A process is a series of actions that, when taken, achieve a certain result. For example, let’s imagine an employee hiring process. In order to conclude it, it will be necessary to have the description of the position, announce the vacancy, screen resumes, contact candidates by phone, schedule interviews, apply tests, select the ideal candidate, negotiate salary and, finally, get to the contract.
As you can see, a process transforms inputs into outputs. On the one hand, you have a goal, and on the other hand, the steps to achieve it. The example above was about a Human Resources process, but, logically, Process Management applies to all areas of a company.
When we talk about Process Management, we are also dealing with continuous improvement. In other words, remember the example about the employee hiring process? When putting it into practice, imagine that we have noticed some inconsistencies. In this case we should study it to improve it, don’t you agree? It is exactly to talk about process improvement that we invite you today to know more about Process Mapping.
What is Process Mapping?
Process Mapping identifies all the steps, parties involved, objectives, decisions and flow of an existing process. More specifically, Process Mapping:
- Presents the various activities contained in a process;
- Clearly shows how each activity transforms inputs into outputs;
- Describes the flow of work;
- Indicates the decisions that must be made along the flow;
- Demonstrates the interrelationships and interdependencies between the stages of the process.
Business Process Mapping is a great way to make all the necessary steps of a workflow understandable. Through it, all those involved (from managers to employees) get an overview of how the processes are executed, how they can be improved and how many steps are necessary to lead them to the end.
Why map processes?
Peter Drucker said that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. One of the main benefits of Process Mapping is that it allows the company to measure its projects. Using Drucker’s logic: by measuring a process, you will be able to manage it in a much more efficient way and, therefore, improve it.
Still related to the advantages of Process Mapping, imagine you want to make a change in your company product, because you believe it will attract more customers. It just so happens that making a change only for the sake of doing it can end up costing you a lot.
The same happens with your business processes: making changes without really understanding how a process works can result in costs for your business. Process Mapping allows you to understand how and why the process works, making any action much more precise to improve it.
This way, we understand that Process Mapping enables an organization to:
- Measure how efficiently the process is working;
- Gather information to understand where the inefficiencies, bottlenecks and/or waste of the process lie;
- Develop/improve processes to reduce or eliminate inefficiencies, bottlenecks and/or waste.
How to map processes?
Ok, we have understood what Process Mapping is and its importance. Now let’s get to the heart of the matter: where to start?
First of all, it is essential to include everyone involved, because everyone needs to clearly understand what the objectives of the process are, in addition to agreeing on the deadlines and flow activities.
The flowchart can be created manually, but it is recommended to use a Business Process Management (BPM) tool. With this tool, it is much easier to keep track of the time needed to complete a process, find bottlenecks, impose execution patterns with fields or approvals, automate the work, among other functions.
We have listed below the general steps to map your business processes:
Step 1: Understand the process
In order to improve a process, it is necessary to understand the reason for its existence. Ask the following questions:
- What is the importance of this process?
- What is the functionality of this process?
- What goals does it achieve?
- What is the execution time?
- Who benefits from the process?
Step 2: Identify the problem
Where are the bottlenecks or points of inefficiency in the process? In which activities?
Step 3: Set the boundaries
From this stage on, we start working with the process itself:
- Where or when does the process begin?
- Where or when does the process end?
Step 4: Determine and sequence the steps
- Here you can brainstorm all the necessary activities and sequence them.
Step 5: Draw basic flowchart symbols
Each element in a process map is represented by a specific flowchart symbol. Together they represent the Process Mapping symbols:
- Oval symbols show the beginning or end of a process.
- Rectangles indicate an operation or activity that needs to be performed.
- Arrows represent the flow direction.
- Diamonds indicate a point at which a decision should be made. Arrows coming out of a diamond are usually labeled “yes” or “no”. Only one arrow comes out of an activity box.
- Parallelograms show inputs or outputs.
Step 6: Finalize the process flowchart
Questions to be asked in this step:
- Is the process being executed as it should be?
- Are all of them in line with the process map flow?
- Is there anything redundant?
- Is any step missing?
Step 7: Constant monitoring
Process Mapping is about continuous improvement. Therefore, it is essential to keep in mind that processes must be constantly monitored. Whenever the need for improvement is identified, act promptly.
Remember: ensuring the efficiency and productivity of your company is only possible from the moment everyone understands that improvement should be cyclical and continuous.
When business processes are poorly structured, there is no doubt that all the efficiency and effectiveness of a company are compromised. The damages caused by a badly executed process are many, including lack of organization, drop in productivity, demotivated employees, repetition of tasks, among others. And you already know the result of this: waste of time and money.
Try it for 15 days free right now! Or, if you prefer, request a demonstration from our consultants. Count on us to answer all your doubts and help your company!