We humans are visual creatures, so it stands to reason that to understand processes, we prefer to be able to see them in action, so that we can see exactly how things are done and where things can be improved. This is pretty straightforward in a factory or a production setting, where each machine is operated by one or more individuals and their products are transferred to other machines for additional value-added activities or for packaging, shipping, etc… But how do you do this in a more abstract environment, such as in an office setting? Or how about in purely intellectual conditions where only ideas change hands?
That’s where Process Mapping comes in and it’s such an elegantly simple approach to understanding business activities that it can be applied to any industry. But the most important aspect of Process Mapping is not its versatility or that it can be a great team-building exercise, but the fact that it has many, almost immediate benefits for the organization as a whole.
So here are just six benefits from using Process Mapping in your business today:
Instant, End-to-End Visibility of your Processes
In most businesses today, so much is going on to produce even seemingly simple results, that it’s sometimes difficult to tell at a simple glance where one functional area starts to get involved and another one starts to contribute to a process. But with a process map, it’s instantaneous, and you can see where the handoffs and decision points are immediately, making it easy to study the variables individually and see what excess resources are used at any one time.
Show Activity Owners
One of the most elusive parts of complex processes these days is determining who owns what particular activity. Just because it happens under the umbrella of a functional area doesn’t necessarily identify the actual initiator of an activity, and with process mapping, this becomes easily visible and you can easily plan activities to improve, as needed.
Identify and Plan for Risk
Just how individual activities can be analyzed with proper process mapping, you can also look ahead and see when resources become the most constrained. Bottlenecks that have been slowing down operations and preventing smooth workflows can be identified, isolated if necessary, and improved on. This shows that process mapping is not only a great tool for process improvement, but also for risk management.
Allow Proper Process Analysis
As mentioned above, process mapping gives you a great general glance at your operations as a whole, but you can take the same principle and scale it down per functional area to analyze individual processes. It’s by getting down in the weeds that you can really improve things but it would be much more difficult to analyze exactly where to concentrate your efforts on without process mapping.
Report and Document Changes
Properly documenting your process improvement efforts and communicating them to others is made much easier by having everyone be on the same page in terms of the various processes that are being analyzed. By building on the simplicity of a process map, anyone at any level of the organization can know what is being referenced simply with a quick glance at the map and its various swim lanes.
Opportunity to Adopt Continuous Improvement
If you hadn’t noticed by now, the main unifying theme in this article is the concept of improvement. And that’s because many organizations turn to process mapping when trying to fix a situation that is less than perfect. But process mapping shouldn’t only be used as a last resort to improve a situation, rather, it can be a preventive and proactive tool with which to embark on the journey of continuous improvement. By putting it to use from time to time, even when nothing seems out of the ordinary, you can guarantee incremental enhancements to your processes, thus consistently transforming your organization into the best version of itself over time.
In these days of hyper-competition and extreme connectivity, getting a slight edge over your competition and repeating the activities that gave you that edge, can mean the difference between being the leader in your industry, or falling behind. Process Mapping is one of those simple tools that is truly inclusive in that everyone within your organization can leverage its powers. At Valens Project Consulting, we help you make the most of this and other tools to set you on the path of continuous improvement, so reach out for a free consultation, and see how your operations will improve almost from day one!
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