared down to the basics.
It is at this point that all pertinent parties – from employees to stakeholders – can follow along with your business processes and understand them. This results in knowledge retention of how things are run, an easier time training new employees, an understanding of how everyone is contributing to company goals which boosts morale, continuous improvement can be practiced constantly, and stakeholders can sign off a lot quicker.
Because at the end of the day, to make your processes successful, you need the right structure for your needs. Using process management software such as Skore means you can build in and embed that framework into your organisation.
Be on the lookout for the problems we’ve listed in this article when mapping out your business processes, and if you’d like to learn even more about how Skore can help you achieve your process improvement goals then get in touch below.
Let us help you achieve success with healthy processes!