On any journey to process improvement, the first step is understanding your process or processes. In this blog, we will take a deep dive into process mapping and the primary steps to help you get the most out of your process mapping exercise.
What is Process Mapping?
Gartner defines a process map as: “a tool that clarifies a set of tasks that must be repeated periodically. … The map clearly describes when each task is performed, who is responsible, if any conditions should be met and what happens next.”
From a value perspective, process mapping enables increased operational effectiveness and efficiency by helping organizations capture and understand the flow of key activities within teams, functional areas and across the whole business.
Process mapping is typically one of the first in a set of activities that lead to improvements in areas such as time waste, errors, and compliance. Activities, including process analysis, modeling and simulation all follow the initial discovery and understanding of processes – these latter activities are covered in other blogs and parts of our website.
Let’s get into the basic steps of process mapping.
What are the Five Major Steps of Process Mapping?
1. Context Setting
State the driver(s) for your exercise e.g., what is the opportunity to improve or problem to solve? Also state the area of focus: is it a single process, set of processes, business area or function?
2. Set Your Goals
Define the target outcome you want to achieve as a result of this exercise e.g., do you want to understand the process flows, activities and issues, improve efficiency, identify decision points, etc.? Try to tie these goals to business outcomes or strategic goals within the company.
3. Identify Sources of Process Knowledge
Outline the sources of the process knowledge. Where is the knowledge stored e.g., in team member’s heads, process documentation, basic flowcharts or systems? What percentage is in team member’s heads? How many versions of the process are documented? How do you know which one is the correct version? Who is involved in the processes? By thinking through these types of questions, you can build in the right level of effort into your overall plan.
4. Identify the Current State Process
Start gathering and mapping the process using one or more of the following:
- Self-serve forms that ask users, team leads and administrators pertinent questions about the process activities, user roles and positive and negative experiences.
- Interviews to capture quantitative and qualitative details about the processes. Interviews are especially useful where there is either very limited documented knowledge about the process, processes are complex and/or follow multiple paths that need to be explored.
- Observation to capture the very real and actual process mapping steps, process flows and actions taken by users.
- Workshops to gather the collective understanding of the process events and activities. Although group interactions can lead to the loudest or most senior voice being heard over others, sharing alongside colleagues can be a great way to jog memories and use the collective views of the group to create a more detailed and accurate view of the process.
- Process mining to generate an accurate and unbiased view of the process from system log files that include data stamps and all variations of a process.
Initial activities can be supplemented with follow-ups to fill any gaps. For example, process mining will give a great system view that may need to be complemented with face-to-face interviews to capture some of the why and details of activities that are not recorded in the system log files.
Alternatively, using forms may provide a base of information that can be explored in more detail via face-to-face (or Zoom) interviews.
With data captured, this should be checked and calibrated for accuracy and themes. For example, through aggregating data sets you may identify primary and secondary flows or anomalies that reside with specific individuals or teams.
5. Create the Master Process Map
Once you have an accurate view of the process, create a master process map that includes the overall workflow, events and activities. This can then either become the baseline that everyone follows or the baseline for follow-up process analysis, business process modeling, and improvement activities.
With the process map complete, our clients use the output as the standard definition of the way to work and refine over time. Some of our clients use this work as a baseline to kick-off more directed process improvement or transformation journeys.
Why is Process Mapping Important?
Businesses today must focus on achieving regulatory and operational obligations. These can include proving that your internal and customer-facing processes are compliant with the regulations such as CRR, CRD, MFID and EMIR.
This ensures that the right processes are in place to help:
- Mitigate undue risk and harm to customers, partners and the organization
- Deliver great experiences that eliminate the frustrations typically associated with financial management
- Ensure consistent and efficient use of people, process and asset resources from the front to the back office
As many of these requirements are driven by processes, it’s an imperative that you have sight of and a clear understanding of all processes – not least because they:
- Provide visibility of how the business is operating, and
- Provide evidence of the practices that are being followed
Types of Business Process Maps
If we look at Financial Services specifically, there are multiple customer-facing and back-office processes that must be carefully designed around regulatory requirements and the organizations unique customer experiences.
These types of processes include:
Plus, we cannot forget about all the other operational functions such as HR, IT, legal, procurement and finance.
When mapping processes in financial organizations, things to also think about include:
- Understand the relevant internal policies and external regulations
- Understanding the level of complexity and how this plays out within single and across connected processes
- Mapping your processes before looking at technology solutions to optimize them
Improve Process Mapping Today
BusinessOptix has a library of blogs and materials on process management. Read our other blogs for more insights or find out about our process management platform.