5 tips to get the most out of business process mapping

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Business process mappingEvery organization has processes designed to provide a framework for accomplishing tasks, achieving business objectives and serving customers. It’s basically an outline of the steps it takes to do something.

Most business leaders would admit these processes are frequently not optimized or have become outdated. Are your processes clearly defined? Do you know where to find information on them? Do you and your business colleagues know how to follow them or even update them across the business?

A process is only as good as a business user’s ability to understand it. If it’s difficult to understand and hard to use, it just won’t work the way it was intended. Most ineffective processes normally have a few things in common: they’re not documented well, they’re difficult to understand, they’re inconsistent and sometimes just altogether incorrect.

Process mapping is an exercise that all organizations should master and regularly evaluate. It entails discovering and documenting processes with the goal of improving front- and back-office business processes to deliver better service to customers while continuing to increase the efficiency of operations. Before jumping into the process mapping deep end without a flotation device, here are five tips to consider whether you’re just beginning to map processes within your organization or trying to build on what others have done before you.

1. Use the right tool for the job.

Some organizations try to use drawing tools for process modeling because they think of modeling as just a drawing exercise. They are often surprised when they see how different a dedicated process modeling environment is from a drawing tool.

With a dedicated process modeling tool, teams of business analysts and subject matter experts can work together in an intuitive environment to capture “real-world” workflows, including exception paths, document a wide variety of process details, collaborate on process improvements, view changes in real time and find the current, up-to-date version of any process in a centralized process repository.

2. Get businesspeople involved.

The only way process modeling can truly be scalable and effective is if the business people who have deep knowledge of each process are directly involved in the development of process documentation. This will ensure that each process is as complete and accurate as possible. IT departments typically aren’t sufficiently immersed in the day-to-day running of the business to understand processes in the same in-depth way as people within the business unit performing the tasks.

3. Collaborate.

It’s important for business users to buy in and be active, hands-on participants in process modeling. Business users won’t get excited about process improvement unless they can easily collaborate with their co-workers to document and improve how their business operates day to day.

A dedicated process mapping tool can provide collaboration capabilities that help users

  • see all changes made to process models in real-time
  • “follow” processes they’re interested in (just like on a social media site) and be notified when any changes are made
  • post questions or share ideas, then easily follow the ensuing conversation
  • engage with colleagues using the built-in chat feature

4. Have all your processes in one place and up to date.

Some process modeling solutions only save models as point-in-time files rather than storing them in a central repository. Storing process models as files almost always results in version control and consistency issues.

It helps to have a central repository for your process models, so people can put all their processes, including their desktop procedures, in one place. This ensures everyone is working from the same version.

5. Offer training and mentoring.

It’s a good idea to have a leader within the organization champion process mapping and act as a change agent to help drive success. This can be accomplished through periodic training sessions and workshops to keep process modeling top of mind within the business unit and share key lessons from the development and successful execution of workflow creation.

Getting the benefits

While organizational change and process optimization take time, they’re certainly worth the investment. Check out the “10 signs you need a better process modeling solution” infographic, which takes a light-hearted approach to show ways you could improve your process modeling. Sign eight is my favorite. If you relate to any of these, it’s time to join the revolution.

If you’re ready to dig a little deeper, visit the Blueworks Live webpage to learn how it differentiates itself from a simple process diagramming tool. You are also invited to register for the 5 September webinar for more on how Blueworks Live can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of processes.

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