5 Reasons Your Process Mapping Sucks

Mike Girdler

If your process mapping sucks, it’s time to change it There’s no denying that a commitment to continually improving business processes is critical to long …

If your process mapping sucks, it’s time to change it

project management tipsThere’s no denying that a commitment to continually improving business processes is critical to long term business growth and success, and effective process mapping plays a key role in delivering on that commitment. If you’re not getting all that you want from your process mapping efforts, consider these reasons why it might suck.

1. Your map is too high level

Perhaps, in an effort to save time, those involved in process mapping capture 10 or 12 high level steps of a process. What’s wrong with a map being too high level? Everything. It does not reflect all of the steps in the actual process. It doesn’t properly account for task and wait times. It fails to take into consideration decisions and decision makers. It doesn’t allow for waste identification and removal, and overlooks areas for increased value for the customer. One of the keys to successful process mapping is to take the time and capture all of the steps in the process, not just the high level.

2. Failing to include process owners in the process mapping

How can a process be mapped if the people who use the process are not involved in mapping it? Without the contribution of process users, the map delivers an unrealistic reflection of the process. It’s the equivalent of taking an SOP and saying that this is the way things are done. It’s just not the case. Theory and practice can differ greatly. Without the actual process owners and those who follow the process involved in the mapping, you are simply creating fiction.

3. No current state map

Moving directly to the creation of a new future state and bypassing a current state sounds like a good strategy, right? Wrong. Bypassing the current state is a critical mistake in developing, or improving, processes. Your current state map provides a clear picture of the current problems, waste, and inefficiencies. If you can’t understand a current process and how it works, how can you expect to improve on it. Without leveraging the power of the current state you may well just be developing a new inefficient process that will be as valueless as the existing one. It is the starting place for you to begin developing a new and improved process.

4. No project plan for the new process

So, you’ve mapped the current state, and as a team, developed a great, new and improved process – well done. You’re finished right? No. Actually here is where some real heavy lifting occurs. During the new process development, new technologies, removal of wastes, new ways of communicating and responsibilities may have been incorporated into the design. However, these changes to the process and the implementation of the new process don’t just happen, it’s critical that you develop a new process project plan to capture all of the tasks, responsibilities, and due dates. Without a comprehensive plan, all you have is a pretty new process map on the wall.

5. No executive support

Business process improvements are not easy. They require time, effort, and commitment. For the process improvements to be successful, the number one key is executive support for the process improvement project. Executive personnel must understand the benefits to the organization of the improvements, its priority, and act as a champion for the process improvement. With the competition for resources within an organization, it’s very easy for a process improvement project to get put on the back burner, or not implemented correctly. With executive support pushing the agenda, you’re sure to sidestep failure and see the new process implemented successfully.

Process mapping plays a huge role in business continuous improvement efforts. Make sure that your map captures the process steps, you include the right people, you map the current state, develop a plan, and have solid executive support and your efforts will be successful.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when process mapping? Thanks for reading don’t forget to share/tweet/like our blog just underneath this paragraph. And don’t forget, we’re always here to help with your business efficiency needs.

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Michael Girdler is a vice-president, CornerStone Dynamics Inc. His blogs focus on all things project management. Throughout Mike's career, he has invested deeply into projects involving sales, marketing, training and development, continuing education, and communications environments.

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