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Businesses consist of much more than their organisational chart, technical infrastructure, and digital footprint. At their core, businesses are made up of processes: systems and tasks that propel them forward quarter after quarter and year after year. Delivering quality products or services requires companies to operate efficiently using effective business processes. They also need to continually improve these systems to lower operational costs, provide better customer propositions, and improve their bottom line.

Hence, the need for business process mapping to document processes and improve performance. Effective process maps give a detailed visual overview from input to output. To take the next step in optimisation, consider leveraging Business Process Automation solutions. Furthermore, Cloud Transformation services are essential for the successful implementation of these automated processes. 

This article looks at how to do business process mapping to ensure organisational efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, and increase return on investment.

What is Business Process Mapping?

Business process mapping involves visually displaying the steps within a business process to show how it occurs from start to finish. The mapping provides a concise picture of all the steps needed by a product, service, or other processes from the beginning to the end. It also shows the sequence of steps that take place.

Process mapping usually uses flow charts to show the sequence of the steps. These charts may move from top down or from left to right. They use well-established symbols to depict key process pieces like the start, input, stop, and data.

These depictions ensure everyone in the company understands how the process flows from start to finish. They also help stakeholders like regulators understand the organisation's business processes. Therefore, business process mapping tools support compliance.

Process mapping and modelling are part of workflow management. However, modelling provides a more detailed process representation and incorporates additional organisational data.

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Why does your business need process mapping?

Process mapping allows companies to solidify their ideas and streamline processes through visual representations to communicate the steps needed to execute. It also helps stakeholders gain insight into how a business process works and whether or not it does its job successfully. After mapping out a process, it's easier to spot where issues can occur, where there is waste (including time and effort), and where changes can improve the entire process.

Below are some reasons why businesses should implement process mapping toward efficient operations:

• Identify inefficiencies: It helps identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, problems, and gaps in the process flow.

• Increase comprehension: Helps everybody involved to understand the business process.

• Simplify ideas: It breaks down complex and lengthy business ideas into smaller steps and shows how the entire process flows.

• Plan for contingencies: It allows businesses to plan for contingencies, provide problem-solving guidance, and ensure continuous process improvement.

• Delegate responsibilities: Process mapping identifies and coordinates responsibilities shared between individuals, stakeholders, and entities.

• Faster decision-making: Better communication and alignment enables faster decision-making.

• Increased performance: A well-designed process mapping improves employee performance and leads to job satisfaction.

• Easy communication: It simplifies communication in the business through a simple and user-friendly visual format.

How process mapping influences budgets

All business projects and processes come with hard costs associated with how you perform the work. These may include anything from labour costs and shipping costs to printing. Additionally, other soft costs incurred include time spent performing tasks, re-entering data for completed work, or evaluating data and making decisions.

Apart from these two costs, all business projects have opportunity costs, such as the inability to make real-time decisions during any part of the process.

Hence, the need for business process mapping tools and the right digital environment to streamline work and simplify processes. It saves businesses money by reducing inefficiencies and waste, leading to cost savings. Waste can include overproduction, over-processing, transportation, inventory, value addition, defects, and poor decision-making processes.

For example, let's say the cost of a particular business process costs $6,000 AUD and occurs 100 times annually, costing $600,000 AUD. Now imagine a process map that presents an alternative approach costing $72,000 AUD upfront. However, it removes $3,000 AUD from the process during each iteration. Therefore, the new $72,000 AUD investment saves $300,000 AUD annually – representing a 4× ROI.

How to build your first process map

Creating a business process map is simple, and you can do it on paper or use workflow management software and templates. The following steps explain the process of creating a process map from scratch.

1. Identify the business process to map

Start by determining the process you want to map out. Do you have enough information about the entire process? Does it need any improvements before you map it out? Sometimes it's a new process you want to explain to your team, or it could be a complex process that you wish to simplify step-by-step. Start by identifying what you want to do and name it before continuing.

2. List the activities involved

Next, document the tasks needed to complete the process, and include who is responsible for each. Then, collaborate with stakeholders or colleagues who are part of the process to make an accurate account of every step required and fill in the details. Additionally, ensure you establish where the business process starts and ends to know which tasks to include to get the desired result.

After completing the list of activities, arrange them in their proper sequence to represent the process from start to finish. Check for gaps and fill them at this stage before continuing.

Image of Building Process map in Digital Transformation

3. Draw a flowchart

Select the correct process mapping format before drawing out the entire process and representing the steps with process mapping symbols. You can use up to 30 conventional symbols available to represent the different process elements.

4. Finalise and share the process

After drawing out the process map, review it with your colleagues and stakeholders to ensure everyone understands it. Check for mistakes, missing steps, ambiguities, and redundancies.

5. Analyse the map and improve

After establishing the process map, it becomes a tool you can use to discover how to improve the process it maps. Get feedback from your team and other stakeholders to help identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies. Also, determine if some steps are unnecessary and which tasks are inefficient. Finally, always analyse and examine the process map to find areas of improvement.

Why work with a Business Process Automation consultant

If you’ve never implemented business process mapping into your organisation, you may find it difficult and overwhelming to keep track of all of the moving parts and make a determination of whether or not you’re actually helping your business in the long run.

Common challenges of Process Mapping include:

1. Poor process scoping

It's easy for practitioners to dive into workflow details and process mapping without understanding the overall business context.

Business processes are organised in a series of events, tasks, and decisions from the start to the end. Often, problems identified in a process are caused by different issues, so it's critical to map multiple processes together within the system to see the bigger picture across the entire value stream.

2. Lack of analysis

Mapping business processes requires the analysis of every task before creating a visual diagram to help review and analyse the entire process. Proper business process analysis helps implement much-needed changes to reduce operations costs and improve customer value.

3. Complexities

Process maps containing excessive details become too complicated to understand and use, forcing leadership to prioritise improvement actions. Adopting the correct process of identifying and including information helps make the process easy and organised.

4. Poor maintenance

One common mistake is letting process maps grow outdated and stale without making constant changes and improvements.

If you’ve experienced any of these challenges in the past are planning on streamlining your business, your best course of action is to consult with IT Consulting Services experts who have experience implementing these types of strategies in live business environments.

Organisations must continually look to improve their existing processes, or else lose their competitive edge in the marketplace. Canon Business Services ANZ has helped businesses of all different sizes in many different industries plan their digital transformation, stay compliant, and implement Business Process Automation to their workflows. We are a trusted consultant with a wealth of experience helping companies to change and implement their business process mapping. Contact us today to learn more.

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