14 Benefits of Process Mapping
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Many businesses aim to optimize their work processes by maximizing value and minimizing waste. Process mapping can be an efficient way to record, share and improve your business procedures. Understanding how process mapping can help your organization might help you decide if it's the right organizational tool for you. In this article, we explain what process mapping is and share 14 process mapping benefits.
What is process mapping?
Process mapping is the practice of creating a diagram outline all of the steps, resources and outcomes involved in a work process. These maps are an organizational tool to clearly define the order of actions required to reach the intended result. You can create a process map by hand or digitally using process mapping software, and you can choose to make your map as detailed as you'd like. Some maps are simplistic, containing only the most fundamental information, while others might include details like ingredients, suppliers and task owners.
Types of project maps include:
Input-Process-Output (IPO) Model: Maps that divide a process into three stages denoting the planning, execution and result
Fishbone diagrams: Maps that feature each major component of the project and help predict expected challenges
Activity process maps: Maps that designate which actions in a process add value
Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer (SIPOC) maps: Maps that outline how each party interacts with other parties using a chart
Swimlane maps: Maps that clearly separate each person or group's responsibilities
What are the benefits of process mapping?
Here are some of the benefits of process mapping:
1. Helps standardize work processes
Process mapping enables you to clearly document your ideal work process. Because you might work collaboratively with a team to develop these maps, they're often comprehensive documents that account for many perspectives. You can use process mapping to record the current expectations and update the maps as processes change. Creating this centralized resource can help you align teams and establish consistent processes for frequent business activities.
2. Ensures compliance
Process maps can serve as compliance tools. If you work in an industry that's subject to complex regulations, process mapping can be an efficient way to communicate proper procedure. These documents can also serve as evidence of compliance if you face an audit. You might also create process maps for risk management and quality control processes, enabling you to quickly check work for compliance.
3. Identify improvement opportunities
If you're committed to continuous improvement, which is the ongoing optimization of work processes, process mapping can be an essential tool. Managers, engineers and supervisors can review these documents to identify areas that could be more profitable or efficient. Process mapping might prompt you to evaluate how valuable each step is and what products result from individual actions. You might identify opportunities to reduce waste and increase production. When you improve a process, revising your maps can help you communicate these changes to your teams.
4. Facilitates knowledge transfer
Process mapping enables team members to document their work processes, which can be greatly valuable when employees assume responsibility for a new task someone else previously handled. This practice may be particularly vital to small teams in which individuals manage many tasks and departments independently. A clear process map promotes transparency, enables teammates to support each others' work in periods of absence and acts as a training document when employees leave the company.
5. Promotes cross-functionality
These maps show employees how their work reaches other teams and the customer. To develop a cross-functional team, it can be essential that employees understand how departments work together to reach a goal. Process maps highlight which teams collaborate on assets, which teams deliver products to one another and how each team contributes to the eventual outcome.
6. Adds clarity
Process mapping can offer your team an added resource that defines important details. For example, most process mapping software programs include a feature that lists owners of each step. For example, if a graphic designer creates images for a landing page based on copy from writers, they might reference the process map to determine which writer is responsible for the tagline. This can aid in communication and streamline collaboration.
7. Promotes autonomy
When employees have access to clear information, they might be able to locate answers themselves and make informed decisions independently instead of consulting with a manager. You can include links to resources like videos, instructions and policies in your process map to empower team members to make autonomy decisions. This might promote development, encourage decision-making skills and save managers time.
8. Offers transparency to customers
If you feel it would benefit your client relationship, you could choose to make your process maps available to clients. This might help clients understand how you build the products they purchase, and if it's appropriate, you could incorporate their feedback to adjust your processes. Inviting the client to work with you when process mapping might build trust between you and help you customize your work to fit their needs.
9. Support problem-solving
When you face unexpected challenges, process mapping might help reveal solutions. For example, if your quality assurance team frequently finds product defects, you could refer the process map to understand where these errors occur and who can prevent them. Some people respond well to visual tools, so the visual nature of these maps might also help your teams brainstorm inventive solutions.
10. Aid in process development
If you're pursuing a new goal, process mapping can help you develop a plan that works for your team. You can use existing process maps as a useful reference, identifying with steps are most valuable and necessary. For example, if you work for a restaurant and you're creating a new seasonal menu, you might map the process to decide best practices for selecting dishes, testing recipes, marketing new options and launching the menu. You might use a process map from your restaurant's opening as a template, focusing on steps that add the most value.
11. Saves time
Process mapping might make your project planning phase more efficient. By using process mapping software, you can create these documents quickly and easily. They can be a valuable resource, helping project managers design projects effectively and empowering your teams to start taking action sooner.
12. Defines boundaries
When your work includes involved sequences and task hand-offs, it might be beneficial to clearly denote when phases begin and end. This can help you allocate your resources, set deadlines and clarify expectations among teams, managers and clients. For example, a creative team might use process mapping to indicate how much time they spend on brainstorming before deciding on a concept and moving into the design phase. Executives or clients can reference the process map to track progress and confirm when they might see a product like a brain guide or a rendering.
13. Clarifies expected outcomes
In most business processes, it's crucial that all relevant parties have aligned expectations for the final product. A process map clearly defines the objective. Clients, executives and key stakeholders might offer input about the outcome they want, and including specific information about the final product on the process map can ensure that everyone is moving towards an established goal.
14. Assists in measuring results
When you finish a project, you can use the process map to determine how well you followed your plan. You might notice times when you could have organized resources better or assigned tasks more effectively. If you consider important factors like cost and time when process mapping, the differences between your process map and your actual actions can help you identify areas to improve the next time you repeat the process or perform a similar task.
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