In my adventures with clients, I typically come around to the same conclusion. We need to process map your business. Why?
People Learn to Fix Things, Together – If people on your team have different understandings of how things get done, it leads to inefficient execution and dropped balls. Those lead to higher costs, customer and employee dissatisfaction, and lost revenue opportunities. When you interview a variety of people across the company, they usually come up with a eureka or two. “You know what, if we did it Mary’s way instead, we could probably shave a few hours off the process.” I am rarely the one who comes up with the insight. It’s people across the company who, by sharing their perspectives through a new lens, create new avenues. This is liberating and inspiring and opens up new communication channels that makes collaborative problem solving core to the culture.
New People Can Become Productive Quickly – When you onboard new people and give them their company swag, you’re of course not done; not even close. You have to train them. The best way to train them is to walk them through or allow them to follow along on the various departmental works of the business. To provide a guide to the business you should also hand them a detailed process map. It will provide them with comfort, leap past the basics, and get them engrained into the culture and vocabulary of the company. They will also understand who does what, including themselves, making the environment easier to navigate. They likely have something to contribute to it as well.
It Highlights Process and Technology Issues – “That’s the way we have always done it,” can’t hide when you conduct process mapping. The inefficiencies stick out and the disparate methods pop. It enables you to see where quality suffers, time gets lost, and where you can plug in automation or new processes, saving you tons of time and headaches. This is the primary reason people engage in process mapping, but it’s only one of the benefits.
Your Business Value Increases – Some day you may want to take on investors, or you may be lucky enough to have suitors bidding to buy your business. One of the challenges investors and suitors identify is key man issues. Is your business really a fine tuned machine, or does it depend on the knowledge of a select few? If the latter, your business will become less attractive, and in their eyes more risky to take on. When you hand these folks a well-documented business process, they take you seriously, because they see that you are running a scalable and sustainable business. There are also potential tax benefits if you can demonstrate that your business is not made up of individual knowledge experts.
You Can Measure and Optimize Your Business - Once you’ve process mapped your business, it becomes a whole lot easier to identify what you should be measuring. Metrics can be very difficult to identify when you’re looking at the business as a whole. Process mapping breaks your business down into key parts, and from there it is much easier to define metrics you can use to optimize your work. Then you can return to the surface and the KPIs will present themselves, as they are simply a function of the underlying metrics.