Process Mapping: What It Is and Why Use It?
Imagine trying to find your way while hiking unfamiliar terrain without first checking your GPS or a map. While the truly adventurous might think the unknown is exhilarating, you’re not in the business of taking unnecessary risks. Most of us would like to know whether there’s a dangerous cliff or a body of water nearby before we accidentally stumble upon it with potentially dire consequences.
Running a business without a map to guide you and your team is not only more difficult, but it’s also less efficient and can lead to falling off a professional cliff. Process mapping helps keep employees on the right trail, with confidence, unpacking the knowledge they need to successfully navigate their job while avoiding hazards that slow them down.
What is process mapping?
Process mapping is a series of visual diagrams that represent a company’s workflows. A business Knowledge Management (KM) system is heavily dependent on process mapping. It uncomplicates the steps to perform a task, translating them to a straightforward workflow diagram. Using a collection of simple shapes and colors, a process map is an easy-to-follow chart that takes you through the actions necessary to accomplish a task. It includes common variables and how to deal with them.
What are the benefits of process mapping?
The benefits are innumerable and, if you choose, they can reach every segment of your organization. Process mapping can apply to everything from inbound customer queries to marketing strategies, from finance to onboarding new employees.
Process mapping shows where you are now and takes you where you want to go. It helps provide continuity and structure that keeps employees focused on what’s most important; being efficient, giving customers a consistently great service, and improving the bottom line.
If you’ve identified a goal of improving your customer’s experience, creating process maps will expose gaps and weaknesses in your operations that you can fill and fix. Not only will that inspire immediate upgrades, but it will also fuel consistent progress as these maps get updated, as needed, with new and improved information.
Process mapping makes it easier to share knowledge across the organization because you must identify those best courses of action as you go. It shows everyone the big picture, and where they fit into the grand scheme of things. It also brings all team members up to a trackable standard and ensures compliance.
Process maps enable knowledge transfer with minimum disruption to everyone’s workflow. This is especially beneficial when onboarding employees. They also clarify accountability for ensuring processes are properly executed by team members. And they simplify planning and decision-making.
Onboarding new recruits becomes simpler, less time-consuming, and more consistent with process mapping.
Also, process mapping can be utilized as a marketing device to prove to investors and prospective clients that you are operating a dependable company.
What are the steps of process mapping?
You may be asking yourself How do I create a process map? You’ve come to the right place. Following these five steps will logically lead you through the development of your organization’s process maps.
Involving the wide-ranging experience of ProcedureFlow to guide you at any of these five action steps will benefit your organization as it launches its process mapping strategy. ProcedureFlow is a cloud-based knowledge management solution that converts organizations’ processes and information into an accessible easy-to-use management tool to be used by employees.
The five steps begin with the big picture and work their way toward the small, crucial details that will form the basis of your process maps.
- Create a high-level map of your organization, working from the top down. This clearly shows how the company is organized and how departments interact and connect with each other.
- List and prioritize the processes based on the needs of the business. Identify a process that’s causing the company pain, such as customer or employee frustration, errors, etc. Also, identify the processes with the highest volume of usage. An 80/20 rule applies: 20% of processes are usually responsible for 80% of pain or usage volume.
- Gather documents, forms, and other job aids that employees need to successfully execute the detailed work instructions and transfer them into a flowchart. This is where you translate wordy text documents into simple-to-follow visual steps. Keep the new employee in mind. ProcedureFlow helps you to give the reader a high-level overview of the process with hyperlinks to get the details they need when they need them.
- Test and obtain feedback. Refinement is best done here before the process mapping goes live. Conduct test runs with employees who are unfamiliar with the process and ensure they have enough information to follow the flow correctly.
- Implement and track. With ProcedureFlow, teams are empowered and energized by being engaged and involved. Team members can suggest changes to make flows clearer or fix errors. It’s easy to make updates.
What is the best software for process mapping?
From telecommunications to health care, contact call centers to hotel chains, ProcedureFlow helps companies of all sizes with process mapping specifically, and knowledge management.
ProcedureFlow uses small, hyperlinked flowcharts to represent complex expert knowledge, with seven simple shapes, easily identifiable colors, and descriptions. Working through your processes in a visual and logical way will help you spot waste and make improvements right out of the gate. As your whole team starts to engage in the process, watch consistency and customer experience soar. Change notifications are designed to help keep everyone up to date with all the latest process changes.
Business process mapping is an essential tool that facilitates knowledge transfer easily, by visually describing the flow of work. Humans are visual creatures, and the consistency of the colors and shapes used by ProcedureFlow help make content absorption quick and easy. There’s no searching, no lag time, and no confusion when you’ve collaborated with ProcedureFlow to serve your process mapping needs.
Request a demo and see how you can get started with process mapping.
Written by Lisa Brandt