What is the purpose of creating a meal which you can’t eat? Or hanging a picture up to face the wall and not an audience? Nothing I hear you cry! That’s correct. So now let’s ask the same while we are thinking about the purpose of capturing business processes. Many of us would have worked for companies who have captured their processes but no one other than the person who’s job it was to document them all actually knows what they are! What is the purpose in that? If you do not share and educate your fellow colleagues, employees, team members about processes that are important for your business/project/work how will they know what they should be doing?
Documenting processes, and the supporting information that is useful to go with them such as: checklists, standard operating procedures, training guides and videos, provides guidance to others in how to execute actions which will deliver the outputs you need for a project, client or related business function. For example if you were tasked with recruiting a new employee and you didn’t know that there was a template job specification that needed to be completed prior to recruitment activity being able to commence you could work yourself through a whole host of activities before being told you had to do them all again which would have been a complete waste of time and money! If you had a transparent process to follow the key points and essential tasks that were required for the process would have been understood and highlighted to you as you worked through it. But I hear you say, how much is enough when it comes to mapping?
There are a variety of approaches to business mapping which involve varying levels of details. The amount of content in a process is dependent on the audience, as with any documentation you create. By understanding your audience and what they need to gain from the process will provide the structure you need to know what level of instruction you put in it. There are 4 levels of process hierarchy:
- Work Instructions
Processes can be documented in whichever way will add the most value to your work: list, map, video etc. The biggest obstacle comes with the implementation of process. Only when you have successfully shared and trained others in process can you being to gain the value from it.
As business owners, project managers, functional directors, etc. having a better understanding of your processes has many advantages:
- a detailed understanding of what you do – knowing things you could stop doing and have the ability to train people better;
- exploring the ideal of best practices – this can add more value to your work;
- become compliant – embark on the journey of being accredited to a standard which will offer increased opportunity to your business;
- address risk – helps mitigate against weaker areas of your business by learning how to adapt around your risks, that’s much harder to do if you don’t know where they are in the first place.
You may be thinking well where do I start when looking at my processes? There are typically two options to think of here: a process which has a high business value, or a process which is multi-functional and affects multiple parts of a project or organisation.
A process with high business value – start with a process you is important for your business/project. It might be credit control – what steps do you take every week/month to follow up on your unpaid invoices? This is business critical process however it is only applicable to a handful of people in your business/team – and maybe even only one person. It is though essential you perform this activity on a regular basis to protect the revenue and cashflow in your business.
Great to document to gain support or funding for process projects, especially if by capturing the process it highlights ways it can be done more effectively.
A process which is multi-functional – e.g. booking leave. This process is used by all employees within a business even if the business is small and they book leave via email! The steps to ensure leave can be accounted for is an essential task in a business. It can involve many individuals and departments; IT, HR, management.
Capturing this process is an excellent way to increase awareness and educate individuals about the benefits of process – if there’s one way to do things it will be executed with greater consistency.