The Importance of Process Mapping for Business Operations

The Importance of Process Mapping for Business Operations, roy barker


Why is Process Mapping Important ?

There are a number of reasons why process mapping is vital to the success of your business. Running a senior living facility, for example, requires the flow and tracking of a lot of moving pieces of information, and people! Having processes outlined and in writing keeps everyone on the same page, answers questions that may arise and ensures a consistent operation. Process mapping also means that anyone, at any time, can come in and take over the operation and make those pieces move just as smoothly as if you were there running it yourself. This is an important aspect of job descriptions as well. Since you have a number of different staff positions in your senior living operation, it is important to know not only what each person is responsible for, but how they do it. You can ask each member of your team to map out their job duties and provide steps or explanations on how the work is actually completed. Many larger corporations will hire a consultant to provide this mapping of processes, but business owners can do it themselves, with the help of their teams.

How to Assess Your Current Operation

The need for process mapping usually comes about because of some unforeseen incident. For example, a new business might be chugging along fine until one employee announces they need to go off on disability leave, or extended sick leave. As the business owner, you might not have any clue how to facilitate that request. You know they are entitled to the leave — or are they? — but you don’t know how to see that through so the employee gets what they need. In addition, you now need to replace this employee for the extent of the leave. What this person does and how they do it is a huge factor in the hiring process whether permanent or temporary. This can trigger an alarm in your business that you need to start putting processes in place.

Start by sitting down and making a list of all the things your business does on a regular basis, and include the one-offs, those things that may happen only once, as well, because they tend to provide valuable information about what else you might need to put in place to make your business run more smoothly. After you determine all of the processes that your business engages in, write down who actually does the work. Who writes and submits the reports? Who tracks the information? Who answers your technology questions? Who handles the money? If you are a one-woman or one-man show, you likely do it all, unless you outsource. But if you have any number of employees, this is a good way to determine roles and responsibilities and share the workload amongst the group. What you are bound to find is that most of your processes fall under you or one or two people on your team. You’ll also find that you have a number of processes that no one is responsible for, either because it hasn’t come up yet, or because it keeps getting pushed to the side in favor of more important things.

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Building a Process Mapping System

There is a number of process mapping and management software available on the market today. Many include automation and suggestions for improving your processes. If you are doing this the old-fashioned way — pen and paper — then you’ll want to create a chart that lists all the processes at the top and then draw connections between the processes to find ways to streamline them. For example, if you want to have a process for requesting vacation time, you will write “vacation request” at the top of the chart, and then proceed to write down the steps for requesting vacation. These might include verbally checking with supervisors about requested vacation dates prior to submitting paper or electronic requests. Or the process might involve requesting vacation through email to the Human Resources department and they approve the request and keep track of your remaining vacation time. You can continue to do this charting system for all the processes you have in your organization. Be prepared to identify processes you hadn’t thought of as more and more information is revealed to you through this exercise.

Looking for Gaps and Flaws

During your process mapping efforts, it will be important to look for opportunities to save time, energy, money, and space. Process mapping allows you to see where you are exerting too much effort, where you aren’t exerting enough effort, where you can remove responsibilities from some employees, and place more responsibilities on other employees. From start to finish, the process mapping experience should provide you with valuable information about your business operation. And if you do it correctly, it should provide you with the comfort of knowing that your business could run itself if it had to. This is important for career succession planning for your employees, as well as your family, should something ever happen to you and your family is left to handle the company.

Be Patient

Conducting a process mapping exercise for your business should not be rushed. It is important that you consider all aspects of your organization and understand how it functions as a complete entity. Whether you run a large multi-unit senior living facility, or you are a solopreneur, understanding how you spend your time and energy, and how your product is rolled out to the world is vital. If you work alone, you will want to map out how you spend your time, what products you intend to deliver on a regular basis, how you will deliver those products, how you interact with clients, how to purchase supplies, track expenses, and more. These are just a few examples of the kinds of things small business owners need to think about and write down how they work. It can take time to see patterns emerging in your work and your habits, so be patient with the process for the maximum amount of impact in the end. Be open to what you find and learn through the process and look for ways to improve upon them at every turn.

Documenting Your Process Mapping Efforts

As you make your way through your process mapping efforts, documenting all you do to keep your business running, decide how you wish to save and access this information. This can be done electronically and saved online for all employees to view, or you can create a physical version and keep it handy for reference in your office or in your workplace. Either way, the process mapping exercise is only valuable if it creates verifiable information for yourself and employees to reference. It keeps people safe, ensures people understand their responsibilities, and provides answers to questions someone might have about a particular process or procedure.

Don’t skimp on the details and put the effort in on the front end, and your business will thank you for years to come. Be sure to update it regularly if processes change or if new people take on new responsibilities so that it is as current as possible. The documentation is the key to the whole effort.