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Back to the Basics: Process Mapping

Process mapping is a concept that has been been around for a long time now, helping businesses across industries keep inefficiencies at bay. It’s a simple concept, but a powerful business tool; it visually describes the flow of work in an office for easy understanding and compliance.

In order to create a process that works efficiently, you have to get back to the basics and start planning from scratch. Let’s walk through the basics of process mapping and how you can map yours out efficiently and effectively:

Goals of Process Mapping

Having a complete layout of each aspect of your business operations gives you a detailed understanding of objectives and expectations at every step through project completion. When you’re actively working with a process map as your guide, it is easier to identify bottlenecks and pinpoint areas that may need more attention. This gives you the ability to spearhead problems and adapt quickly to any hindrances. Process mapping also gives employees a comprehensive idea of what is expected of them, and how they should deliver their work to the next person in the workflow.

Creating The Process Map

Initially mapping out your process forces you to hold a magnifying glass up to your organization and pick apart the way it operates. Process mapping regularly leads a company to ask questions like, “How do we really accomplish this?” and “Is this really the best way it should be done?” For example, think about how many touches go into a sales proposal. It likely starts with building a pitch deck, then crafting multiple revisions of proposals and pricing quotes, and finally collaborating with prospects to finalize contract terms and collect signatures from all necessary parties. It’s important to have the right people in the room when you are process mapping to avoid making incorrect assumptions, and to push beyond the surface to uncover efficiencies.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. List out the main steps. Gather team members together for an open discussion of project development and its flow through the workplace. As previously stated, this team should consist of all members who are a part of and have different roles in the process. Having team members talk the process out from start to finish sheds light on any disconnections among the team regarding how tasks are completed. Take note of each step as you discuss.
  2. Get lost in the details. Once you’ve laid out the main processes, break these ideas down into more elaborate steps. This provides the utmost clarity for showing detailed connections and the proper sequence of events. If possible, try to also provide expectations for time limits at each stage so all team members are clear on how fast this process should pass through the workflow. It’s also crucial for there to be understanding and clarity across disciplines so that all team members understand exactly what—and how long—each step takes.
  3. Create your workflow. Once you’ve written out all the information, use document automation for an effortless workflow design. The map design is almost as important as the information for easy understanding.

3 Ways to Avoid Over-Mapping:

A huge pitfall you’ll want to avoid while crafting your process map is overmapping. Here’s how to avoid it:

  1. Don’t sacrifice clear instruction. You want to make it detailed for understanding, but don’t make it overly complicated.
  2. Don’t expect perfection. It’s important, to be honest and critical. You want to mirror your current situation, with slight improvements – not create an idyllic vision. This doesn’t mean “accept inefficiency,” but instead means, “allow the space for improvement.” If you immediately change how everything works, your employees may burn out and produce work that is below standard.
  3. Create room for sustainable improvement. During the initial meeting talk about points for change. During this conference, you should be open to the idea that your current process isn’t the best method—but that’s completely fine. Your process map is not written in stone, and so it should always be open to reworking.

Making a process map allows you to dig deep into team processes, strategically inspecting your company’s methods and how they affect project operations. Whether this is your company’s first process map or you’re making alterations to an older version, use it to the best of its ability to lay a foundation of increased efficiency and inspired productivity.