5 Steps to the Perfect Process Map
Process maps exist to help businesses optimise, reduce costs, and improve their existing models.
As such, you want your process map to be as close to perfect as possible. To fully capture how your business handles that particular process.
In this article, we’ll discuss the five critical steps to creating that perfect process map with Skore.
Step 1: Title and Scope
At the start of any mapping session, regardless of if it’s a workshop with multiple participants, or you’re mapping in isolation, you want to make sure you have a specific process in mind. This is why the title is so important. This way you avoid mixing processes that do not fit together, and you realise if you need to create a subprocess or widen the scope.
The scope can change throughout the session or as you begin to map, but the focus should always be on the title of the process. By having it as the title, you can avoid diverging too much into the territory of other processes or processes that are not your current focus or the focus of the session.
You treat it as your north star and remember that you always have to finish this specific process in mind, and everything discussed must match this.
An example can be your payroll process.
Initially, you begin by focusing on how to ensure your employees get paid. But then you run into extenuating circumstances such as leaves of absence or holidays, and you need to create additions to your process or subprocesses to reflect these deviations as well. Otherwise, you will be caught unawares when the time comes.
But everything still corresponds to the overall goal of payroll and ensuring employees are paid.
Without having this set and agreed upon from the very beginning, your session, whether in a group or on your own, will not achieve the overall goal you expected.
Step 2: Activities
Having set the title and scope of the process, it is time to go over the associated activities. By this, we mean the work or steps done in the process to ensure it happens.
With Skore, activities are captured in What boxes. A What box answers the question: what is happening in this step?
The idea with our tool is to start by placing a few boxes on your page. When you do this, Skore itself will begin to ask in each box: what happens here?
We believe starting the canvas with activities makes sense as it involves everyone in the mapping right away.
As humans, we are always happy to share what we do on a daily basis to contribute to the overall goal of the process. And it gets everyone involved and invested in mapping the process to achieve this goal right away.
Remember, activities are always described in the now. It reflects the immediacy and constancy of how the process is being run, and how everyone is currently contributing to it.
Step 3: Outputs
The third step is the outputs of these activities.
Outputs are the outcomes of the What boxes. They can be deliverables or the reason the activity is happening in the first place.
In a workshop, this will typically slow the conversation down a bit. It is easy to describe what you do on a daily basis. It is harder to begin to think about how what you do contributes to the goal of the process and what happens as a result of you completing an activity. Most importantly, answering why they do the activity they do becomes challenging.
Questions to consider asking during the workshop in this step are:
You’ve told me what you do, how do you know when it is finished?
What is the outcome?
Do you deliver a document, a report, that signifies it is finished and that the process moves into the next activity?
This step is as challenging as it is important. It is during this step that improvement opportunities really begin to show.
Challenging your team to understand and explain how what they do contributes to the goal of the process takes time. And it makes everyone truly begin to consider how it might be improved.
Say a member from the customer service department goes over how they onboard new customers. One of the activities they do is complete a form themselves during a call with the customer and independently. During the workshop, members of the sales team reveal that they also send the customer the form to complete. The form is necessary to add them to your customer roster, but doing it three times is taking up precious time for both yourself and your new customer. And it probably comes across as disorganised.
You ask your team, what is the purpose of the form. The answer is to upload them to your customer database, so accounting can invoice them.
Then you review where you can improve the process. First, you should remove the form from the sales team’s responsibilities. Then, allow the customer service team to decide between themselves. Having a call with your new customer and filling it out together to then hand it over to the accounting department is probably best.
But sometimes, a customer may need to do this asynchronously due to personal schedules. You can account for this as well by sending out the form for customers to complete independently if needed.
And, you should only have one form per customer, as opposed to three.
In this way, you’ve improved upon your existing process and received precious time back. Time your sales team can focus on finding new customers and your customer service and accounting teams no longer have to track multiple forms.
Remember, just because this step may take longer, it is no less important. The importance of this step is highlighted in the challenge it presents to your team.
Step 4: Flow & Who Does It?
The fourth step relates to revisiting the process and ensuring that it is in order based on the conversations that took place in the previous step.
You are essentially playing lost and found. Going back through the process is when your team will begin to point out steps or outcomes that were missed. Or where larger steps begin to be broken down into smaller ones, leading to the creation of subprocesses.
In the above example of the form related to Customer Onboarding, a step that may be missed is the creation and quarterly, or yearly, update of the form based on Accounting’s needs. The Sales and Customer Service teams may take the form for granted, but someone must be responsible for creating the blank version that must be filled in.
This activity will come to light while revisiting and reframing the overall process. It can be added to the map as a subprocess that doesn’t affect the visualisation of the overall Customer Onboarding process map.
As you revisit the process, it is also time to answer the question: who is in charge of each activity?
This assigns responsibility visibly to each activity. It becomes easy to track who is responsible for what, and who should be contacted in the case of questions or confusion. Skore will ask you directly which role is responsible for it, being built into our tool: you’ll never forget to include it.
And, focusing on role assignments instead of the names of individuals means it is the knowledge that you keep as a business in your process library. This way when folks move on, you do not forget who is responsible for what, or what the activity that they were responsible for is.
Step 5: What Else?
The final step depends on the context of the process, but here you should attach additional information required for the process.
It is here that supporting information or documents are attached to the different What boxes. In the customer onboarding example we have been using, the accounting form would be one such document.
This step is also when you can capture improvement opportunities.
In the onboarding example, there were a few outcomes we arrived at for improvement. One was having two possible activities for form completion, either via a call with the customer or sending it to the customer directly. During a process mapping session, you would make note of the two possibilities. You can add the two possible activities to your map, either as a subprocess or as additional documentation for the activity. In this way, you account for both possibilities having the same outcome, capturing the flexible solution arrived at during the workshop.
It is also a good opportunity to embellish and tidy up the process overall, ensuring it reads nicely and cleanly for all parties involved.
Ready to make the perfect process map and optimise your business?
Taking your organisation to the next level and doing so successfully is all about knowing how you’re handling your processes.
And as we saw, with Skore, this is easier than ever before. Get in touch to apply these five steps and make the perfect process map for your business with Skore!