Business Process Re-engineering' is a term that is often used, but a technique that is often under used by businesses. One of the key steps to undertaking this work, in a controlled manner, is to map out the processes of your business. This can take days to perform, which can put a lot of people off. It can also be done in minutes and how to do this quickly but effectively is the focus of this article.

When process mapping is done properly you can see how to improve how your business works. This often leads to opportunities to save money, improve customer service levels and make your working day a little easier. Process mapping can be a fast way to generate improvement ideas for your business.

One of the common misconceptions about process mapping is that you need to get down to the nitty-gritty in order to get results. Going down to this level can take a lot of time of effort and this is, understandably, why a lot of people are put off. However, you can gain a lot of information from just mapping the very top level of your business. Drawing out a simple flowchart, moving from one department to another department, can often be enough to generate a significant change to how your business performs. As long as you clearly choose the process you want to review then you can map out the steps quickly. After you have an initial map you can overlay it with your issues, concerns, gripes and ideas. In the space of a few minutes you have provided the substance for an effective improvement plan.

There are many types of mapping that you can use, and I suggest that you have a look into what methods are available. My recommendation however is that you keep it simple if you are new to doing this. It can be tempting to refine and revise the method you use, but a lot of the benefit comes from simply taking a time out from your business to look at how it is working. If you can get a few other people (from different areas of your business) to take part then it can be a really productive exercise.

Recommended actions:

  • Choose a process to map
  • Draw a flow chart for the top level of the process
  • List your issues and concerns
  • Pay particular attention to the 'handovers' in the process
  • Determine the necessary actions to take
  • Prioritise the actions and form your plan
  • Take action!

So, process mapping doesn't have to be a long process. If you do have some tricky areas then you can always drill down into the detail at a later point. If you consider your brand whilst you map your processes then you can quickly spot exactly how you need to change how your business performs. By doing this you will have both your compass and your map at your disposal. Using these two tools together then allows you to create your 'future state', your ideal process that you can then work toward realising.

Article by Giles Johnston of Smartspeed Consulting Ltd.

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