Why do we map processes?

Why should you bother mapping processes? Without this crucial step a project or programme is at risk of falling apart. It all starts with Process Discovery – the key to a successful process map….

Let’s start with the basics; processes are mapped to help understand how things work today, or to design how things should work in the future. A process flow chart provides a visual representation of a set of activities and outcomes. These are often difficult to read in a text format. It’s especially useful where a process has multiple pathways, where different things happen in parallel, or different events can trigger different sets of activities.

Typically processes are mapped as part of projects or programmes such as:

  • Systems implementation
  • Standardisation
  • Compliance
  • Continuous Improvement

A good process will show the key activities, the outcomes and the roles that are responsible for those activities. More detailed processes can also include; responsibilities (e.g. RACI), systems, requirements, risks, issues and control points among others.

Need to know more about Process Mapping? Read our guide here

Process helps us understand how something works, or how we want it to work, but what exactly does it help us understand? What should you be looking out for when capturing a process? It breaks down into three things:

  • Alignment
  • Opportunity
  • Constraints

Understanding each of these will help ensure you get the most out of any process mapping exercise in the future.

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Alignment

When capturing a current process, understanding how things work today, it’s important to ensure everyone is aligned. The team who do the process must all agree on how it is done. If it is done differently by different people, then you need to understand why it’s done differently and what the impact is.

This ensures that everyone is talking the same language early on and has the same understanding. They comprehend the problems they currently face, how they describe them and any future benefits to fixing it.

It’s vital to get alignment early, get everyone onboard, and keep everyone aligned by referring back to the processes throughout the project.

Opportunity

Looking at any process is a chance to improve it. It could be reducing cost, removing unnecessary steps, simplifying, reducing risk, speeding it up or any number of other things. When subject matter experts get together to map out a process visualisation, and create that common language it is much easier to talk about improvements.

Therefore the team needs to ask itself what the opportunities for improvement are. These could be very general, such as simply removing waste from the process, or more focused such as identifying specific parts of the process that can be automated by a system.

In large and strategic change programmes, opportunities should be looked at through the lens of the programme objectives. What improvements can be made to help achieve those targets?

Constraints

Whatever change you intend to make must be made within the constraints of the business. Some constraints will be more obvious than others, for example, time, budget and resources. It is process discovery, that is the discussion, visualisation and documenting of the process, that helps to reveal the hidden constraints that could trip the project up later on.

These could be anything that prevents the change being a success if not managed correctly. Issues and risks are the most common. A change may be held up simply if standards and compliance requirements impact an individual step. In discovery workshops you discuss the non functional requirements such as security or usability which are essential to success.

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Summary

Process mapping, and process discovery, are the key enablers to change of any kind, whether implementing standard ways of working or completely transforming how things get done. Process mapping ensures that you get alignment among the team, identify the opportunities for improvement and understand the constraints that could prevent you from achieving the desired outcome. Make sure with any discovery session you have considered these three dimensions effectively before moving on.

Need more help mapping processes? Try Skore’s Digital Discovery platform, it enables you to capture processes at the speed of conversation through live workshops and manage the data. Click here to find out more about our process discovery, improvements and analysis software and  simplify the complexity of your organisation. 

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